$29 Billion State Budget’s Passage Is No Victory For Corzine

TRENTON – New Jersey’s $29 billion fiscal 2010 budget passed last month despite opposition from Republicans. The vote wasn’t the victory Gov. Jon Corzine was hoping for. The Democratic governor saw his disapproval rating climb to 60 percent an all-time high, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted after the budget was approved.

The budget contains a number of unpopular tax increases and eliminates property tax rebates for many New Jersey residents, but it should have curtailed more government spending instead, according to some Republicans.


“Before Governor Corzine told the public he was eliminating this fall’s property tax rebate checks, he repeatedly said he scrubbed his budget and went line by line looking for places to trim, but we were able to find nearly $800 million in wasteful spending that he missed,” said Assemblywoman Denise Coyle, R-Somerset and Morris.

Assembly Republicans proposed $780 million in budget cuts including the elimination of two-thirds of political appointees, reducing the number of state-issued cell phones, wireless devices and vehicles, and eliminating compensation, pension credit and health benefits for board and commission members.

“People are so profoundly upset about the way that government functions,” said Assemblyman Joseph Malone, R-Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean, who serves as Republican budget officer. “They are looking for leadership, they are looking for individuals who can come up with not only some additional budget cuts, but plans on how we can work our way out of this crisis we’re in.”

Republicans also argued that the budget relies to heavily on one-shot revenue sources, including approximately $2.5 billion in federal stimulus money.

“It is deceitful to tell taxpayers that government has faced its problems and overcome them in this budget,” Malone said. “The consequences of this reckless spending will be felt next year, when the state won’t have many of the same revenue tricks to pull out of its hat.”

Democrats argued that Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie would need even more taxpayer money to carry out his plans to increase state education funding and fully fund the Homestead rebate program.

“A significant amount of work has gone into continuing New Jersey down the right fiscal path and [Christie] has a responsibility to deal in facts when discussing issues that impact millions of people across New Jersey,” said Senate Majority Leader Senator Stephen Sweeney, D-Salem.

“All the Governor has done and the Democrats have done in this year’s budget is shift items from this year to next year, just getting by,” Malone said.

Next year, New Jersey’s budget may not be Corzine’s problem. According to the Qunnipiac poll, Christie leads Corzine 47 percent to 38 percent, with 8 percent of voters backing independent candidate Christopher Daggett.

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