Rowan Institute for Public Policy & Citizenship (RIPPAC) hosted New Jersey State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio last Thursday, Feb. 2, as she spoke on the topic of strengthening New Jersey through fiscal policy.
“I’ve often said that the state budget is the ultimate policy document. It’s not just charts and numbers. It’s a roadmap that says, ‘This is where we want to go. And this is how we plan on getting there.’ And depending on your priorities, each map is different,” Muoio said.
Muoio became state treasurer back in April 2018, and even though she’s only New Jersey’s second woman to hold the position, she has never felt the need to adhere to stereotypical societal norms thanks in large part to her upbringing.
“I also grew up in a household with three sisters. My mother worked and my grandmothers both worked. There was never a feeling that if there was something that I wanted to do I couldn’t do because I was a girl or a woman,” Muoio said.
Benjamin Dworkin, the director of RIPPAC, was thankful to not only have Muoio in attendance but also for his students to be able to witness firsthand that achieving a high-ranking government position is not impossible.
“When students have an opportunity to meet this person who seems much more real, then if you read about the Treasurer of the State of New Jersey, she’s a lawyer who was an undergraduate and this is where you ended up,” Dworkin said. “So just understanding that this is not an impossible career path, understanding that these people are not in surmountable. They’re not high on a mountain. They have prominent positions. And any of our students can grow up and be exactly what they’re doing.”
Being the state treasurer leaves Muoio in charge of managing the budget set forth by Governor Phil Murphy each year until it is finalized. The total process of getting the budget approved is a long one that lasts a full fiscal year starting on July 1 and ending on June 30.
For most of the year, Muoio and the Office of Management and Budget develop the budget, litigating with state departments on their funding for the fiscal year then deciding where to allocate the funds based on revenue estimates.
Back in June, Governor Murphy signed into law a $50.6 billion state budget for the 2023 fiscal year, the largest state budget in New Jersey’s history.
Reilly Kerr, a junior political science major, was impressed with the amount of work that goes into creating the budget.
“The thing that stood out to me the most was when she went in-depth with how the budget process really comes together, and what she’s going to do from the Governor’s proposal all the way until July first when the budget is released. So, you know, having all those meetings and talking to all those people and getting the whole process together is really fascinating,” Kerr said.
While most of the evening was spent discussing fiscal policies, Muoio made it a point during her speech to implore young students to get involved in public service.
“It’s such a critically important part of our lives — government service and all the resources it provides and the people it takes care of. We want to continue to make sure that people enter that profession. Especially students who are obviously interested in government service because they’re here and they’re part of the Institute and part of Professor Dworkins’ programs,” Muoio said. “We want to ensure that they use government service and working for government, whatever level that is… because it’s so important that we need good people to make sure that future generations have services and good minds thinking about policy for years to come.”
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