Corzine’s budget address

The press release from the Governor’s office on Jon Corzine’s budget address:

Governor Jon S. Corzine delivered a $29.8 billion budget to the Legislature today and said that even in these dire financial times his spending plan is based on the administration’s core values of nurturing children, honoring seniors and protecting those who have been hit hardest by the national economic crisis.

The FY2010 budget is $1 billion smaller than the first budget the governor presented four years ago, making him the first New Jersey governor in more than 60 years to reduce state spending over the course of a first term in office.

At the same time, the governor told lawmakers, he has made every effort to reduce the size of government and minimize the tax burden on New Jerseyans. The budget saves nearly $400 million with a proposed wage freeze and furlough of state workers.

“Around kitchen tables, every family knows what it means to make tough choices in these tough times,” Governor Corzine said. “But people also understand the importance of making the right choices. They identify their most important priorities, and they change their spending habits to live within their means. That’s exactly what those of us in this chamber must do in this budget session.”

The budget includes:

  • $4 billion in baseline spending cuts, with more than 850 line items taking a direct hit;
  • $25 million in funding for pre-school expansion and an increase in direct school aid by $300 million for K-12 education;
  • funding for food banks, charity care, and worker retraining.

At the same time, the budget expands the senior property tax freeze and preserves property tax rebates for two-thirds of New Jersey homeowners who qualified last year. This represents over $1 billion in direct property tax relief for 1 million New Jerseyans in the coming year.

The Governor noted that this year’s $29.8 billion budget is about $3 billion less than the budget enacted in June, representing the largest one-year spending cut in State history.

“We must maintain our priorities at the same time that we work to minimize the tax burden on our citizens,” Governor Corzine said. “These priorities and values are the same ones that have guided my Administration since taking office.”

In terms of baseline spending, the budget deals with a $7 billion gap by reducing spending more than $4 billion, using $2 billion in federal recovery act funds and just under $1 billion in revenue solutions that include a one-year only tax increase on the wealthiest one percent of New Jerseyans, those who make more than $500,000 a year.

“We are making the tough choices to do the right thing,” Governor Corzine said.

Other key elements of the FY 2010 budget include:

  • Increased Family Care funding by $193 million and an additional $113 million for Mental Health and Developmental Disability Support;
  • Cuts in the operational costs of state government of more than $380 million;
  • Increased funding for schools and supports and expands early childhood education programs;
  • Near level funding preserved for municipalities, hospitals and higher education;
  • About half of all budget spending for property tax relief.

While the global economic recession has presented substantial challenges for the current budget year, Governor Corzine said, it is an exercise necessary to build a better future.

In October, Governor Corzine announced New Jersey’s Economic Assistance and Recovery Plan during a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature. Working with the Legislature, the Governor’s Plan advanced numerous efforts to stimulate New Jersey’s economy, create jobs, combat hunger, provide home energy assistance, and take proactive initiatives to prevent home foreclosures – all in response to the slumping national economy. The Economic Assistance and Recovery Plan also provided legislation and initiatives for a dramatically improved business climate in New Jersey to provide incentive for businesses to remain in state while enticing others to relocate here.

“We will pull together as a community and a nation and build for a more prosperous tomorrow,” Governor Corzine said. “While the current crisis presents new challenges, it is not unlike others we have dealt with in the past as a state and as a nation. And we can get through these perilous times working together.”

In the past three years, Governor Corzine has gotten rid of gimmicks in the State budget, reduced the overall size of government by almost 7,000 employees and eliminated departments to make government more efficient. The Governor also negotiated with public employee unions and mandated that they contribute to the cost of their health care for the first time, while extending the retirement age to age 62 and capping the pensions of new state workers. These measures allow the state to save $6.6 billion through 2022.

“This budget continues a four year pattern of making tough choices that may not be politically popular today but which put our state on a stronger footing for tomorrow,” Governor Corzine said.

Corzine’s budget address