New Jersey’s budget mess is so bad a judge last week ruled it a “disaster.”
It could be even worse in the new fiscal year that began Tuesday. At stake is a financial future of New Jersey, struggling under the weight of a $51 billion shortfall in the state retirement system.
Gov. Chris Christie on Monday night signed the $32.5 billion budget. As expected, the Republican governor used his line-item veto power to strike down a tax increase for millionaires plus a 15-percent surcharge on corporate taxes.
“The Legislature appears to be intent on inhibiting economic growth with crushing taxes,” said Christie in his veto statement.
The proposed levies, pushed by Democratic lawmakers, could have enabled New Jersey to make a statutorily required $2.25 billion contribution to state pension funds. Instead, Christie cut the payment down to $681 million to balance the budget, as required by the state constitution.
“The governor has decided to continue protecting the state’s wealthiest at the expense of the middle class and working poor,” countered Senate President Steve Sweeney in a statement.
The next episode of “As New Jersey Turns” is likely to occur in Mercer County Superior Court.
Judge Mary C. Jacobson last week declared the last-minute budget crisis was an emergency under the state’s Disaster Control Act, a statute typically reserved for hurricanes and similar acts of God.
In doing so, the judge allowed Christie to chop $887 million from the state’s legally required pension contribution for the expiring fiscal year.