Christie Signs Bipartisan Budget But Vetoes 8 Democratic Bills
For the first time, the Republican governor withheld his veto pen and signed exactly what lawmakers passed Monday.
Gov. Chris Christie signed a $33 billion state budget today, the first he’s negotiated with state Democratic leaders and a spending plan that is 4 percent, or $1.3 billion, larger than the current one.
Running for re-election, Christie for the first time avoided a drawn-out battle with Democrats, drafting a budget in February that makes modest spending increases across the board, accepts $227 million in federal funds to expand Medicaid for an estimated 104,000 New Jerseyans, and makes a record $1.7 billion payment to the state’s pension fund.
The fiscal year 2014 budget relies on nearly 5 percent revenue growth based primarily on swelling income-tax receipts and includes homestead property tax rebates for an estimated 800,000 residents that Christie had to delay several months to close a budget gap. The rebates could be sent out in August, or possibly earlier, Christie has said.
Legislative Democrats and Republicans approved the plan Monday after removing a $2 million pilot program for school vouchers and adding a net $55 million in spending on education, nursing homes and other programs. Christie had called for a 10 percent income-tax credit, but did not push for it as hard as last year, and Democrats said the state couldn’t afford it.
For the first time, the Republican governor withheld his veto pen and signed exactly what lawmakers passed Monday. His administration and Democrats hammered out a deal in closed-door meetings last week.