Spotlight: Budget Chairman

John Mooney, Founding Editor | April 26, 2010
Louis Greenwald is interested in answers, and the chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee is willing to wait for them. A recent grilling of Education Commissioner Bret Schundler stretched to five hours. Greenwald may have lost his patience, but he remained impeccably turned out

Name: Louis Greenwald, N.J. Assemblyman, Sixth Legislative District (Camden County), Democrat

Setting: Assembly hearing on Gov. Chris Christie’s education budget

Occupation: Attorney, Remington and Vernick Engineers

Age: 43

What makes him a player: Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. First and last to speak in this year’s marathon sessions over Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed $28.3 billion budget plan. Has chaired the panel for nine years. This one has been the toughest so far. “…They [the governor’s office] have been less forthcoming.”

Can get testy: Always civil to witnesses. Greenwald’s exchanges with Gov. Chris Christie’s commissioners can get heated. Today, with Education Commissioner Bret Schundler testifying, Greenwald accused the commissioner of “dodging” a query, “distorting the record,” and being “stuck on a sound bite.” The hearing lasted five hours.

Credit: NJ Spotlight
Louis Greenwald, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, has held the post for nine years.

How being a lawyer helps: “I can tell where he’s fudging, where he’s pushing the envelope and where some of the answers are more long-winded because he doesn’t have the information. That’s my lawyer background, and having done it awhile, I can tell where the weaknesses are.”

Republican response: After five hours, Assemblyman Joseph Malone, the senior Republican on the committee, released a statement calling today’s session a “nightmare.” Without naming names, Malone cited the Democrats’ lengthy focus on Schundler’s record as Jersey City mayor 15 years ago and the idea of using local income taxes to help ease the fiscal crisis. Both were among Greenwald’s line of questions.

Not partisan: “We’ve done it with Democratic commissioners too, that’s our job. They’re not a guest here. They are doing their job, I’m doing my job.”

Style: Dresses impeccably, Monday’s wide pin-stripe suit and pink shirt included.

Family: Lives in Voorhees with his wife, Cynthia, and three children. His mother, the late Marie Barnaby Greenwald, was the first female mayor of Cherry Hill and first female Camden County freeholder.