Budget hearings come to South Jersey this week

Gov. Christie has laid out his budget. The Legislature has reacted, and so have the various interest groups who fuel daily life in Trenton. Now the public gets its first official chance to weigh in.

The Senate and Assembly budget committees are holding their first public budget hearings this week, including two in South Jersey. The events are usually full of the same lobbyists and organizations that we see in Trenton every day, but they also offer voters a chance to come face to face with lawmakers. Many panel members seem relieved when they see an everyday resident, instead of a familiar Trenton face with a familiar script.

The Assembly Budget Committee hosts the first South Jersey hearing Wednesday at the Scottish Rite Auditorium, 315 Whitehorse Pike, in Collingswood, starting at 9:30 a.m. On Thursday the Senate budget committee will be at the Rutgers-Camden School of Law, starting at 9 a.m. Those wishing to testify can sign up at the Legislature's web site, though many time slots have already filled up.

The hearing schedule begins Tuesday in Paramus, with the Senate budget committee. Each panel will hold three meetings to take public input. The ones on Wednesday and Thursday are the only events in South Jersey. The full schedule is here.

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