How Will Sequester Cuts Impact Chris Christie’s Budget? [AUDIO]
Automatic spending cuts will kick in this Friday if lawmakers in Washington can't reach a deal. If the sequester does become a reality, New Jersey could get less federal Sandy relief aid than originally anticipated.
Without knowing for sure how much the Garden State will really receive from Washington, Governor Chris Christie will still have to deliver his State Budget Address this afternoon.
"The Governor will not say, I don't believe he's going to say we have the answer 100-percent yet," said Declan O'Scanlon, the ranking Republican on the Assembly Budget Committee. "We can't. We're dealing with this as we go."
Congress recently approved $60 billion in federal Sandy relief aid for New Jersey and New York. Some of that money is already being doled out, but if the spending cuts kick in the aid could shrink by 9 percent. That would hurt the already cash-strapped Garden State.
"It's going to be interesting to see how Sandy relief nets out as far its impact on our state budget and our state economy," said O'Scanlon. "Are we going to have enough money to do everything, to make people completely whole? I don't know yet. We may not."
Sequestration would hurt New Jersey in more ways than diminished Sandy aid. The state could also see cuts in education, health programs, funding for the environment, law enforcement and more.
With the March 1st deadline for $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) is warning of the devastating impact sequestration will have on Sandy recovery efforts. In total, the sequester mandates across-the-board cuts of almost $1 trillion over nine years, 50-percent from defense and 50-percent from non-defense spending.
"Sequestration would be nothing short of a fiscal hurricane for the victims that have already been devastated by Sandy," said Pascrell. "If Congress does not step in with a plan to avert these cuts, about $3 billion will be slashed from the Sandy aid bill we fought so hard to pass last month. This manufactured fiscal disaster will add insult to injury to the many families and businesses that are still hurting across the region."