Thursday, April 22, 2010

Festival likely safe from budget broadside

Last week, there was a economic shot across the bow of the USS New Jersey, the retired battleship that's now a maritime museum on Camden's Delaware River waterfront and lately the site of the annual Jersey-only craft beer festival.

The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that Gov. Chris Christie's proposed budget would choke off grant money to museums and other historical sites, effectively ramming a $1.7 million hole in the battleship's operating finances.

But the important thing to realize about this dire news is that it won't sink the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild festival set for Jun 26th on the battleship's fantail. Or at least, that's the word right now, that it's still full steam ahead for the first Saturday of summer. (It's a rain-or-shine event, but there's a canopy over the fantail.)

For one thing, the governor proposes the budget; the Legislature thumbs up or down what's in it, and then the two branches wrestle over their differences. And the end product doesn't take effect until July 1st, the start of the next fiscal year. So even if Trenton finishes all the budget work by the time of the festival, it's rather unlikely the funding cuts will be in play at that point.

However, there is one small caveat: If there's a shortfall in the existing budget, the 2009-2010 fiscal year (and there have been these kinds problems annually going back a decade), some robbing Peter and paying Paul can happen.

But the bottom line is: Don't worry. Make your plans to go to the festival and pray for a sunny day. Last year, a steady rain fell on the event; this year, those budget blues probably won't.

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