In line-item effort, Christie turns back Dem demands on his power and time in addition to money

TRENTON – In their budget submitted this week to Gov. Chris Christie, Democrats tried to stem his power, put checks on his ability to spend and place time strictures on his administration, which the governor resisted and later described as a good job by legislative bureaucrats, but not good enough for his people to out-manuever. 

He made the obvious cuts on his way to excising $900 million from the Democrats’ $30.6 billion budget, while juggling language to give himself greater financial leverage. Christie lowered the amount that the Turnpike would give the General Fund from $76 million to $66 million, for example, (a cut of $10 million from Local Infrastructure Aid) and instead moved that $10 million over to NJ Transit. He also eliminated a $100 million cap on what NJ Transit would get from the Turnpike, leaving open their allocation.  

In their proposed budget, which Christie would cut by $900 million, Democrats tried to reinstate a $7 million cap on grants to non-profit housing organizations and authorities for Affordable Housing programs, which the governor eliminated.  

They tried to require that the unexpended balance at the end of the preceding fiscal year in the Shelter Assistance account be appropriated for the expenses of the Shelter Assistance program. The governor eliminated their language.

They wanted any receipts in excess of the amount anticipated in the Affordable Housing program to be specifically appropriated for affordable housing expenses.  

Eliminated.  

Democratic lawmakers added language to require that by Jan. 1, 2012, the treasurer prepare and submit a report to the respective House budget chairs detailing the impact of performance-based and zero-based budgeting on the FY 2012 budget and detailing major changes that were incorporated into the budget as a result.  

The governor line-itemed that.  

The governor eliminated $1 million for Transit Village Planning Grants.

He quashed Democrats’ efforts requiring his Department of Corrections commissioner to detail – by Sept. 1 of this year – the number of inmates enrolled in GED programs. Another Democrat demand would have required the commissioner to itemize the number of inmates enrolled in drug treatment programs and the number of inmates with substance abuse issues that are unable to obtain drug treatment services. 

Gone.

After his Florida faux pas, Christie joked that there was no way he would leave the Democrats’ $10 million snow removal cap in the budget.  

He removed the cap.   

In their budget, the Democrats included language allowing unexpended Work First NJ Child Care funds to be used to reimburse Head Start for services to at-risk kids, which the governor eliminated.  

He also cut language related to human services allowing state funding as necessay to reimburse centers for services to uninsured clients.  

Democrats wanted to require hospitals to continue to document charity care; require reports on charity care, GME and Hospital Relief Subsidy Fund that detail the effect, by hospital, of the Governor’s proposed FY 2013 budget compared to the effect of statutory formulas. The Hospital Relief Subsidy Fund report would also include data, by hospital, on cases treated under the old HRSF cases and the new HRSF cases.  

Christie eliminated all of that language.  

The Democrats specified in their budget that the Comprehensive Medicaid Waiver could not include: 1) any decrease in financial eligibility criteria or provider reimbursement rates; 2) Any limits on amount, duration or scope of service; and/or 3) Any new or increased co-payments. In addition, as part of the process, the state would be prohibited from agreeing to a cap on Medicaid expenditures or federal reimbursement.   The governor modified that language to produce the opposite effect, requiring the Departments to submit a waiver that includes restrictions that reduce financial eligibility criteria, impose new or increased co-payments and limit the amount, duration or scope of services. 

He eliminated language requiring him to propose a charity care formula. They wanted to require him to make pension payments by July 15 – to no avail.  

Democrats tried to eliminate mileage reimbursement for “unclassified, unaligned employees,” an item Christie slashed.  

They tried to achieve more oversight by requiring that within10 days of the receipt of any monetary donations to the state or state agencies, the Joint Budget Oversight Committee be notified of the donation, including the name of the donor, the amount of the donation, the intended use of the donation and any specific limits or criteria imposed by the donor on the use of the funds. The Joint Budget Oversight Committee also would have to be notified once 50% of the monetary donation is expended or committed and to the specific expenditures or commitments for the donation.  

The Democrats also stipulated that a final accounting must be provided to the Joint Budget Oversight Committee within 30 days of the end of the fiscal year.  

That got the ax.  

So did language allowing the state Department of Education, by application, to provide funding for HeadStart programs to reimburse them for services to at-risk children in non-Abbott schools.

In line-item effort, Christie turns back Dem demands on his power and time in addition to money