By CHASE BRUSH
TRENTON – Their counterparts in the Senate having wrapped up hours earlier, debate over the state budget in the Assembly continued into the afternoon prior to its passage.
“This is not a great budget, but it is a necessary budget,” Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36) said during a passionate plea on the floor. He urged the state to remember its obligations, adding that the Democrats “take no pleasure in additional new taxes.”
“Because of underestimation of revenue, this budget is now in fact 2.3 billion dollars in the red,” said Schaer, who chairs the Budget Committee in the Assembly. “By not meeting the responsibility of this state, we’re going to pass it along, we’re going to kick the ball down the road.”
Schaer called the differences between the Republican and Democrats’ budgets “cosmetic.”
Assemblyman Tony Bucco (R-25), for his part, echoed the sentiments expressed by his fellow party members in the Senate, who argued tax hikes in the proposed budget may force the state’s wealthiest elsewhere.
“Today’s budget sends the wrong messages to those who live and do business in our state,” he said, adding later that “The most important relief the taxpayers can count on today is that the governor has ink in his red pen and he’s ready to use it.”
Assemblywoman Donna Simon (R-16) agreed.
She questioned allocations to the state’s education system, where she says “duplicative layers of administrators” are eating up useful funding.
“Why aren’t we talking about that?” she asked.
“It feels like groundhog day,” she added just before the bill was voted out of the Assembly.