The State Senate Budget Committee has approved a nearly $33 billion budget bill today. The Assembly budget panel is scheduled to give the measure the green light later today and it is full-steam ahead for a vote in both full houses this coming Monday afternoon.

(Tim Larsen, Governor's Office)

The spending plan includes more money cancer research, county colleges, nursing homes and the university merger, but defers property tax rebates for eligible residents for three months, does not fund women's health clinics and does not restore a tax credit for the working poor.

“This is not a budget that anybody should be excited about,” says Senate budget panel chairman Paul Sarlo. “It’s a balanced budget. It’s a negotiated budget [...] There’s still a long way to go to our road to recovery here to structurally solve some of our problems.”

The ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee thinks the spending plan bill is responsible if not perfect.

“This budget is a positive sign that Democrats in this legislature are now all on board with New Jersey’s economic turnaround led by the Christie administration, which has revenues and private sector job gains growing each month,” says Sen. Tony Bucco. “It’s unfortunate the budget lacks a much-needed tax cut and an opportunity scholarship program, but it proves that together we can position this state for economic growth instead of growth in government.”

Two members of the Senate budget panel, Sens. Loretta Weinberg and Nellie Pou voted no because the budget contains no money to expand preschool or fund women's health clinics. The negotiated budget is similar to the one Gov. Chris Christie proposed in February.

“This budget makes the best use of available resources by meeting the state’s priorities, but it does it in a responsible way,” says Sarlo. “It doesn’t achieve everything we would want to do if we had a stronger economy, but it accomplishes what is within reach of the state’s finances.”