New Year’s Resolutions For Garden State Government

BY: MICHAEL M. SHAPIRO

It’s the time of the year when we reflect on the past year and make our resolutions for the new one. Because we can never be sure that our elected officials do reflect on the past and vow to make changes in the New Year, here are some resolutions that our representatives in Garden State government would do well to make and keep.

As New Jersey’s deficit skyrockets, the first resolution for the New Year should be to develop a fiscally responsible budget that cuts wasteful spending even if it means that the politicians will not be able to bring as much “pork-barrel” spending to their districts. State programs should be aggressively audited to root out waste, fraud and abuse. All unnecessary paid political appointees should be dismissed. All last-minute budget appropriations should be refused.

The second resolution should be to pass meaningful ethics reform in New Jersey. “Pay to Play” reform needs to be enacted at every level of government throughout the State. In addition, double-dipping must be banned at every level of government and all who are currently double-dipping should be given until the end of 2008 to eliminate their additional public jobs or fall under the double-dipping reform suggested. Conflict of interest laws must be strengthened to prevent elected officials from steering public work to their private businesses. Finally, campaign finance reform should be enacted which enables qualified citizens, who believe public office is a public trust, to run. This reform would level the playing field for such candidates so that they can compete with incumbents who are funded by special interests.

A third and final resolution for the New Year would be for our elected officials to be upfront and honest with our citizens about the problems our State faces and have an open dialogue regarding how we can best solve them. If information was not kept from the public and instead was disseminated in a straight-forward and honest manner, our citizens would respond in kind. It is time for our elected officials to treat us like the savvy consumers we are rather than politicking and pandering to insulate themselves from losing re-election.

It is rather uncommon to tell others your New Year’s wishes as it is said that those who do will not see their wishes come true. Hopefully that is an old-wive’s tale.

Michael M. Shapiro, founder of ShapTalk.com, is an attorney who resides in New Providence, New Jersey. He currently serves as the Editor of The Alternative Press, www.thealternativepress.com. Contact Mike at mike@shaptalk.com.

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