Christie vetoes Democrats’ tax hike [AUDIO/VIDEO]
As he vowed to do, Gov. Chris Christie signed a balanced $32.5 billion state budget into law Monday, but not before he cut two tax increases Democrats inserted to generate revenue to fully fund their year's public employees' pension fund payment.
The governor said the budget is responsible. Disappointed Democrats claimed Christie is favoring the rich over the working class.
"The legislature's budget, if enacted, would accomplish nothing more than to repeat the failed, irresponsible and unsustainable policies that were commonplace in Trenton for years before my administration," Christie wrote in objecting to the tax increase proposals.
Democrats sent a pair of tax increase bills to the governor's desk totaling roughly $1 billion. One called for a three-year income tax hike on New Jersey residents earning more than $1 million annually. The other measure would have imposed a one-year, 15 percent surcharge on Corporation Business Taxes.
"It's disappointing that he took that (millionaires' tax hike) and he actually choose to, instead of the working class taxpayers of the state of New Jersey to protect millionaires," said Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus).
The speaker is also upset that Christie did not agree to the CBT surcharge. He said that could cost the state in the long run. If New Jersey's credit rating is lowered as a result, it would cost more for the state to borrow. Prieto said attempting to override Christie's vetoes is an option, even if it's not likely to work out.
"That's something we always think about, but as time has proven every time we try to override a veto we have not been successful. We'll think about it (and) see if that would be a course of action. It's always there. We'll see if that would be something we want to go to," Prieto said.
The governor had originally hoped to make a pension payment of $2.25 billion, but citing fiscal restraints has since decided to reduce it to $681 million. The top Democrat in the Upper House was not happy about Christie's budget actions.
"Democrats presented a budget to the governor that met our obligations while not placing the burden on working people," said State Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) in a statement. "Our budget was a fiscally responsible plan that would have honored the state's commitments and increased funding for critical services. It was the right thing to do for all New Jerseyans."
Public sector union leaders have said they are likely to sue Christie again over the pension payments. They tried unsuccessfully to prevent him from slashing this year's payment by almost $900 million, but in her ruling the judge left the door open to hearing the case again and possibly deciding in a different way.
According to Prieto there is some good news. He cited the fact that increased funding for cancer research, domestic violence and rape crisis programs, nursing homes, Equal Opportunity Funding and vocational education are still included in the Budget. Those items were identified as Assembly Democratic priorities.
Watch members of the NJ Democratic Assembly Budget Committee respond to Christie's budget vetoes.