Jockstrap Thinking at the BoG

March 26, 2008

The stark and nasty facts about the New Jersey economy are mounting fast.  The projected budget shortfall will be a lot more — a lot deeper — than Trenton initially projected, says the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services.  Per the Newark Star Ledger, “OLS’s forecast for next year is gloomier. It is predicting $288.7 million less than the governor projected in tax collections during the 12 months that begin July 1, mostly because of declines in sales and income taxes.

“When the two budget years are taken together, OLS expects the state to net about $134 million less in taxes than Gov. Jon Corzine forecast for the next 15 months.”

The AP adds this gloomy quotation from David Rosen, the legislative budget and finance officer: “It should be clear that most of the risk in this forecast is on the downside, and it is easy to imagine plausible economic scenarios in which the outcome is considerably more dire than the numbers we have provided.”

And yet no one in Trenton is calling for a halt on the stadium expansion boondoggle that will raise Rutgers’ indebtedness by 9 figures (count em!) — at a time when state support for the university will continue to fall.

As Rutgers transforms itself into the “Louisville of the North” — the apparent goal of the McCormick administration — we can only hope that clearer heads, who can do simple mathematics, will realize that these parlous economic times demand a halt to reckless expenditures such as the $100+ million stadium expansion.

The Ledger quotes Rutgers economist Joe Seneca:  “This recession has the potential to be broader and deeper than the two previous recessions that were shallow and brief.”

Is that the environment in which Rutgers ought to be undertaking a masssive capital project — one with uncertain funding and a sketchy repayment plan?

The answer is so obvious that one wonders what breed of Spitzer thinking has overtaken the BoG.  Certainly it looks as though they are letting their jockstraps do the hard thought!

Meantime, New Jersey high school seniors, we reiterate our counsel.  Get thee out of state for your higher education because here in the Garden State the outlook for scholarship has turned dismal — and it will only worsen.  The Rutgers BoG may live in a fantasy land where jockstraps don’t stink, but at least you don’t have to go to school there!


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