Senate commitee to take up budget discussion Wednesday

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will meet Wednesday and Thursday to wrap up final discussion on the 2011 budget and the assembly budget committee will consider the measure Thursday and Friday.

The announcements came hours after a deal was reached between Democratic legislative leaders and Gov. Chris Christie over the $29.4 billion plan that will restore some $180 million in cuts from the budget the governor introduced in March.

Democratic lawmakers as well as state and local employees and teachers have been highly critical of Christie’s budget, which cuts $820 million aid to schools and another $848 from the state’s property tax rebate program.

Among the items restored to the budget as part of the agreement between Christie, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) are funding for Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital and money for Urban Enterprise Zones.

In addition, the deal leaves intact the State Commission of Investigation and leaves in place Bergen County’s so-called blue laws, which prohibit shopping on Sundays.

Both committees will also take up discussion of Sweeney’s proposed 2.9 percent cap on property tax increases.  Sweeney introduced the measure as an alternative to a cap pushed by Christie that would limit increases to 2.5 percent.

Christie’s cap is far more restrictive and would be established as a constitutional amendment, while Sweeney’s would leave some items exempt and would be established by law.


Senate commitee to take up budget discussion Wednesday