Spotlight: Dr. Budget

As the finance guru of the Office of Legislative Services, David Rosen wears many hats and answers to many titles, including Dr. Rosen. Just don't expect the Rutgers' PhD to refer to himself by that moniker

David Rosen

Title: Legislative Budget and Finance Officer, Office of Legislative Services

Age: 63

Credit: NJ Spotlight
David J. Rosen, chief budget officer of the Office of Legislative Services (OLS)

Why he’s a player: When Rosen speaks, the Legislature doesn’t just listen, it may actually learn something. As the finance guru of the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS), he is relied on to provide objective analyses of bills, policies and the state’s budget. His testimony and conservative revenue estimates in Gov. Chris Christie’s first months in office have made front-page news.

The doctor thing: Often referred to as “Dr. Rosen,” Rosen said that’s not a title he ever uses for himself. He holds a PhD in political science from Rutgers, where he was a professor before coming to OLS. But the title came from the Whitman years when a Republican politician, former Sen. Robert Littell (R-Sussex), wanted to use Rosen’s revenue estimates to counter the governor’s. “And he started to referring to me as ‘Dr. Rosen’ to add credibility. It caught on over time, now it’s too prevalent to wipe out”

Sam Alito’s father and his ethos: Rosen was hired in 1984 by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s father, then director of the OLS. “He told us we were to remain invisible. Part of his ethos was for us to be in the background, and even though there were a fair number of PhDs, he deliberately didn’t want us to be referred that way.”

Playing the middle: “We work for everybody, both parties, both houses, rogue members who aren’t part of the leadership, all of them. So simultaneously you’re working with a legislator on some fiscal analysis, and may work with another who wants arguments to shoot it down. It requires you to be very careful. You literally have to partition your brain. What it often means is that when negotiations go on, I may be one person who knows everyone’s position. ”

Common line in testimony: “It depends on the methodology.”

Committee hearing vs. college classroom: “Some of the legislators know much more about a subject than I will, and I learn from them. Certainly they are much more engaged than in a typical college classroom. Here it matters.”

Hometown: Hopewell Township. Wife, Georgia, and two sons, one a Washington, D.C. lawyer and the other a travel writer in Ecuador and Peru.