Assembly panel passes $35.3B Democratic budget proposal
TRENTON (AP) — A Democratic budget that includes tax hikes but also makes a nearly $3 billion public pension payment is now headed for a vote before the full Legislature.
But if it reaches his desk, Gov. Chris Christie is expected to use his line-item veto to remove the more than $1 billion in tax increases and replace the pension payment with a $1.3 billion cash infusion.
“Every time there's a hard choice to make in this state, the majority party just raises taxes and they call that a hard choice,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Parsippany).
The Senate and Assembly budget committees both approved the $35.3 billion spending blueprint Tuesday along party lines.
“Some of the steps we have to take this year are honestly not popular and distasteful, but obligations have to be met,” said Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Thorofare).
Republicans question the Democrats' efforts because similar proposals last year were vetoed. Democrats say they are living up to an obligation created in a 2011 law laying out pension payment requirements.
“None of us is excited, pleased, happy or in any way gratified to be voting for more taxes in a state where I think we all would concur we're already being overtaxed," said Assembly Budget Committee chairman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic). "The question, of course, becomes: How does one pay one's bills?”
A floor vote is expected in both chambers on Thursday. A new budget is required by July 1.
Kevin McArdle contributed to this report.
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