The full State legislature has approved the Democrat-sponsored $31.741 billion State Budget. The State Senate and Assembly passed it yesterday.

The budget does not include the guaranteed tax cut that Governor Chris Christie has been demanding since February and he’s expected to line-item veto much, if not all of the Democrats’ spending additions.

“With today’s budget, Corzine Democrats reversed course and sent a loud and clear signal that they want to go back to the eight years prior to my administration when taxes and fees were raised every 25 days. After two years without raising taxes, the only way to feed the Corzine Democrats’ obsession is to hold tax relief hostage,” said Christie just after the budget bill passed. “I will not allow New Jersey to go back to the same failed policies that nearly put our state over a fiscal cliff. Tax relief for our hardworking families is long overdue and that is exactly what I will continue fighting for.”

Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo sponsored the budget bill in the Upper House. He says, “This is a smart, responsible budget that reflects economic conditions. It doesn’t achieve all that we would want, but it accomplishes what we can afford. It meets the state’s most important needs and it advances Democratic priorities without putting the state at risk of an economic crisis during the year ahead.”

The budget spends $62 million less than the Governor’s revised proposal and sets aside $183 million more in the surplus for a to-be-determined tax cut that would be enacted in January only if revenues match Christie’s estimates.

“This budget plans for the tax cut,” explains Sarlo. “It doesn’t necessarily have to commit to it today, but the tax cut is part of this budget…We should use the six months between now and then to gauge the economy and monitor state revenues.”

Assembly GOP leader Jon Bramnick says, “It’s not appropriate to simply sit on the fence and say, ‘Maybe we’ll have a tax cut, maybe we won’t.’”

The plan restores the cut to the Earned Income Tax Credit with $50 million. By returning the EITC from a 20 percent credit to 25 percent providing a tax cut for the working poor. The budget also includes an additional $25 million for nursing homes.

“In this budget, we’re restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit,” says Assembly Budget Committee chairman Vinnie Prieto. “The Earned Income Tax Credit is for the people that make very little money in the State of New Jersey and they actually get money back instead of having to pay, you know, taxes. It was cut out two years ago and it was reduced to 20 percent. We’re bringing it up to full 25 percent and it’s real relief to this working class of the State of New Jersey that needs relief today.”

Sarlo says, “I do possess a serious concern about the budget. It is based on the governor’s revenue predictions of a 7.2 percent increase, one of the highest in the country and almost twice as high as most other states.”

Senate Republican Budget Officer Tony Bucco says, “The voters have resounding rejected the ‘government first, taxpayers second’ economic policy: the one under which New Jersey’s government grew exponentially while the private sector shrunk. They don’t want higher taxes, and they don’t even want the status quo. They want us to cut taxes.”

“No sooner had the Governor introduced his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year than the Democrats began attacking his revenue projections,” Republican Joe Pennacchio, a member of the Senate budget panel. “We now know those protests to be empty, hollow arguments because those very same Democrats kept the Governor’s projections in their own budget bill so they could spend all the money- with the exception of funds earmarked for a tax cut. We are being told this budget has put aside $183 million for the tax cut “just in case”, but there is no tax cut as of today in this budget. The taxpayers are being asked to wait and see.”

The legislature has also has agreed to spend almost $7.5 million to fund women’s health clinics in a bill that is almost certain to be vetoed again by Christie.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman says, “Well, we’re trying to restore women’s health care. That’s been a very small item in the budget that has been eliminated for the last two years by this administration for ideologic but not fiscal reasons, and it has resulted in fewer women getting examinations; access to health care. It’s even caused some facilities that provide those services to close down. So, we’re fighting very hard to restore that.”

According to Christie’s press office, as has been the case for the last two years when discussing women’s health programs and services, Democrats have wanted to put a singular focus on $7.5 million in funding for duplicative services and ignore completely the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars that Governor Christie has prioritized to protect women and provide them the services they need in every part of our state. They’ve even ignored areas where spending has actually gone up.

At a minimum, the important work done through the Federally Qualified Health Centers, located in all 21 counties, and community health centers in giving women the care and services they need is critical to note. That funding has increased under this administration. Specifics on that below and a complete run down of this Governor’s continued support for the full spectrum of women’s health issues is down below.

Democrats are pushing for a series of other spending items not included in the budget bill, such as sending $66 million in utility tax revenue back to municipalities and raising the income tax on earnings over $1 million to finance further property tax cuts for lower-income homeowners. Democratic lawmakers added $25 million to funding for nursing homes and promised savings from a reduction in the size of the state government workforces, among other changes to Christie’s proposed budget.

The Assembly also passed a transportation bill proposed by Christie that lets the state to borrow $3.5 billion to pay for projects over the next four years. The debt payments for that would be $300 million per year. The Senate is expected to weigh in on that on Thursday too.