From the NJ Herald.
Republican state lawmakers from Sussex County praised Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed $32.1 billion budget, calling it the right direction for New Jersey and the economy.
“The governor’s message about the New Jersey comeback has been spreading before tonight’s speech,” Assemblywoman Alison McHose, R-24th Dist., said in an interview after the governor’s speech Tuesday.
“It is a true reflection of the optimism that is spreading across the state. I was pleased to hear the governor continue to support the path of changes to the tax structure that will keep businesses here in our state and continue to grow jobs, and we will continue to push for these changes,” McHose said.
Assemblyman Gary Chiusano, R-24th Dist., said the 2012-13 budget is larger than last year’s spending plan, but still lower than the 2008 budget.
“We were able to increase spending on school aid in this budget as well as put $1.1 billion toward the pension fund. That is the largest payment made to the fund by any administration, Republican or Democrat, in 15 years,” Chiusano said. “We can reduce the income tax and maintain funding for property tax relief, all while growing the economy. That is a positive message.”
Chiusano said a major aspect of the funding for the tax cuts and increased spending on school aid will come from increased projections in state revenue generated by sales tax collections, business taxes and increased income tax revenue from an estimated 60,000 new jobs in the state.
While positive projections of the state’s economy may sound promising, many negatively impacted by Christie’s budget ax last year are keeping a more realistic outlook.
Mary Emilius, chief professional officer for the United Way of Northern New Jersey in Sussex County, said the state has yet to release any specifics about what cuts or reductions will be made in services in 2013, but she is cautious about her expectations.
“It will most likely be the same kind of pain as last budget,” Emilius said. “We have become resigned to the fact that they are going to keep cutting. The reality is we were overspending, and now we have to cut. But I will give the governor this, he said in his campaign this is what he was going to do, and he is doing it. He doesn’t seem to care about higher office; he wants to balance that budget.”
Paul Mazur, president of Sussex County Community College, said following the speech, “We’re encouraged that Gov. Christie recognizes higher education as a priority.”
“We are waiting on more details, but at this time we understand the governor’s plan calls for state operating aid to all public colleges, including community colleges, to remain level and that there will be increased funding to the TAG program for students,” Mazur said, referring to the state-funded financial aid program.
State Sen. Steve Oroho, R-24th Dist., said the next step for the budget process is hearings before the Assembly and Senate over the next few months. This is where line item amounts can increase or decrease in the $32.1 billion spending plan.
“This truly balanced budget provides property tax relief, decreases income taxes while making the state’s largest pension payment yet following up on our commitment as part of the landmark pension reform legislation enacted last year,” Oroho said. “Because of the responsible budgeting under this governor, we’ve stabilized expenses and helped create a sustained period of private-sector job growth these past two years in stark contrast to the jobs we hemorrhaged as a result of the policy decisions under the former administration.”