Senate President Steve Sweeney said today he is disappointed in the governor’s “mean spirited” cuts to the budget passed by the Legislature this week.
Sweeney said that in cutting some $900 million from the budget proposed and passed by Democrats, Gov. Chris Christie was trying to prove that he is in charge and his authority should be unquestioned.
“He was elected governor of this state, not king,” he said.
The Senate president also decried Christie’s absolute veto of the millionaire’s tax, saying the governor was “full of it” when he said 71 percent of the people affected by the millionaire’s tax are small businesses.
“Anyone that makes more than a million – net- is not a small business, not in my book,” he said. “The governor stands with the wealthy, as he has since he got there.”
Sweeney said Christie’s cuts do nothing more than protect the rich at the expense of the poor.
“This isn’t hype, this isn’t politics, this is class warfare,” he said.
Democrats passed their $30.6 billion budget – as well an additional $400 million in education funding – but its future was never really in doubt as Christie as well as the state treasurer had called the budget unconstitutional. Democrats argued that their revenue projections were in line with the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services and would likely be more accurate than the numbers certified by Christie.
In passing the budget, the Democrats used a revenue figure $300 million higher than had been certified by the governor earlier in the week. Once passed, the only question was whether Christie would choose the line item veto or a more drastic conditional or absolute veto.
Sweeney said he had worked hard to present a bipartisan front with the governor, but said Christie’s cuts would make working with him in the future much harder.
“This makes it a hell of a lot harder to work with someone that is this cold and cruel,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney said he was in the dark about the governor’s plans until the last minute and criticized Christie for not giving the Democratic leadership a briefing prior to announcing the veto. He promised that the Democrats would fight the cuts though the party does not have the votes neccessary to override the line item veto.