Governor-elect Chris Christie Thursday named who he believes to be two budget and fiscal experts to chair a transition task force on budget and taxes and asked them to get to work immediately on developing recommendations to help address New Jersey's fiscal challenges.
Christie named former Republican legislator Richard H. Bagger of Westfield, an executive at Pfizer Inc and a former chairman of the lower house's Appropriations Committee, and Robert E. Grady, a Livingston native, former aide to Gov. Thomas Kean and former top official at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as co-chairmen of the task force.
"Addressing the problems facing New Jersey's economy is my highest priority, " Christie said, "and with these two experienced budget and fiscal experts helping me spearhead our efforts we are able to get to work right away."
Bagger and Grady will help develop recommendations to address the fiscal deficit that state experts have estimated at over $8 billion for the upcoming 2010-11 budget year, and to respond to the shortfall in projected state revenues in the current 2009-10 fiscal year. They will recruit additional task force members and staff to address the fiscal emergency.
Bagger served in the Assembly from 1993 to 2002 and in the Senate from 2002 to 2003. He was chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee from 1998 to 2002. He was a former councilman and mayor of Westfield. Currently, he serves as senior vice president for worldwide public affairs at Pfizer Inc. Earlier in his career, Bagger served as assistant general counsel of Blue Cross/Blue Shield and was an attorney with the Newark-based law firm of McCarter and English.
Grady served as chief of staff to the late New Jersey Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick, as director of communications for Kean, and as deputy assistant to the president and associate director of OMB in the administration of President George H.W. Bush. For the last decade, he had been the partner in charge of venture capital investing at The Carlyle Group, one of the world's largest private equity firms. Before retiring this summer and joining Cheyenne Capital Fund, a private equity firm, he served as chairman of the National Venture Capital Association in 2006-2007 and as a professor at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business from 1994-2004.
— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM