Chris Christie Calls For Special Session Today [POLL/AUDIO]
In calling for a special session of the legislature to be convened today, Governor Chris Christie wrote to State Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, "Cutting taxes is a choice that has been debated in the homes, businesses, schools and streets of our state. It is time for that debate to reach the greater Chamber of the Legislature, where words can become action in Trenton…"
In his Budget Address, Christie proposed a 10% income tax cut for everybody to be phased in with the first phase of the reduction being enacted in January 2013. Senate President Steve Sweeney countered with a 10% property tax cut using the Governor projected revenue figures. Assembly Democrats pushed for a 20% property tax cut, funded through a millionaires' tax hike.
The legislature passed the millionaires' tax increase, but Christie has vetoed it in each of the last two years and promises to do it again this year. The Governor signed the $31.7 billion State Budget Friday. The spending plan did not include enabling legislation for a tax cut, but Democrats set aside $183 million for the cut to be enacted in January if revenue match Christie's estimates.
Also in his letter to Sweeney and Oliver, Christie wrote, "That budget, which contained billions of dollars in spending, failed to address the single issue that strikes at the heart of our shared interests, and our continued prosperity. Lowering the tax burden imposed on every New Jersey resident is a matter of unique and critical public interest that demands our immediate and full attention."
Christie is scheduled to address the full legislature today and make his argument for a tax cut. Asked if the Governor's speech will have any impact, Sweeney says, "No. For one reason; we've already done the work that he's asking us to do. We've already provided the money for a tax cut….There's really nothing to be gained. We've put the money in surplus and we have an agreement between the Senate and Assembly on a tax cut plan."
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean says, "The Democratic leadership in Trenton reneged on their promise to work with us on tax relief for the most highly taxed people in America: New Jersey residents. Instead, they spent the entire budget process trying to gain political advantage on the Governor. Families and small businesses deserve certainty that their tax burden will be reduced, not a "maybe" from the same politicians that raised them 115 times in the last ten years. Republicans will be in Trenton Monday ready to work."
Sweeney says, "If he (Christie) was honest with the people in this state he'd be saying, 'Look, the money is there. The tax cut is going to come. I'm confident in my numbers."
Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick stands firmly behind Governor Christie's decision.
"Taxpayers don't take the summer off from work and now is no time for the Legislature to rest either. The Assembly Republicans will be in Trenton on Monday and we are eager to pass a tax cut that will provide relief for New Jersey families. I hope the Assembly Democrats will agree with Governor Christie that the Legislature should not take a vacation until we cut taxes this year. Governor Christie knows we have unfinished business that needs to be addressed now. This is another example of why he is an effective leader," said Bramnick.
The press release put out by Christie's team Saturday announcing today's special begins by saying, "Determined to reverse the path chosen by Democrats in the legislature to impose an $800 million tax hike on New Jersey residents, while holding middle-class tax relief hostage, Governor Chris Christie today called for a special session of the state legislature Monday."
Sweeney expects to listen to Christie's address and then simply go home. He says, "Since whatever we pass right now wouldn't take effect until next year, what's he worried about?"