Governor Christie Says Budget Plan Restores Fiscal Sanity [VIDEO/AUDIO/POLL]
Governor Chris Christie has presented a $32.9 billion State Budget proposal. He says it maintains the fiscal discipline needed to restore New Jersey, is balanced and imposes no tax increases.
Christie insists his spending plan funds the key initiatives necessary to rebuild the state and restore prospects for future growth. It also provides a record amount of funding for our schools.
The Governor also used his budget speech as a vehicle to blast his predecessors.
"Those who were supposed to be responsible for controlling taxes and spending before we came to office fundamentally deceived the people of our state," says Christie. "They said yes to everything - yes to higher taxes. Yes to more spending. We must not return to that era of recklessness and deceit."
A major focus of the address was the need to recover and rebuild from Superstorm Sandy. Christie says the state's economy has been challenged by Sandy. He applauded lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for standing together while recovering, rebuilding and restoring.
"The shore will come back," says Christie. "As I've said, it will come back stronger than ever. And I will tell you this: I expect to go the Jersey Shore every summer for the rest of my life, including this summer of 2013."
No Tax Cuts Proposals
Christie says he will not shut down the budget process to continue an argument over the 10-percent income tax cut he proposed last year. He insists the people's business and the least fortunate citizens' needs are too vitally important in the aftermath of Sandy. The Governor did take aim at Democrats on the tax cut issue.
"It is clear to me that on this subject we simply disagree," explains Christie. "I believe New Jerseyans are overtaxed. Many of you in this chamber repeatedly vote for tax increases. So, let me be direct with you - I have compromised and offered your plan for tax cuts, but, if you change your mind and concur with my conditional veto, my Administration will figure out how to pay for this long overdue tax relief. If you do not, I am content to let the voters decide this in November."
For the third year in a row, the Governor is increasing state aid to New Jersey's schools.
"This budget provides an increase of $87 million for school aid, bringing total state aid to education to almost $9 billion - an all-time record, for the second year in a row," says Christie. "With this budget, 378 school districts will see funding increases and no district in New Jersey will experience a decline in K-12 formula school aid for Fiscal Year 2014."
Sin Of Omission?
Lawmakers and the press were briefed on the budget speech hours before it was given. We were told that Christie plans to delay property tax rebates from May until August. He closes a roughly $400 million deficit by pushing back the rebates from the current Fiscal Year to the next Fiscal year. The Governor did talk about how important property tax relief is, but he neglected to mention his rebate plan in his address.
Christie Blasts Politicians
The Governor is again asking the Democrat-controlled legislature in Trenton to take action on his proposal to prevent towns and counties from imposing user fees to blow through the 2% Property Tax Cap.
"Why not close this loophole? What are you waiting for?" asks Christie. "It is also time to finish the job with the property tax tool kit that will help municipal governments keep property taxes down in the long run."
Lawmakers in Washington didn't get a pass from the New Jersey Governor either. Some call his criticism of Congress an opening salvo in his 2016 bid for President.
"Their failure to take on the nation's budget challenges and address the unsustainability of the nation's long-term liabilities is nothing short of inexcusable," insists Christie. "It's past time for Washington to get its act together. That will take two things: Bipartisanship and leadership. Unfortunately, both are missing today."
Christie's Pep Talk
The Governor closed out his address by urging bi-partisanship, boldness and hard work.
"Let's work on a bipartisan basis and let's get to work for the people who gave us these jobs in the first place," said Christie. "We have weathered the worst storm in our state's history with bold leadership, decisive action and bipartisan cooperation. The sky ahead is limitless if we just have the courage to stay the course."
Courtesy Governor's Office