Governor Chris Christie has signed the budget into law, following hours-long sessions in both houses of the legislature Monday.
At a ceremony in South River, Christie put his signature to the plan that cuts $4 billion in spending but saddles school districts and municipalities with massive cuts in aid. The budget, which does not raise income taxes, is the first of Christie’s gubernatorial tenure.
“I am proud that after working with the Legislature we were able to fulfill our commitment to New Jerseyans not to raise taxes, while still closing an unprecedented $11 billion budget gap and protecting our most vulnerable citizens,” Christie said in an early Tuesday morning statement after the budget had been passed by both houses. “This budget deals responsibly with the fiscal nightmare we inherited and makes the tough and necessary choices to restore fiscal sanity to our state and begin fundamental reform.”
The budget cleared the legislature with help from Democratic lawmakers who agreed to give the governor the votes he needed, but vowed to make Republicans own every cut. Eight Democrats voted “aye” in the assembly, while four Democratic senators cast yes votes.
Democrats wasted no time in attacking the budget and renewing Monday’s claims that Christie was raising taxes despite the governor’s claims to the contrary. Even lawmakers who voted in favor of the plan, such as Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan (D-Union Twp.) took shots Tuesday.
“It took Gov. Christie only minutes to give millionaires a tax cut in May. At least he waited a few more hours before signing this budget that increases taxes on everyone else in New Jersey,” Cryan said in a statement sent minutes after the signing ceremony. “This signature marks the beginning of a painful year for working class New Jerseyans who are about to get taxed repeatedly and heavily by Gov. Christie.”
The two sides of the aisle repeated the taxes versus fees argument several times Monday with democrats trying to paint all of the budget’s cuts, caps and revenue generators as taxes and Republicans arguing that no broad based taxes were raised as a result of the plan.
Christie has already called a special session of the legislature for later this week, hoping to force a vote on his proposed 2.5 percent cap on property taxes. Democrats have already said they will not vote on the measure, which requires approval by July 7 in order for the constitutionally enacted cap to appear on the November ballot.