New Jersey Legislature Passes Christie’s Budget

Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey’s Democratic-controlled Legislature has approved a $29.4 billion budget, sending back to the Republican governor a spending plan that cuts hundreds of millions of dollars in public school aid, suspends property tax rebates and adds levies on businesses, students, the elderly and the disabled.

The budget, approved by the Assembly early Tuesday morning and by the Senate hours earlier, is close to the one Gov. Chris Christie introduced in March amid some blunt talk about the state’s bleak finances. He said New Jersey was facing an $11 billion deficit and needed to cure its addiction to spending.

Democrats got just $74 million in programs and services restored to the budget out of roughly $400 million sought. They insisted that Republicans sponsor the budget bills, so the GOP would own the bare-bones budget.

Christie was scheduled to sign his first budget Tuesday afternoon. The fiscal year starts Thursday.
In the Senate, Democrats supplied the four votes needed for the budget to pass. All 17 Republicans supported the budget, and it was approved 21-19.

The Assembly took up the main appropriations bill at 10:30 p.m. Monday and debated it for three hours before passing the budget along party lines. Eight Democrats joined 33 Republicans to get the budget approved, 41-37.

…Lou Greenwald, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, said the budget was “loaded with tax increases” for average New Jerseyans.

“Unfortunately, the pain is coming and it will be real and it will be immediate,” he said. “You’re staring down a tax-laden budget that puts all the pain atop working class New Jerseyans, seniors and disabled households and the poor.”

Even Republicans said they didn’t like parts of the budget, which cuts spending by 9 percent over last year. But, Republican Sen. Joe Pennacchio commended Christie for charting a more responsible fiscal course for the future while Democratic Majority Leader Barbara Buono said the budget contains wrong-headed choices.

The budget skips a $3 billion contribution to the state pension system, for example, and saves $848 million over last year by suspending property tax rebates…

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