That’s a big hole to fill, so he’d better get shoveling


It sure didn’t take our governorelect long to start looking like someone had whacked him upside the head with a two-by-four, did it?

There he was on the news last week after a meeting with the state treasury people, saying that things are even worse than he imagined. What everyone was saying would likely be a $6 billion deficit for the 2011 fiscal year now looks like it will be $8 billion, or more.

Think about this: $8 billion is eight thousandmillion. That means with a population of about 8.6 million people in New Jersey, each and every one of them would have to write a check for $921.38 just to close the deficit.

How to fix it? Well, those tax decreases he talked so much about are gonna be off the table, and it’s my prediction that the property tax rebates we’d been hoping would come back won’t be far behind.

At this point, at least he’s promising that there’ll be no income tax increases, but I don’t think we should start celebrating yet. For one thing, the state has already made substantial reductions in the money it sends back to towns, and there’ll undoubtedly be more of those reductions. Which means your local property taxes are going to go up as communities scramble to keep their own financial ships afloat.

He’s also promising to get tough with the 75,000 people who work for the state and get more concessions from them through their unions. That’s a fine plan. But even if he can avoid giving them raises for a while, that’s not going to go far in reducing that deficit.

Personally, I don’t think government employees should get raises in years when the national cost of living stays flat or decreases, and they certainly shouldn’t get a raise in any year Social Security recipients don’t get one, but that’s just me.

State employees gave up their scheduled 3.5 percent raise this year and took some unpaid furlough days in return for a no-layoff pledge through December 2010. Christie says that under his administration, big cuts to the number of state employees will have to be on the table. But that’s all still small potatoes compared to the size of the problem.

The fact is that New Jersey is on the brink of financial collapse, just like California was last year when deficits brought the state to its knees. And because the economy is improving, but not quickly enough, some experts think that projected $8 billion deficit might be considerably greater.

Which means, of course, that at some point Christie will have to go back on his word and raise taxes. He’ll do it because he’ll have no choice.

That’s my prediction at any rate. I would sure love to be proven wrong, but we have to be realistic.

• • •

And while we’re in such a good mood, have you heard about this new movie “2012” that’s supposed to be such a big, technical-effects blockbuster this holiday season?

The movie is based on something in ancientMayan calendars that said the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012, and features the spectacular destruction of most of the world’s cities, landmarks and population.

Perfect. Let’s finish our Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, then pop out to watch a movie about the end of the world to put us in the holiday spirit.

If this movie (and lots of recent gloom-and-doom programs on the same topic on the History Channel) is true, it sure might put Black Friday in a new perspective and give retailers a real boost.

Most folks have been cutting back on their purchases due to the lousy economy, and most retailers have been expecting a dismal holiday season. But if we knew, or believed, the world is going to end, there’s nothing to stop us from maxing out every credit card we’ve got, is there? Might as well enjoy the last couple of holiday seasons we’ve got coming. Right?

If the world ends, who are they gonna collect from?

I sure hope my wife buys that logic when I show up this weekend with the huge, flatscreen television I’ve had my eye on for a while.

Just kidding, honey. Just kidding.

• • •

In my column last week about Thanksgiving disasters, I wrote about a young husband and wife who’d never cooked a turkey before, and ended up going at the bird with shears in an effort to cut out its giblets. They did this because they didn’t know what giblets are, or where to look for them.

I didn’t name those cooks, because I have some decency. But after the column ran, I did hear from some of their family members, who told me that not only was my account spot-on, it was actually worse than had been reported.

Here’s what my informant (who happens to be the woman’s sister) said:

“In addition to the funny giblets story, (name withheld) also tried to make a carrot dish that same year. She marinated carrots in orange juice and they were just terrible to eat. To try to help (name withheld) feel better about her ‘open heart’ surgery turkey and terrible orange juice carrots, we went around the table to tell our favorite parts of the meal. Of the favorite things we mentioned, we made sure we told her we loved the canned cranberries, Coke, salt, pepper and anything else that could possibly have been store-bought and not homemade.”

I got a real hoot out of that message (and one from her mom, who confirmed everything), and it proves the Fifth Axiom of Bean’s Laws of Personal Dynamics: Anybody can put salt in your wounds, but if you’re looking for someone to put salt, lemon juice and rubbing alcohol on them, and cackle gleefully while doing it, you’ve got to go to family.

• • •

As of this morning [Thursday], Wal-Mart and Amazon were offering Sarah Palin’s new book “Going Rogue” for $9 a copy, if you buy it from the company’s online site.

I have no more intention of reading that book than I do of drilling holes in my own teeth, but at that price, I might buy one as a gag gift for one of my liberal friends.

I’ll wait until it comes down even more, though. Say on Dec. 22, 2012.

Gregory Bean is the former executive editor of Greater Media Newspapers. You can reach him at [email protected].