Monday, March 23, 2009


Tomorrow, (3/24/09) the Assembly Budget Committee and the State Senate Budget Committee will hold separate public hearings on Governor Jon Corzine’s FY 2010 State Budget. The Assembly panel will gather in the State House Annex. The Senate Committee will be at Montclair State University. These are public hearings so, here’s your chance to vent. However, be prepared to wait.

Public hearings on budget proposals literally go on for hours and hours and usually the usual suspects get preferential treatment. The same lobbyists and special interests who roam the State House halls every day are typically the ones given the opportunity to testify first as the “public” sits in the gallery waiting. One thing you should know going in; no matter how patient you are or how great a waiter you think you may be, these committees will test you. You could wait for hours, step out to use the restroom and come back to find your name was called while you were gone. You’ll get another shot, just not right away.

I’ve been attending these budget committee hearings for 8 years and I cannot tell you how many times a member of the “public” is called to testify 5 or 6 hours into a meeting. Many simply leave because they’re bored or convinced their name will never be called. If you are a member of the “public” and you plan to speak at one of these public hearings, bring a book, but leave your watch at home.

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