State lawmakers continue to hear testimony at the budget hearings, which are scheduled throughout this month (NJTV carried the proceedings live today). Assembly majority leader Lou Greenwald (D-6), has presided over more than his fair share of budget hearings. Greenwald told NJ Today Mike Schneider that the hearings serve as a fact-finding mission, and that anyone looking for drama and intrigue will be disappointed.
“You’re trying to find what are the programs that have been working, what aren’t working, how you can revise existing programs and make them better, and really looking at some things that are outdated and need to be eliminated,” Greenwald explained. “It’s very much like putting together a business plan and an annual review for a company that you might run and operate.”
According to Greenwald, the process of coming up with a budget is similar to putting together a business plan or an annual review for a company.
“You get feedback from the public as to proposals that may or may not work or affect their lives and then really try to take those concerns into the hearings with the commissioners, gauge their interest and figure out if they’re hearing the same thing and how you can react,” he explained. “Those hearings are starting to wrap up and it will really start to now talk about the negotiation side as you come out of that fact-finding mission, trying to put together a final product.”
Recently, Greenwald found himself in the middle of an internal party dispute over gun legislation and the absence of magazine capacity in the first package of bills up for a vote. But Greenwald maintained that his position was never intended as an ultimatum.
“If you want to go back to what exactly I had said, I said that the package of bills that the governor proposed and the Senate proposed were good packages. There were some things worthwhile in all of them but they didn’t go far enough without the magazine clip. I think they took that as an ultimatum. That’s not really the case.”
Last week, families of the victims of the Newtown, Conn. massacre went to Trenton to plead for more gun safety. Greenwald described the visit as a remarkable gift for the people of New Jersey.
“They lost their children — 5-, 6-, 7-year-old babies — slaughtered in their school where they’re supposed to be safe and they’re coming to New Jersey to say, ‘learn form us, please don’t let this happen in your state, don’t let this happen to your kids.'”
While he admitted that he was no expert on guns, Greenwald maintained that reducing the magazine capacity needs to be part of any legislation.
“I’m passionate about this and we’re not giving up the fight on this,” he said. “The greatest inconvenience to law abiding citizens is that [at] a shooting range, where these magazine clips are used where no one is firing back at you, that after 10 rounds as opposed to 15, you have to reload. When you talk to the families of Connecticut and you hear a mother talk about how her 6-year-old daughter was hiding in a closet and was shot in the neck and throat, it’s not an inconvenience. That’s an inconvenient truth.”