Governor Jon Corzine Monday signed legislation adopting a $29 billion budget for FY2010 that is $1.8 billion less than the first budget he signed four years ago.
"For over six decades, New Jersey Governors and Legislators have talked about the need to make state government leaner," Governor Corzine said. "But for over six decades, the size and cost have government have continued to grow — until now. The budget I signed is $1.5 billion smaller than the first budget I signed in 2006 and is $4 billion smaller than last year's budget, yet we have expanded my administration's unequaled investment in direct property tax relief for working families — $7 billion in four years. We have proven that government can do more with less."
The bare-bones appropriations act is an unprecedented reduction in the size of State government. Every department, agency and authority was ordered to make cuts. There were more than 850 line items eliminated or reduced - everything from $300 million saved by renegotiating state worker union contracts to cutting up gas cards to consolidating office space and reducing the number of cars in the state motor pool.Scarce resources presented tough choices, but the governor and Democratic lawmakers prioritized funding for education, health care and senior citizens. The budget also provides property tax relief for homeowners, including 1 million who will receive direct relief through rebate checks of as much as $900 per household.
"Today, we can be proud of a budget that honors our commitment to our children, seniors, and the most vulnerable," Governor Corzine said. "It's a budget that protects the working-class taxpayer and one which asks a little more of those who can afford it. This budget reflects an ethic of shared responsibility."
Senator Steve Oroho (R-Morris and Sussex), a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriation Committee, issued the following statement regarding the Fiscal Year 2010 budget:
"Make no mistake - this budget is Jon Corzine's election year Hail Mary pass. This budget pushes off billions of dollars of today's debt and other obligations onto future generations, all to prop up the governor's flagging approval ratings. Next year, it will leave us with estimated $8 billion to $10 billion deficit that the governor hopes to fill with more Washington bailout money and another round of irresponsible gimmicks.
"When the budget is signed today, New Jersey will hit the high tax trifecta: highest property taxes, highest marginal income tax rate and the second highest sales tax in the nation. This is no way to lead what was once the most prosperous state in the nation."
Assembly Republican leader Alex DeCroce (R-Morris and Passaic) commented Monday on the budget:
"With a budget that contains $1.2 billion in new or increased taxes, no rebates for 1.2 million homeowners, and debt that perpetually escalates, Corzine is turning what's left of the middle class in New Jersey into indentured servants," said DeCroce, R-Morris and Passaic. "Instead of providing the property tax relief he promised, Rutgers University tells us the average family will now lose an additional $1,200 because of Corzine's budget.
"Taxpayers' misery started over seven years ago when Democrats took control of the Legislature, and their despair has been more than sustained under this governor," continued DeCroce. "Adding to the pain inflicted by this budget is that future generations will be paying for the inability of Governor Corzine to reduce spending and borrowing."
The Governor thanked Democratic leaders in the Senate and the General Assembly for their efforts in holding public hearings and securing passage of the final spending plan.
"Everyone involved in crafting this year's budget should be commended for the level of civility and cooperation employed in a year that could have easily devolved into chaos," said Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex). "Instead, what we have is a budget that is $4 billion leaner, yet still provides vital services to our residents, and is being signed into law well before our deadline."
"We have always said that we would seek to provide as much property tax relief as possible, and this budget honors that commitment to put property taxpayers first," said Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr. (D-Camden).
"Even with historic cuts, this budget focuses on our core mission as a state - educating our children, improving public health, keeping residents safe and providing vital property tax relief to middle-class families," said Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D-Camden), chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. "As other states continue to make unconscionable cuts to their residents' core values, we continue to strengthen ours."
The Governor earlier signed other budget related measures such as a one-year income tax increase on the top one percent with incomes of $400,000 a year or more and raises taxes on cigarettes, liquor and wine.
— GARRETT MORRISON, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM