The full State legislature has approved the Democrat-sponsored $31.741 billion State Budget today. The State Senate approved the spending plan early this afternoon and the Assembly passed it just before 8pm. The budget does not include the guaranteed tax cut that Governor Chris Christie has been demanding since February.

Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo sponsors the budget bill. He says, “This is a smart, responsible budget that reflects economic conditions. It doesn’t achieve all that we would want, but it accomplishes what we can afford. It meets the state’s most important needs and it advances Democratic priorities without putting the state at risk of an economic crisis during the year ahead.”

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The budget spends $62 million less than the Governor’s revised proposal and sets aside $183 million more in the surplus for a to-be-determined tax cut that would be enacted in January only if revenues match Christie’s estimates.

The plan restores the cut to the Earned Income Tax Credit with $50 million. By returning the EITC from a 20 percent credit to 25 percent providing a tax cut for the working poor. The budget also includes an additional $25 million for nursing homes.

Sarlo says, “I do possess a serious concern about the budget. It is based on the governor’s revenue predictions of a 7.2 percent increase, one of the highest in the country and almost twice as high as most other states.”

Senate Republican Budget Officer Tony Bucco says, “The voters have resounding rejected the "government first, taxpayers second" economic policy: the one under which New Jersey's government grew exponentially while the private sector shrunk. They don't want higher taxes, and they don't even want the status quo. They want us to cut taxes.”

“No sooner had the Governor introduced his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year than the Democrats began attacking his revenue projections,” Republican Joe Pennacchio, a member of the Senate budget panel. “We now know those protests to be empty, hollow arguments because those very same Democrats kept the Governor's projections in their own budget bill so they could spend all the money- with the exception of funds earmarked for a tax cut. We are being told this budget has put aside $180 million for the tax cut "just in case", but there is no tax cut as of today in this budget. The taxpayers are being asked to wait and see.”

In the Lower House, Democratic Assembly Budget Committee chairman, Vinnie Prieto says, “In this budget, we’re restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit. The Earned Income Tax Credit is for the people that make very little money in the State of New Jersey and they actually get money back instead of having to pay, you know, taxes.  It was cut out two years ago and it was reduced to 20 percent. We’re bringing it up to full 25 percent and it’s real relief to this working class of the State of New Jersey that needs relief today.”

The GOP doesn't share the same sentiments. “The Governor’s budget proposal was a slam dunk with relief for all taxpayers, yet Corzine Democrats jumped up at the last minute to block that relief,” says Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon. “Time and time again, Corzine Democrats find it incredibly easy to raise taxes, yet stubbornly slow to deliver relief."