TRENTON – In these backward times, nothing seems more backwards than the upcoming state budget. Anyone tasked with writing a state budget story is prepared to dedicate reams of paper to the ongoing fact that New Jersey is hopelessly, endlessly broke. And that is what makes this budget year so, dare we say, interesting. New Jersey is flush with cash. Like Rolls Royce kind of cash. The kind of money that burns through your double-ply trouser pocket and it just doesn’t matter. How flush, exactly? New Jersey stands to collect roughly $550 million more than the governor’s own projections over two fiscal years, a tremendous and unique gift for a guy who just happens to be running for re-election. The state is now looking at an unbelievable $6.3 billion surplus, fueled with plenty of borrowing and generous federal handouts, with cash raining down on all. Truly backwards.

TRENTON – Time for some Jersey payback? No, we’re not talking about discarding a body in the Meadowlands. We’re talking about the fact the state borrowed $4 billion last year, preparing for impending financial disaster at the hands of COVID-19. But now that Gov. Phil Murphy has stockpiled more cash than the budget of some third-world nations, many are looking at the $44.4 billion the state now owes. Hmm. What to do? The governor could choose to spend like a drunken sailor on leave, pretty much ensuring re-election. Or, he can go the ho-hum route, and quietly retire some of the looming debt that strangles the state, year after year. Be boring, governor. Please.

MORRISTOWN – Feeling ignored? Like no one gives a hoot what you think? Well, here’s a sure fire way to get every news outlet to write about you: Go to a restaurant, stiff your server and write a nasty note on the check. The latest story in this same storyline comes from the Glenbrook Brewery, with social media showing a receipt with no tip on an $86.37 bill. And this message: “I’m sorry the server gets screwed on this. Don’t kick paying customers out after 90 minutes.” Those are state-mandated COVID rules, buddy, not from the bar. And that’s why there has been more than $1,000 in sympathy tips, and counting, on Venmo for the stiffed server who, like the customer, remains anonymous.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

“Spoonfeed” is the longest English word with its letters in reverse alphabetical order.

WAYNE – Have it your way. Unless you choke the Burger King employee. A local man is in a Whopper of trouble after he tried to strangle a female employee over the restaurant’s mask policy. No, we don’t make this stuff up; it’s printed in the Record. The 47-year-old resident apparently got in an argument with the employee and returned later, wrapping both hands around her neck, until other BK workers intervened, perhaps smacking him upside the head with one of those handy plastic trays. (Thank you, editorial license.) The assailant fled, and was nabbed on Newark-Pompton Turnpike. He told the cop: “You got me,” and then resisted arrest, slamming his head against a metal bench, always a great exclamation point when you act like a kook.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Third floor! Perfume. Women’s Shoes. Housewares. Well, not any more at this Macy’s, which has been converted into a high school. Students now zip up and down the escalators, and run across the white-tiled flooring, at the all-new “Downtown Burlington High School.” The shuttered department store was the smart solution when school officials discovered toxic industrial chemicals in the high school, just two miles away. “It’s weird, but cool at the same time,” said one freshman, before his morning wedgie. School officials spent $3.5 million to retrofit the store, which still features such Macy’s staples as Calvin Klein and Michael Kors signs and a large-scale Levi’s jeans photo on a classroom wall, with books displayed on under-lit shelves.  All good; but coupons are no longer valid for missing homework.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

In a sign of many, many things to come, the Florida Marlins experience their first loss in franchise history, 4-2, to the Dodgers.

WORD OF THE DAY

Wigged-out – [WIGD-OUT] – adjective

Definition: Mentally or emotionally discomposed; upset or crazy

Example: After last night’s Baylor win, I’m wigged-out. I was “this close” to winning my bracket with Gonzaga.

WIT OF THE DAY

“Attitude is everything, so pick a good one.” 

-Wayne Dyer

BIDEN BLURB

“We can do this. We have to do this. We will do this.”

-Joe Biden

WEATHER IN A WORD

Lovely