One in six New Jerseyans will be adversely affected by line-item vetoes of two critical programs in the budget Governor Christie signed last week.
Today (Monday), the state Senate is expected to vote on restoring funding for those programs – the state Earned Income Tax Credit and NJ Family Care. Doing so, however, will require bipartisan support in order to achieve two-thirds majority.
The governor’s vetoes represented unprecedented cutbacks in state services and will affect more than 1.5 million residents, mostly low-income working families with children. Without these supports many parents will be unable to continue to work in low and moderate wage jobs that support their children in a state with one of the highest costs of living in the nation.
Last week the Legislature passed a state budget that fully funded these program. However the governor of New Jersey has considerably more power than governors in many states and has the discretion to delete any funds proposed for specific programs – or any “line item” in the budget. The only way that those funds can be restored is for the Legislature to vote to overturn each veto with a two-thirds vote.
When voting on each line-item, it will be important that legislators know what the impact is on people in their districts. New Jersey Policy Perspective has created an analysis to show the number of people, county by county, who will be affected by these two line item vetos, which were among dozens of vetoes by the governor.
Budgets reflect a state’s priorities. The public does not always know where individual legislators stand on those priorities because the budget is usually voted on in its entirety. That will all change today, and we hope that each lawmaker, regardless of party, recognizes just how devastating these cuts can be to wide numbers of New Jerseyans.
Raymond J. Castro is the Senior Policy Analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective.