Senate passes budget, 22 to 17

TRENTON – Gov. Jon Corzine applauds the state Senate's 22-17 passage of his $29 billion budget, but can't escape sounding a note of disappointment over the GOP's to-a-man dissing of the 2010 document.

"It is unfortunate that not one Republican member of the Legislature saw fit to support a budget that reduces state spending by 12% – an unprecedented downsizing – at the same time it responsibly protects spending on education and provides billions of dollars in much needed property tax relief," the governor says in a release issued moments after the senate passes the budget.

"Even in the midst of this global economic recession, Democratic lawmakers joined me in facing up to the tough decisions and making the right choices," the governor adds.

That bigger than the boundaries of New Jersey theme echoes the Democratic arguments from the floor.

In the lead up to passing the budget, Senate President Richard Codey (D-Roseland)gives an animated defense of the $29 billion state budget and Gov. Jon Corzine, blaming the economic downturn on decisions made in the nation's capital.

"Who allowed Ponzi schemes? Did Jon Corzine? Did the Legislature? No, that was Washington, D.C.,"rails Codey.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-Westfield) grabs a hold of Codey's repetitive line about the blame falling on "Washington D.C." and twists it around on him.

"I am shocked the Senate President would be attacking President Obama in that way," he deadpans, and some Republicans applaud as an antidote to the Democrats' clapping that bucked up Codey.

"People of this state want simple promises kept,"Kean says. "This budget fails in every single regard."

Now Senate Budget Chair Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) rises and speaks for the Democrats.

"The Republicans propose cutting $1.5 million for inmate wages, which would undermine victims' restituion," Buono says.

Moments later, Codey calls for a vote on the state budget, which the senate passes by a vote of 22 to 17. As expected, all Republicans vote against it, while 22 Democrats vote "aye," with only state Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) abstaining, as promised.

Now, later in the evening, the majority again outmuscles the GOPwhen it affirms Gov. Jon Corzine's public employees contract.

In putting up a fight against it, state Sen. Robert Singer (R-Jackson) complains that Corzine wasn't tough enough in making cuts to public employees.

Briefly in threat of being ganged up on by several Republicans(including Singer) in attack mode, the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrenceville) backs off her critics when she points that during the budget debate Republicans complained about unemployment.

To force layfoffs of state workers in these times would simply inflate unployment rolls and place pressures on government services, Turner argues.

Senate passes budget, 22 to 17