No Surprises Expected in NJ Budget [AUDIO]
In late February, Gov. Chris Christie proposed what he described as a fiscally responsible budget plan. He set a specific dollar amount as governors always do. Rarely is the final spending plan as close to what was proposed as this year's budget is expected to be even though Democratic leaders are still tweaking it a bit.
"In total, the budget I am submitting to you today provides $32.9 billion in state spending," said Christie in his Budget Address. "While we are meeting the needs of our people in this budget, we are doing it by spending less than the state spent in Fiscal Year 2008. Let me repeat that for you. Six years later, a budget that still spends less. Where else is this happening in America? This is what happens when you have a government that tells people the truth, that makes the hard choices and actually manages our government."
The State Senate Budget Committee was expected to approve a budget bill yesterday, but the final product is still not ready. When it is ready it is likely to very closely resemble what Christie is asking for in the fiscal year that begins July 1. The deadline for a signed and balanced budget is midnight June 30.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo said $32.9 billion is the base number. "We're now working on some of the specifics and some of the language and everybody has been very cooperative. We're still well ahead of the June 30th date so we're heading in the right direction."
The full Upper House will approve the budget bill no later than this Monday according to Sarlo and Senate President Steve Sweeney who also said because the spending plan has been negotiated every step of the way with the Assembly and the Christie Administration, there will be no surprises when the budget bill hits the Governor's desk.
"Our aim is to get a budget done and get him to sign it," said Sweeney.
The ranking Republican on the Senate budget panel is disappointed that the committee didn't have a bill to vote on yesterday, but he's still optimistic.
"It's a negotiated agreement so I would imagine yes the governor would sign it then if he's satisfied with it," explained State Sen. Tony Bucco.
Asked if he thinks Christie will be satisfied, Bucco responded, "Can't answer you that question now. I don't have a crystal ball."