-- Clifford Goldman, former NJ State Treasurer and fiscal
expert, dies at age 75
Image: Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University
Clifford A. Goldman, New Jersey State Treasurer from 1976 to 1982 and a principal architect of the Byrne administration’s school finance reform package that led to adoption of the State’s first income tax in 1976, died at his home in Ewing Township on September 16.
His wife Irene said the cause of death was leukemia, He was 75. A widely respected expert in public finance, Mr. Goldman also served in the administrations of Governors Hughes and Cahill and assisted in the transition planning for several later administrations. In 1982, he established a financial consulting firm, Goldman, Beale Associates, that advised dozens of state agencies and New Jersey municipalities including Newark, Trenton, Jersey City, Paterson, North Bergen and Camden on fiscal and financing concerns.
A graduate of Rutgers where he was a Henry Rutgers Honors Scholar, he held M.A. and PhD degrees from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs where he was later a visiting professor in public finance.
Mr. Goldman first served in New Jersey government as an assistant to Paul Ylvisaker, the state’s first Commissioner of Community Affairs. In 1969, he was named the Executive Director of the newly created Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission. In 1974, he was named Deputy State Treasurer and was tasked with composing Governor Brendan Byrne’s response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that the state’s school finance violated the NJ constitution. That response, which included a new school finance formula, a 2% income tax, spending caps on school and municipal budgets and property tax relief for owners whose tax bill exceeded a percentage of income, passed the state assembly but failed in the senate.
In 1976, the supreme court ordered the schools shut down and the legislature enacted a revised version of the school aid and income tax package, ending decades of political stalemate.
When a near default on New York City debt threatened the financial stability of New Jersey cities as well, Mr. Goldman proposed a plan for channeling state aid directly to city bond trustees, a no-cost measure that reopened the bond market and guaranteed a minimum A credit rating for the state’s municipalities and school districts. The proposal was codified in 1975 as the NJ Qualified Bond Act.
Soon after that, he proposed that the assets of the constitutionally established Fund for Support of Free Public Schools be pledged by statute to service school bonds in the event of default. Statutory approval of that measure raised the minimum rating of all school bonds to AA. Together, these initiatives have reduced debt service costs for local and school borrowers by millions of dollars.
Appointed State Treasurer by Governor Byrne in 1976, Mr. Goldman successfully oversaw the Department’s glitch-free implementation of the new State income tax, which required quick, accurate processing of paperwork that exceeded many times the total previously handled by all of NJ government.
He also proposed refinancings of the outstanding debt of both the NJ College of Medicine and Dentistry and the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority. After voter approval, these steps produced major cost savings for both. In the case of the Sports Authority, the savings were sufficient to offset the construction costs of the Meadowlands Arena.
He urged also that, where feasible, the State replace the costly practice of leasing its office space from private owners with a new State entity which could design and finance office construction at annual costs far cheaper than market lease rates. In 1981, Governor Byrne approved legislation establishing the NJ State Building Authority and a major facelift of downtown Trenton began,
The State had seen its credit rating reduced from AAA to AA by Moody’s in 1975. With adoption of the income tax, Mr. Goldman argued that the State’s financial foundation was again sound and that a rating upgrade was in order. Moody’s agreed and restored its highest rating. At the end of Governor Byrne’s term, New Jersey was one of few state’s holding AAA ratings from all three major rating services and it’s public employee pension systems were funded at 105% of accrued liability. Until his illness, Mr. Goldman had served as chairperson of the Mercer County Alliance to End Homelessness since 2009. Mr. Goldman married Irene Etkin in 1965. In addition to her, he is survived by 2 sons, Daniel and Paul, a granddaughter and a brother Richard.
Interviews, Brendan Byrne Archive, Center on the American Governor, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University