WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Governor Chris Christie has signed a $31.7 billion dollar budget for the next fiscal year that starts Sunday. But he also vetoed $361 million in spending backed by Democrats that Christie said the state can't afford.
Christie used his formal veto message to go after Democrats for failing to give him the 10 percent income tax cut he believes the state needs to draw prospective employers — and new jobs. And for the third time, he vetoed the Democrats bid to restore the state's millionaires’ tax, arguing it would drive the wealthy out of New Jersey.
Christie wrote that the Democrats spending and tax plans, which passed the state legislature earlier this week, "denies middle-class New Jerseyans critical and long overdue tax relief," while proposing "a massive $800 million tax increase that would undermine economic growth, investment and the creation of jobs for New Jerseyans."
Democrats charged that Christie vetoes targeted the working poor, who would have received a boost in the state's earned income tax credit.
They offered a long list of casualties of Christie's actions Friday including additional aid to local governments and stepped up oversight of the state's half way houses.
On Christie's proposed income tax cut, Democrats said that as long as state's tax revenues continue to run hundreds of millions behind projections, the state should take a wait and see approach.
Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, chair of the Assembly budget committee, did credit Christie with preserving at least one Democratic spending priority.
"While it’s unfortunate that the governor, once again, turned his back on women’s health and the working poor, I am comforted that he recognized the fragility of the nursing home industry and maintained most of the funding we had restored," Prieto wrote.
But Prieto claimed the mantle of fiscal responsibility for his party. “We all support tax cuts, but tax cuts must be focused on property tax relief and they must be ones we can afford. Irresponsible tax cuts have helped create the economic morass we face in this state and nation, and we are not going to make the same mistake again."
The governor did make a billion dollar payment into the state's pension system as part of the bi-partisan program to shore up the state's public pensions.
As hot as the budget rhetoric got this year Governor Christie actually zeroed out far fewer budget items this year. Last year he line item vetoed almost a billion dollars from last year’s budget, which was just under $30 billion.