Assembly committee approves Democratic budget

TRENTON – With party lines showing, the Democrats on the Assembly Budget Committee approved their budget as the Republicans gathered in opposition.

The majority’s budget doesn’t include the millionaire’s tax, which is a separate bill being heard by the committee today.

Christie’s budget, Democrats said, was proposed before the Supreme Court ordered the state to make $500 million available to designated schools in need.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-3) said the Abbott ruling “can’t be ignored,” and that the Democrats tried to stay close to the governor’s number. “This is not a return to any kind of freewheeling spending,” he said.

Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, sponsor of the budget bill, said, “There are no new taxes in this budget.” Greenwald compared the lack of public outcry against the Democratic budget to Christie’s budget last year, “with the long lines of people who said, ‘The pain is too great, we cannot take it anymore.’…The governor’s budget policies are failing in this state.”

Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) voted against the budget because spending is increasing. “I thought we had turned a corner in this state,” he said.

In her last budget hearing before retiring, Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (D-32), spoke emotionally about the budget.

“I agree with Assemblyman Webber that this is déjà vu all over again,” she said. “Back in the business of helping people again.”

She said she never hears people worrying about the size of government; she hears, “My kids are hungry, my spouse is out of work, my sister is sick, I’m afraid to go out of my house at night.”

“This is my last budget,” she said with a tear in her eye. “You sent me down here to help.”

This budget helps as much as we can afford right now.”

Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-35) said the difference between Christie’s budget and the Democrats budget is $1.18 billion, which amounts to $500 million mandated by the court for mostly urban schools and another $500 million for suburban schools.

Greenwald shamed Republicans who voted against the bill after he and other Democrats joined with the GOP to pass pension and benefits reform last week.

He “stepped outside the box of the Democratic norm,” Greenwald said, and hoped that “the same courage would be presented by the Republican party” on the budget. He asked the Republicans to admit that “the millionaire’s tax cut has not worked.”

Assembly committee approves Democratic budget