Contributed by Deb Kline.
It’s Budget time in the Garden State! The unofficial start of the NJ Budget season is upon us, traditionally kicked off by the Governor’s annual budget address held on or before the fourth Tuesday in February. What does NJ plan to do with approximately $40million it generates in tax revenues? With the pandemic cutting sharply into tax revenues and demanding new expenditures, will there be enough? Can one person have any influence over how the money is spent – or not? A good summary of some of the major issues facing this year’s legislature and budget can be found in this NJ Spotlight piece by John Reitmayer, who writes on the budget.
Our friends at the New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP) want us to be informed about the process and where we can have an impact. You can read NJPP’s Budget 101 guide here. In addition, here’s where citizens can potentially affect how our dollars are spent:
- While the governor is preparing the budget proposal, residents can contact the governor’s office to voice support for specific programs or initiatives that rely on state funding.
- You can also contact the governor’s office later in the budget process to voice support for or opposition to potential programs at risk of being cut or line-item vetoed.
- During the Legislature’s budget hearings, one of the best ways for residents to ensure their voices are heard is to testify at one of three public hearings offered by the Senate and Assembly budget committees. These hearings are often held across the state, with one meeting in each region of New Jersey: North, Central, and South. Anyone who signs up to testify can give comments.
- Writing, calling, and emailing legislators, including your own representative as well as those serving on the budget committees, with concerns or questions regarding a particular program or initiative is another way to ensure your voice is heard.
- During the month of June, legislators negotiate the final budget within their caucuses and with the governor’s office. This when advocates are the most active, lobbying and otherwise engaging legislators and the general public. This is a great opportunity to tap into your local advocacy organizations and meet with legislators about items in the budget that are of concern to you.
Run for office in Hunterdon County – Anyone interested in running for an office at the County level in Hunterdon must have their petition into the County Clerk’s office by 4 pm Monday, April 5, 2021 to appear on the June Primary Election ballot. 100 signatures are required on the petition, which can be found here. Board of Commissioners anyone? Contact Mary Melfi for more information on this and other offices at the municipal or school board level.