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Governor’s Race By The Issues

NEW JERSEY 101.5

A look at key issues in the New Jersey governor’s race between Republican incumbent Chris Christie and Democrat Barbara Buono.

Barbara Buono and Chris Christie at first gubernatorial debate at William Paterson University in Wayne
Barbara Buono and Chris Christie during first gubernatorial debate at William Paterson University (WCBS TV)

TAXES

Chris Chrisie with Rutgers cheerleaders during a campaign stop
Chris Chrisie with Rutgers cheerleaders during a campaign stop (Facebook)

Buono supports a higher income-tax rate on the state’s highest earners and restoring funding for the state’s earned income-tax credits for the working poor and increasing property tax credits for lower-income homeowners.

Christie favors a broad-based tax cut that would reduce income taxes for most New Jersey residents in amounts based on their property tax bills. Under a plan he endorsed last year, all but the state’s highest earners would be eligible.

JOBS

Christie’s administration is focusing on using tax incentives approved by the Legislature to lure businesses to the state or keep them. Under Christie, the state has set up a center to help small businesses get help with permits and other regulatory issues.

Buono said she pull back on incentives for big companies and concentrate on education and worker training.

MINIMUM WAGE

Buono supports a referendum that’s also on Tuesday’s ballot to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 and increase it automatically in the future along with the cost of living.

Christie opposes the automatic increases and said the $1 hike at once is too fast and could hurt businesses. He supported a phased-in increase. He also says a ballot measure is the wrong way to set the minimum wage.

State Senator Barbara Buono with Rep. Frank Pallone
State Senator Barbara Buono with Rep. Frank Pallone (Facebook)

GUNS

Christie signed several gun control measures into law this year but vetoed two of the most sweeping and contentious ones passed by the Legislature. One would have banned the sale of .50-caliber rifles. The other, to which he gave a conditional veto, would have linked firearm purchases and law enforcement records into a digital card maintained by the state police, Motor Vehicle Commission, mental health facilities and ammunition retailers.

Buono supports the two measures he vetoed and wants to limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds instead of the current 15, require background checks for most private gun sales and ban online and mail-order ammunition sales.

PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING

Buono wants to fully fund — over time — a 2008 formula for distributing state taxpayer money to local school districts. She also calls for expanding public preschool programs and full-day kindergarten. She opposes a plan that would use taxpayer money to send students in some school districts to private schools.

Christie cut state subsidies for schools in his first year in office but has increased them each year since. He also imposed a 2 percent cap on annual property tax increases. His campaign criticized Buono’s education plans as too costly and said Buono is too closely aligned with the state’s biggest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association. Christie has championed the push for publicly funded scholarships that students could use at private schools.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Christie signed a law to reorganize New Jersey’s public universities, giving Rutgers control of two medical schools with the idea that the state’s flagship university can become a leader in biomedical research, an area important to a state that houses several of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies. He is also overseeing a $1.3 billion program to expand academic facilities at the state’s public and private universities.

Buono says she would work on making the state’s public universities more affordable for students. Two measures include offering tax incentives for parents to save for their children’s college educations and using a formula to distribute state tax money to state universities.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

In October, Christie withdrew the state’s appeal of a judicial ruling that made gay marriage legal in New Jersey. But Christie still says he opposes gay marriage and believes allowing it should be done only through a vote of the people, not a judicial ruling. In 2012, he vetoed a bill that would have made the state recognize same-sex marriage. He support civil unions.

Buono, who has a gay daughter, supports same-sex marriage.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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