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Assembly GOP blasts Dems’ budget plan [AUDIO]

With Democrats in the state Assembly and Senate recently unveiling alternative budget proposals, both of which hike taxes on New Jersey’s wealthiest residents, Assembly Republicans held a State House press conference Monday to blast those plans.

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Assembly Chamber at the Statehouse
Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images

The Democrats’ plans differ a bit, but leaders in both houses are working in unison to produce a solid budget — one that includes tax increases.

“No more taxes, no new taxes,” said Assembly GOP leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield). “They’re raising the price of living in New Jersey, which is counterintuitive to what rational, common-sense people would do.”

Assembly Republicans are calling for a state constitutional amendment to give lawmakers more of a say in how schools are funded. Bramnick said that could help the state balance future budgets. The amendment would have to be approved by voters.

The state’s highest income tax rate is 8.97 percent. Under the Senate Democrats’ plan, the tax on those making $1 million or more per year would rise to 10.75 percent and generate $565 million in new revenue. The new rate for those making between $500,000 and $1 million would be 10.25 percent and generate $155 million. Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) said he is willing to allow the tax hikes to sunset if more jobs are created and the state’s economy rebounds. He said is not worried that the wealthy will flee the state, because it’s the middle class that truly is struggling.

“How can you be the highest-taxed state in the region and then raise taxes?” Bramnick asked. “I don’t get it. It’s a bad plan.”

A spokesman for the Assembly Democrats issued a scathing response shortly after the Assembly Republicans wrapped up their press event.

The Republicans made clear today why they continue to be the minority party — they’re bereft of ideas, favor the wealthy over the middle class and offer nothing more than knee-jerk criticisms instead of honest discussion,” said spokesman Tom Hester, Jr. in an emailed statement. “Democrats are offering a fiscally responsible plan that meets the needs of New Jersey’s working class and fulfills our obligations, while the Republicans continue to support Gov. Christie’s failed fiscal policies that have led to painful property tax hikes, credit downgrades and massive deficits. Middle class New Jerseyans are smart enough to know the Republicans offer no real solutions.”

On Wednesday, a New Jersey court will hear arguments in a lawsuit seeking to stop Christie from slashing the current fiscal year’s pension payment. The state was supposed to contribute $1.6 billion, but Christie now plans to pay in $696 million. If the court rules against the governor, it would knock this year’s budget out of balance and have the ripple effect of impacting the budget that begins July 1.

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