Currently a major fiscal battle is taking place between Republicans and Democrats in the state government regarding New Jersey’s budget gap of nearly $2 billion. While both want to address the state’s budget woes, the parties have differing routes.
Governor Chris Christie and his Republican allies are proposing to take money from the state workers in the form of reducing payments to the public worker pension system in order to fill the gap while Democrats want to increase taxes on the wealthy.
There has been an outpouring of opposition to both plans, albeit from different sectors of the public. Public unions, such as Public Employees Retirement System, voted unanimously to go so far as to hire attorneys to sue Governor Christie over his proposed plan. On the other side of the aisle, many business leaders have come out against the Sweeney plan, saying that it will damage the state’s economy in the long-term.
According to The Star Ledger state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union) stated that the Democratic budget plan would “make this a much more difficult place to live, to work, to raise a family, to vacation, to raise tourist dollars, to really be a beacon for people around this country and around this globe to really believe in economic growth and opportunity.”
There seem to be problems with both plans. According to the Governor’s economic team, his proposed plan would cost taxpayers $4.2 billion over five years- almost double the Governor’s proposed pension cuts of about $2.4 billion. On top of this, according to Fox Business, the major credit rating agency Fitch has warned that the Governor’s plan would hurt the state’s credit rating as it “once again displays an inability to deliver a recurring solution to the state's budgetary imbalance and further delays action to align the state's revenues and expenditures.”
The Democratic budget is problematic as it is already dead on arrival. While it has passed the Assembly and State Senate budget committees, the Governor has said that he will veto it.
(Devon Douglas-Bowers works for District 27 Assemblywoman Mila Jasey).
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