Democrats Compromise With Governor On State Budget

TRENTON – Democrats have reached an agreement with Republican Gov. Chris Christie on a state budget that largely follows the $32.9 billion spending plan that the governor outlined in February.

“The process also gave us the opportunity to negotiate for budget priorities that are important to Democrats,” Senate Budget Chairman Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) said in a written statement.

“Governor Christie was able to work with Budget Chairman Sarlo and Senate Democrats to produce a responsible budget that funds important mandates, such as record pension and education funding,” said Senate Republican Budget and Appropriation Committee Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris) via statement.

The compromise budget was released by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, who approved it by an 11-2 vote Thursday. State Sens. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Nellie Pou (D-Passaic) cast the dissenting votes because they believe the budget ignores the needs of women and the middle class.

The negotiated budget reduces spending projections for Medicaid by $97.2 million and reallocates those funds for higher education reorganization, cancer research grants, nursing home operators and school districts, among other priorities.

The budget does not include a $2 million school voucher pilot program advocated by the governor.

The Assembly budget panel is scheduled to vote on the proposal later today, with the full Legislature scheduled to vote on it Monday.

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