NJBiz.com’s Daniel J. Munoz reviewed Garden State Initiative’s new research report: Adding It All Up: An Impartial Look at New Jersey’s $117 Billion Government:
The cost of keeping the lights on for over 1,500 state, county and municipal government agencies figures in at nearly $117 billion, according to a report by the right-leaning think tank Garden State Initiative released Wednesday.
All told, those three layers of state government raised $86 billion. Add on federal funds and that number shoots up to just over $100 billion.
Add to that revenues from public worker fund investments, and revenue from authorities operating in the state, such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and that number tops off at just over $120 billion.
Property taxes account for $28 billion, or 24 percent of all revenue collected, according to the report, while public employee benefits account for 22 percent of the $117 billion spent.
The lack of centralization among the government bodies collecting the revenues proved difficult for the authors of the study, according to the report.
The Morristown-based group said that in follow-up studies it will unveil ways the state can cut an array of costs.
GSI, according to the report, plans to scrutinize spending on student-transportation services, school facilities, government inspection and the road maintenance process as areas of potential savings at upwards of $1 billion.
“Why do four different layers of government need to plow the streets?” reads the report. “Why do so many school districts need to manage their own student transportation needs?”
Wednesday’s report comes at a time when the state legislature and governor’s office, both controlled by Democrats, are hashing out competing proposals on how to cut costs within state government.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, put together a fiscal workgroup, which in August 2018 recommended reducing the levels of health coverage for public workers, moving certain pension participants partially or completely into a 401k-like retirement plan, and merging many municipal and county services.
Gov. Phil Murphy has opposed pension cuts and instead made many agreements with public worker unions to shave off health care costs.