In a budget season marked by the kind of secrecy and lack of transparency that would make the late Umberto Eco blush, Democrats in the senate and assembly budget committees ramrodded a ballooning $54.3 billion budget in the dead of a river town night.
Crammed with sweeteners to make it look like a public-interested document, the lantern-jawed budget is a “piece of s-t wrapped inside a sow’s ear,” according to one insider, who apparently was trying to channel Winston Churchill when the British Prime Minister likened the Nazi-Soviet Pact to “a riddle wrapped in an enigma.”
Wearied but not to the point of losing a sense of moral outrage, Republicans opposed the bill, which Democrats backed.
The picture of diplomatic restraint, state Senator Mike Testa (R-1) called the process a “mess”.
“Despite Democrats telling the public that the budget was done days ago and blaming yesterday’s delays and mistakes in the budget and score sheets on the hard-working staff at OLS, everyone paying attention knows the truth,” said the Republican. “The blame for the last-minute rush, the inaccurate score sheet, and the lack of an actual budget bill that anyone could review at time the bill was approved late last night lies squarely at the feet of Democrat leaders.
“They want to hide their own feeding frenzy of pork that lasted almost until midnight when the budget had to be adopted to prevent a government shutdown. This is cowardly and belies the Democrats’ disdain for the public, press, the legislative process, and transparency. It’s disappointing that Democrats are willing to throw the people who worked the hardest for them under the bus to deflect blame for their own failures. We know who’s really to blame.”
The last-minute body dumping, numbers dumbing, mind-numbing and ho-humming exercise came against the backdrop of Democrats ballyhooing the StayNJ proposal made by Speaker Craig Coughlin, which looked great at 4:47 yesterday (enough to get the backing of the GOP), and by midnight looked, dangerously, even by the reckoning of its backers, like lipstick on a gorilla-in-the-room-sized pig.
Lungs-searing smog from Canadian wildfires threatened to suffocate the population here, while providing more obfuscation in the interest of majority lawmakers intent on a shadowy full-court press.
If Coughlin can try to wrangle some political capital out of the senior citizens’ assistance program, his upper chamber counterpart, state Senate President Nick Scutari (D-22), can perhaps improve his shot at another term on the throne by keeping the lights dimmed and the trains running not on time – but at a fever pace ahead of next week’s deadline.
“The bosses are watching,” harrumphed the same Churchill-friendly statehouse source, apparently in hallway hurry-up mode. “Nick has a real shot here” to blast the budget through with as few eyeballs as possible observing the damage, “er, the public good.”
“We are voting on what is in front of us,” Scutari told NJ Spotlight’s John Reitmeyer, before state Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29) issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court decision which will prevent institutions of higher education from considering a student’s race as a factor in its holistic review of each applicant for admissions:
“Born out of a recognition that historical inequities continue to plague society, affirmative action emerged as a remedy for the deep-rooted biases that hindered the progress of marginalized communities in this nation. Its purpose was not to perpetuate division, but to rectify the injustices of the past and dismantle deeply ingrained barriers, that challenged the status quo and paved the way towards a future where everyone has an equal chance to thrive. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is profoundly disappointing and reminds us that the pursuit of equality is a complex struggle, requiring ongoing reflection and recalibration. I agree with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s statement in her dissent, ‘If the colleges of this country are required to ignore a thing that matters, it will not just go away. It will take longer for racism to leave us. And, ultimately, ignoring race just makes it matter more.’ We have a collective responsibility to confront systematic barriers and empower those who have been marginalized. Despite this blow, I am hopeful colleges and universities around the country may find a way to continue to consider the whole student they are admitting. Our students are much more than GPAs and standardized test scores and they deserve to be considered for the individual they are and the rich diverse perspectives and lived experiences that they bring to the table.”
Outrage, in fact, abided.
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