Good fiscal news out of Trenton is sufficiently scarce these days that Democrats and Republicans are both quick to take credit.
And when it comes to the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund - which is now solvent for the first time in years and no longer requires increased tax payments from employers - the truth is that both parties do deserve credit. And blame, too - for letting the fund get depleted in the first place.
A news release last week from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development trumpeted the fund's new solvency. When the recession hit and unemployment spiked, New Jersey did not have enough money in the fund and had to borrow $2 billion from the federal government to pay unemployment claims.
The fund was in poor shape because, between 1993 and 2006, past governors, with the Legislature's approval, diverted $4.6 billion from the fund to pay for other programs. Diverting money from the unemployment fund was a classic budget trick in good economic times.
The key reason the fund is solvent today is because, in 2010, voters approved a constitutional amendment - sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester - to prohibit any further diversions.
The Christie administration, however, also deserves credit for seriously attacking unemployment fraud and recouping hundreds of millions of dollars. Although, when you consider the brazenness of the fraud, the dollar amounts involved and the relatively simple steps that needed to be taken to combat that fraud, it's amazing it took this long for the state to act.
Inmates were collecting millions in unemployment claims. Better cross-checking of the inmate databases with the unemployment database stopped that.
Cross-checking the unemployment rolls with a national directory of new hires saved hundreds of millions of dollars by uncovering people who continued to collect even though they had found jobs. The state also seized tax refunds from people who had fraudulently received unemployment benefits and went after employers who were delinquent in their payments into the fund.
So that's all it took to make the fund solvent: The state stopped diverting the money. And it stopped letting people steal the money.
So yes, both parties deserve a piece of the credit for that. But they both deserve plenty of blame, too.