TRENTON – As part of his introduction of the Democratic budget, state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36), the Dems’ budget officer, quoted Ronald Reagan to support the earned income tax credit. He tried to sell the majority budget as a bipartisan effort, but Republicans spoke out against it in short order.
The budget, Sarlo said, “restores hope for hundreds of thousands on New Jersey residents.” Along with the return of the earned income tax credit, it restores a senior property tax freeze that was suspended, which Sarlo said broke a promise with constituents who were told their property taxes would be stable. “It put the senior freeze into the deep freeze,” he said. “This budget will thaw that freeze.”
The budget also restores other property tax relief and funding for women’s health and after-school programming.
“It is built on a fiscal basis of honest, real, and attainable revenue,” Sarlo said.
Disagreeing completely, state Sen. Tony Bucco (R-25), the Republican budget officer, said, “It is anything but balanced.”
He said the Democratic budget starts out $300 million short “related to the compromise this majority had with the administration on the pension and benefit reforms.” It also has $365 million in what Republican are calling illegal, unrealistic revenue projections, money, Bucco said, “that does not exist.”
In the background, staffers for both parties were chasing down documentation to support the revenue numbers their side is going with: Democrats with Office of Legislative Services and Republicans with Department of Treasury, a difference of about $300 million that Gov. Chris Christie would have to balance out by eliminating spending as soon as they pass the document.
“The law says it’s not up to this body to determine revenue (estimates),” Bucco said.
Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-21) said he will not be voting for the spending plan.
State Sen. Steve Sweeney (D-3), said the majority drafted a budget in which, “for the first time in history, all of the school districts across the state will be fully funded.”