Politics are at the center of this year's state budget battle, and Gov. Chris Christie may get a major victory gift-wrapped because of it.

Senate President Sweeney and Governor Christie (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

Democrats are expected to pass a budget plan today, which will include $1 billion in tax hikes.

Christie has promised that those tax hikes are dead on arrival, as he is expected to once again break out the line-item veto pen.

The anticipated process will almost certainly boost Christie's credibility as a fiscal conservative, while also helping his ongoing comeback from Bridgegate.

Democrats, though, are shifting the focus to life after Christie.

Senate President Sweeney is speculated to be a 2017 frontrunner, and he will need organized labor on his side, so tax hikes to fund their pensions is a sensible move for his future.