Chris Christie Threatens Vetoes, Democratic Leader Responds [POLL/AUDIO]
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is promising to use his red pen to line-item veto much, if not all of the spending added by Democrats in the budget and related bills which passed the full legislature Monday.
He's also threatening to force lawmakers to work through the summer until they give him the guarantee of a tax cut that he's been demanding since February. Assembly Democratic Leader Lou Greenwald says he's not fazed at all.
Whether it's funding for women's health and family planning services, cash for nursing homes, a tax credit for the working poor or a bill to return energy receipts tax revenue back to mayors, if it's a Democratic add-on it is potentially on the chopping block as Christie readies the veto pen he's promising to use.
"He did that (threaten and follow through on vetoes) last year and he ultimately caved in on those and restored a lot of those fundings," says Greenwald. "I think it was a temper tantrum last year. I think it'll be a temper tantrum this year. While he line-itemed (last year) he also immediately felt the backlash of the community….What did he do? He went in behind the scenes and put a lot of those revenues back in."
In his State of the State Address and again in his budget message to the legislature Christie proposed a 10% State income tax cut for everybody. Feeling that idea favored the rich, Senate Democrats, led by Senate President Steve Sweeney countered with a 10% property tax cut proposal and Assembly Democrats offered up a 20% property tax reduction plan, half of which would be funded with revenue from a millionaires tax increase.
Earlier this month Christie seemed to compromise and embrace Sweeney's plan. He said, "We want to cut your taxes this year and we want you to get a 10% credit on your income tax towards your property taxes. That's what the Senate President's plan is. I've wanted to cut taxes across the board for the income tax. There's an area for us to compromise there I suspect and you know the senate President and I have compromised on a lot of things over the last two and a half years."
In advance of the full legislature's vote on a budget bill Monday that doesn't include an immediate tax cut, Christie went on the offensive. He said to a crowd at a town hall meeting, "They (Democrats) were talking about tax cuts all spring…….Silly me, silly me, I actually bought it. I believed it. I said, 'Well, we're going to figure it out. We'll work it out the way we've compromised on a bunch of other things. We'll work it out. We'll get you tax relief…..They fooled me for the last couple of months, but they're not fooling me and they're not fooling you again. You know what's going to happen. In January there will be the next excuse."
The Governor says when he takes action on the budget bill he has a feeling his red veto pen will run out of ink by the time he's done deleting spending items added by the Democrats.
Christie has a warning for Democrats. He says, "I was willing to meet them half way, but if they want a fight they're going to get one and they're going to get one all, long, hot summer until they cut your taxes."
Greenwald responds, "I'm not going anywhere. We're here anyway. The reality is we've got a lot of work to do to restore this state to its economic success."
Typically the full legislature breaks for the summer before returning in September.