Gov. Chris Christie says he's willing to help New Jersey's largest city craft a budget, but he expects Newark to cut spending as part of the deal.

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Christie spoke about Newark and its 2012 city spending plan -- which is now nine months overdue -- during a news conference Tuesday in Flemington

He said that city officials recently asked for the state's help in balancing the budget, and that he's listening. "I don't need New Jersey's largest city in any more financial trouble than it's in already," Christie said.

Christie said he's willing to give a state subsidy in some form, but only if the city finds cuts.

He said his aides have been looking at the city government's books to help, and to understand the depths of Newark's problems.

The Republican governor said he's frustrated about last year, when the state loaned the city $32 million -- and the city ended up having a $18 million surplus. Christie said he doesn't want to repeat that situation this year.

This year, he said, city officials asked for a $24 million boost from the state. Christie said Tuesday that he rejected that request, but that he's hopeful a deal between the state government, the city council and Mayor Cory Booker can be reached soon. "I'm not willing to pay a nickel more than we have to," Christie said.

The situation brings together Christie and Booker, one of several Democrats who's considering running for governor next year. During his news conference Tuesday, Christie said he was not blaming Booker -- or anyone else -- for the city's financial problems.

"What I am saying is that there's a problem. It's October," he said. "And I'm not assigning blame at the moment. I'm trying to fix the problem."

Christie said he met with Booker about the problem last week. "I have a great working relationship with Mayor Booker," he said.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)