Governor Christie is set to put forward a new state budget on Tuesday, and though administration officials have not offered any details beforehand, the governor has talked repeatedly about his desire to cut taxes.
Democratic leaders in the state Senate on Monday held a news conference to discuss the budget as they see it, with Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, saying this year’s fiscal puzzle may be the hardest to solve yet for Christie, a Republican who took office amid recession in early 2010.
State revenues continue to lag Christie’s projections, the payment into the public employee pension system is set to rise again to over $2 billion and a heavy reliance on borrowing is putting pressure on the state fund that pays for transportation improvements.
“You’ve got a billion plus problem on our hands,” Sarlo said during a morning news conference in the State House.
“You’re talking about real dollars here,” Sarlo said. “You have a budget that is structurally imbalanced.”
Sarlo was joined by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, who renewed calls for Christie to include the full payment into the pension system, which remains underfunded despite the round of public employee givebacks enacted in 2011.
“We’re going to have this pension payment funded or we won’t pass a budget,” Sweeney said.
He was then asked about the likelihood of Democrats passing a budget with that new tax cut in it.
“You’ve got to be kidding me right now,” Sweeney said.
First, he said Christie will have to restore cuts he’s enacted to property tax relief, municipal aid and a tax credit program that benefits the working poor.
Sarlo added: “We need to be realistic with what we’re faced with.”