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(TRENTON) – Governor Phil Murphy joined with his Treasury Department today in mourning the passing of New Jersey’s Chief Economist, Dr. Ranjana G. Madhusudhan, Ph.D., whose keen insight helped influence the national economic discourse throughout a prolific career that spanned more than four decades, most of which was spent with Treasury in various roles.
Dr. Madhusudhan passed away Monday afternoon surrounded by family after a valiant battle with illness.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Ranjana Madhusudhan,” said Governor Murphy. “Throughout an exemplary four decades with the Department of the Treasury, she broke barriers as she rose to become the State’s Chief Economist. But, more importantly, I will remember Ranjana for her kindness and her fighting spirit. When I was struggling with my own health issues earlier this year, Ranjana did not hesitate to reach out, despite the fact that she, too, was facing a health challenge. My thoughts are with her family during this difficult time. She will be deeply missed.”
“The Department of the Treasury was incredibly fortunate to have benefited not only from Ranjana’s keen analytical skills, but also her unwavering dedication to her job and to our State,” said State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. “She has been an inspiration throughout her career, succeeding in a male dominated profession, and serving as a role model to economists throughout the region and the nation. Most importantly, she was a kind, thoughtful person who was a joy to work beside. She will be sorely missed by all of us who have had the privilege to call her our colleague and friend.”
Dr. Madhusudhan’s contributions as an economist span four decades and are well documented – from journal articles she authored to leadership positions she held in national associations, from panels she moderated and participated in to numerous footnotes referencing her work.
“I first met Ranjana more than two decades ago when I was working for the Legislature and we shared a bond as only a small number of women on our respective teams who worked on the state budget, taxes and revenue,” said Deputy Treasurer Catherine Z. Brennan. “Recently, when the Office of the State Treasurer, under the Murphy Administration, assembled a senior leadership team of all women, Ranjana was truly overjoyed by the thought of having women’s accomplishments recognized. She was a humble trailblazer and her appointment as Chief Economist last year was long overdue and well-earned. Her quiet but knowledgeable voice in the room, but most of all her friendship, will be missed.”
Dr. Madhusudhan began her career as a consultant and researcher for the World Bank in the early 1980’s and joined New Jersey state government in 1986 as a research associate for the independent State and Local Expenditure and Revenue Policy Commission. In 1993, she joined Treasury as a Supervising Tax Analyst for the Division of Taxation’s Office of Tax Analysis and assumed various roles within the department over the next three decades. In the latter part of her career, she spent eight years as the Deputy Director of Treasury’s Office of Revenue and Economic Analysis until becoming appointed Chief Economist for the office last year.
“I knew Ranjana since the 1990’s and during the last several years I had the honor of working directly with her at the Office of Revenue and Economic Analysis. She was always a dedicated and knowledgeable professional, proud of her career as a state revenue forecaster,” said Martin Poethke, Director of Treasury’s Office of Revenue and Economic Analysis. “Ranjana loved tracking tax revenue data, analyzing trends, planning for conferences, and connecting with her vast network of colleagues across the nation. But even more, Ranjana was a kind, gentle, caring person who thrived when spending time with others. Recently I was able to share some of Ranjana’s great joy in becoming a grandmother for the first time – an ‘Oma’ as I told her my German grandmother was called. She was so proud to be an Oma herself. Ranjana was one of the nicest people I ever met.”
Throughout her lengthy career, Dr. Madhusudhan built a stellar reputation amongst her peers, thanks in no small part to her hands-on collaboration with both the Federation of Tax Administrators and the National Tax Association (NTA), with whom she provided leadership on critical fiscal policy issues facing all levels of government. She specialized in tax policy, tax administration, revenue forecasting, and economic analysis, lending her insights to key projects and initiatives, including the Governing Board for the New Jersey Integrated Population Health Data Project and the State Sales and Use Tax Review Commission.
She also shared her considerable expertise as an adjunct faculty member at Rutgers University’s Bloustein School of Public Policy. Additionally, she generously devoted time and energy to various tax policy panels, including the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston and New York, the Rockefeller Institute of Government, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, participated in conferences and tax policy workshops, and led panel discussions across the country and in Europe.
These many collaborations also led to prestigious opportunities throughout her life, including a tenure as President of the National Tax Association, Co-Chair of the NTA’s Special 2008 Conference on Fiscal Sustainability, Annual Program Chair, and Chair of the NTA Banking and Gaming Committees, as well as a member of the Public Budgeting and Finance Editorial Board and the GASB Fiscal Sustainability Task Force on Economic Conditions Reporting.
Dr. Madhusudhan began her education at the University of Delhi in India, eventually going on to obtain B.A., M.A., and M.Phil. degrees in Economics before coming to the United States on a Fulbright scholarship to pursue her Ph.D. in Economics from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
She is survived by her husband, Madhu Kotta, her children, Aditya and Shefali Kotta, and her beloved granddaughter, Nora.