In Albany ( which is highly dysfunctional ) the budget process often comes down to “three men in a room.” The Assembly Speaker, Senate Majority Leader and the Governor all get together and bang out a deal, then the members simply vote for it.
Well, here in New Jersey the process is a bit more inclusive. One might even argue too inclusive. The budget is crafted after everyone gets their say which seems like a fairer way to go about it. But this year might be different. I am hearing that Senate President Steve Sweeney is working closely with Christie to craft a deal. Many legislators have now told me that there have been limited conversations with them about what the budget will look like. That could mean that nothing is happening, or it could mean the two leaders are horse trading behind closed doors. I tend to believe the latter. It sounds like Sweeney is quietly getting some of the restorations he wants while ultimately going along with some of the Governor’s big proposals.
So, “two men in a room” could wind up making this deal happen. That’s of course not to be confused the with atrocious 1991 Elton John tribute album “Two Rooms” which celebrated the unique musical collaboration of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. I never really understood why that was such a big deal…I mean one guy does the writing, the other guy puts it to music. Who cares??? I remember everyone making such a big deal about that “magical collaboration” back when the album first came out. And I am not just launching into an irrational tirade because Elton John makes me want crash the car into railing…although I think we can all agree that “The Lion King” soundtrack was a bit much.
Anyway, not to drift too far off topic – two men in a room may very well determine what this budget looks like. And solid evidence of that includes that Sweeney and Christie seem to be the only two guys who insist there will be no government shutdown. Clearly, they know something we all don’t.