New York, NY —
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the leaders of the Democratic-controlled New Jersey legislature reached an agreement on a budget deal this week. The budget is expected to pass in floor votes on Monday.
In an interview with WNYC, Christie says he's happy about the budget on the whole, which lowers year-to-year spending by an unprecedented nine percent, and he calls it an example of a good compromise between him and the legislature in difficult times.
The $29.4 billion spending plan will close the state's record $11 billion budget gap and closely resembles Christie's original proposal. The governor agreed to restore $74 million to programs for students, the elderly and the disabled, and got many of the cuts he called for.
Next on Christie's to-do list: a constitutional amendment that would impose a 2.5 percent cap on annual local property tax increases. Christie says the "toolkit" of 33 bills he's proposing along with the property tax cap would empower mayors and boards of education with greater leverage in collective bargaining and dealing with other costs that drive up property taxes.
Christie also says the cap would force towns to look at the idea of consolidating municipalities, something his Republican colleagues have been proposing as a way to reduce the state's property taxes, the highest in the nation. The measure would require approval by both houses of the legislature and voters.