State Democrats present $34.8 billion budget for 2017
Democrats who control the New Jersey Legislature have unveiled a $34.8 billion budget proposal, just $300 million over what Republican Gov. Chris Christie is calling for in 2017.
The Assembly Budget Committee approved the plan Thursday. The Senate is set to also consider the measure.
It's the start of a weeklong sprint to the end of this fiscal year, June 30, when the state is required to have a balanced budget in place for the next fiscal year.
"This budget makes clear that we will not waver from our support for New Jersey's working class," Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said.
Among the changes are an increase of $45 million for a property tax program that benefits older residents and $25 million for charity care.
The lawmakers are also including $4 million more for legislative operations, which are not spelled out in their proposal.
Unlike in previous years, the budget legislation does not include a tax on income over $1 million, which legislators proposed previously to help pay for the state's public pension payment.
Christie is in an advantageous position because in New Jersey, the governor has a line-item veto that allows him to slash increased spending provisions in the proposal.
Christie's 2017 budget has sparked less contention than plans in previous years, but Democrats took issue with the governor's calls for cuts to pensioners' health benefits.
Democrats are not requiring those cuts in their plan, only saying the costs may be reviewed.
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)