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WHICH STATE DEPARTMENTS ARE MOST EXPENDABLE?

Gov. Corzine’s budget plan responds rather drastically to public calls for spending cuts by proposing the elimination of entire state departments. When asked which departments they wouldn’t miss, this week’s respondents had mixed feelings. Most (42%) felt that the personnel department should go. The Department of Agriculture was considered expendable by 21% of readers (so much for the Garden State) and 11% wouldn’t grieve to see community affairs go. Only 5% thought commerce should be eliminated, and the remaining 21% wanted something other than the current options to be struck from the state rolls. Mike McGuinness, president of the New Jersey chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, did not choose a department for elimination, but he certainly knows what shouldn’t go. Here is what he told us:

“NJ Naiop usually stays out of these issues because it’s up to the administration. It’s not our job to manage the state’s budget.

“Having said that, it’s very important that the administration and legislature maintain sufficient staff in the departments that regulate land use and cleanups, DOT access permits and other things businesses need to expand or locate here. This is especially important given the state of the economy—it’s not in the greatest shape. Any department or agency that’s there to regulate land use for new or expanded facilities or roadway construction must continue to function at a high level if we’re going to grow our way out of this bad economy.

“What we don’t want is to lose businesses because things aren’t being done in a timely fashion. We don’t want to miss any opportunity to help a business expand or relocate here. We don’t want business leaders saying, ‘well, I’m going out of state because I couldn’t get a permit.’ It would be a shame if a business didn’t get a permit because the department had been reduced or eliminated or downsized to the point where they couldn’t meet their obligations or respond to applications for permits.”

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