Lawmakers vote along party lines to permit at least $5 billion in new debt to deal with economic fallout of pandemic
BY JOHN REITMEYER, NJSpotlight
Legislation that would give Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration the authority to borrow billions of dollars to help offset projected revenue losses brought on by the ongoing pandemic cleared the Assembly Thursday in a party-line vote.
Amends Budget to Restrict Spending to Lower Levels than FY2008 and FY2009 Budgets, Provides Sound $600 Million Surplus
Trenton, NJ – For the third year in a row, Governor Chris Christie today signed into law a constitutionally balanced budget that delivers on key priorities for the people of New Jersey without raising taxes. The Governor’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget as enacted spends $31.7 billion, which is lower than the Governor’s originally proposed budget as delivered in February 2012 and lower than the budget passed by the Legislature. This year’s budget continues the return to fiscal discipline and controlled spending, while focusing on funding critical priorities that speak to the needs of all New Jerseyans. The Fiscal Year 2013 Budget is smaller than both fiscal years 2008 and 2009, while still increasing aid to schools to the highest level of state spending on K-12 education in the state’s history.
Governor Christie said, “The budget the Legislature sent me violated two core priorities of this Administration – it denied tax relief to our hard working, middle-class families while proposing an $800 million tax increase and rejected fiscal responsibility by including millions in new spending that threatened to undo the hard won progress of the last two years. I am unwilling to surrender the gains we have made to establish fiscal responsibility in the state budget by raising taxes on our people at a time when they need and deserve tax relief. The budget I am signing today reverses irresponsible funding decisions, establishes funding levels based on realistic and responsible revenue assumptions, and increases our surplus to a healthy level that paves the way for continued economic growth.”
“The revised budget I signed today would continue to fuel the New Jersey Comeback if it included immediate tax cuts for New Jerseyans. After two hard years of shared sacrifice we’re no longer on the brink of fiscal catastrophe. Because of the tough and difficult choices we’ve made, this year’s budget allows us to make an unprecedented commitment to education, make one of the largest pension payments in our state’s history and fund critical programs that protect our most vulnerable,” said Governor Christie.
Governor Christie put Corzine Democrats on their heels by vetoing $361 million in unnecessary or unsupported spending that threatened to reverse the renewed fiscal health, economic growth and investment of the last two years. In addition to piling on new spending in the budget, Corzine Democrats tried to circumvent the tough choices required to meet a balanced budget by passing additional spending bills outside of the process. As Governor Christie has repeatedly said, spending needs to be accounted for as part of a comprehensive budget plan.
“This spending as usual is just more of the same mentality that plagued the eight years before I became Governor when there was reckless spending and a cycle of raising taxes and fees every 25 days. We cannot go back to the old way of doing things which got us into a fiscal mess in the first place. Corzine Democrats need to realize that they cannot add millions of dollars in spending outside of the budget when every homeowner, student or family faced with financial choices is spending within their budget,” said Governor Christie.
As a result of Governor Christie’s actions, the budget signed into law today maintains a sound, responsible surplus of over $600 million – more than double the Fiscal Year 2013 projected ending fund balance from the Governor’s originally proposed budget and exceeds the levels in the budget as passed by the Legislature. This sound surplus and the fact that the Administration aggressively manages government throughout the year is a signal that the state’s fiscal health is on strong footing.
Jeffery Goldberg’s account in The Atlantic of the Springsteen concert he attended with Governor Chris Christie and his entourage at The Rock is a must read for friends and foe of Christie. Mitt Romney’s vetters and the DGA will be reading it. You might as well.
Christie is having a Town Hall meeting in Brick on Tuesday the 26th, four days before the State’s budget is due or the government shuts down, except for the State Police and the Casino Control Commission.
Bruce is invited but probably won’t show. You are invited too!
The bromance between Governor Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney appears to be on the rocks.
In recent weeks Christie has shifted his rhetoric from slamming the “do nothing” Democratic legislature to singing the praises of Sweeney for compromising with him over “landmark” pension and benefit reforms which Christie declared on national TV was a “model for America.”
The pension and benefit reforms were signed into law last Tuesday during a Christie-Sweeney love fest ceremony at the Wall Memorial in Trenton. That left only two days for the legislature and the Governor to settle on a State budget.
Rather than negotiate with Christie over elements of the budget he had proposed, the Democratic legislature passed their own budget that exceeded the amount of revenue that Christie had certified by $600 million and increased the “millionaires tax” by 20%.
Christie received the Democrats budget on Wednesday evening. His choices were to veteo it outright, conditionally veto it, either of which could have led to a government shut down, or to use his line item veto power to cut specific spending items that the legislature had passed.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the Assembly Republican Budget Officer, said of the Democrats, “they played chicken with the wrong guy.”
Christie made $900 million in line item cuts that have the Democrats squealing like a Ned Beatty in Deliverance.
Sweeney reacted with a profanity laced interview with Tom Moran of The Star Ledger. Sweeney called Christie “a rotten prick” and said he wanted to “punch him in the head.” The Senate President likened the Governor to “Mr. Potter from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,” the mean old bastard who screws everybody.”
Former Senator Richard LaRossa and I will be talking about the budget and the political fallout of the budget this afternoon on our radio show, LaRossa and Gallagher: The Real Jersey Guys on WIFI 1460 AM on your radio dial and here on your computer or smart phone.
As of now we don’t have any guests scheduled for the program. We hope you will call in to the show, 609-447-0236, with your questions and comments about the budget, the Christie-Sweeney tiff or anything else New Jersey you want to talk about.