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NJ Budget Hearings Are Important, Says Assembly Budget Panel Boss [AUDIO]

While Governor Chris Christie may think the legislature’s budget committee hearings are pretty much a waste of time, the chairman of the Assembly budget panel doesn’t see things that way.

Stacy Proebstle, Townsquare Media

Lawmakers in Trenton are continuing to hold a series of hearings on Governor Christie’s proposed fiscal year 2013 budget.

Last week, Christie said, “They’re now having hearings, which generally doesn’t accomplish much – and then when the hearings are over he’ll sit down with Assembly and State Senate leaders and start talking…it is always my preference to negotiate a budget with the Legislature – and I would much rather negotiate a budget that we can agree on and get bipartisan support for- as we did in our first year – than to do it as we did it in our second year- where the Legislature passes a Democratic-only budget and then I use the line item veto pen to bring it to fiscal sanity.”

Assembly Budget Committee chief Vinnie Prieto says his panel’s hearings mean a lot. He explains, “They are important because the budget affects everyone’s life and their bottom line which is how they can get food on the table and a roof over their head.”

Prieto says his committee has been combing through the budgets of every single state department trying to find every single dollar that may be available to address the state’s number-one issue. “They send us here to the State House to help the residents of the State of New Jersey and their call is for property tax relief……We’re looking under every rock to make sure we deliver what we set out to do.”

“I’m really hopeful that we’ll be able to negotiate a budget this year,” says Christie. “Those negotiations will really start after the hearings are over.”

Christie says, “One way or the other, we’ll get a budget done – either they’ll pass a budget that I’ll use my line item veto pen on, or we’ll agree on a budget together that has bipartisan support…one way or the other it will happen – it will happen by June 30th, cause nobody wants to close the government down, that’s a useless exercise.”

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