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Budget Basics: How New Jersey Spends Your Money



Richard F. Keevey | September 13, 2017

A series that details the fundamentals of New Jersey’s budget, as well as its current budget woes

Richard F. Keevey

This is the first in a multipart series outlining New Jersey’s fiscal fundamentals, written by Richard F. Keevey, the former budget director and comptroller for New Jersey and currently a senior policy fellow at the School of Planning and Policy at Rutgers University. The idea behind this series is to demystify some of the state’s financial challenges, and put them in context of the broader issues New Jersey faces. It’s also intended as a way to underscore the importance of state government in a year that will see a new governor and a new Legislature chosen by voters.

New Jersey has a strong central government. The governor has potent appointment and financial powers. New Jersey’s local governments like to tout their home-rule powers — and they’re correct in certain circumstances — but when it comes to municipal, county, and school finance the state’s powers and oversight are quite significant.

The office of the governor is viewed as the strongest in the country. Unlike many states, New Jersey’s governor (and lieutenant governor) are the only officers elected statewide, and all cabinet officers and principal state officials are appointed by the governor — unlike Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York, for example, where several cabinet officials are elected.

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