ASSEMBLY DEMOCRATIC STATEMENTS ON MONDAY BUDGET HEARING

(TRENTON) — Democratic lawmakers on the Assembly Budget Committee released the following statements Monday after the panel convened a hearing with acting Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff:

Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Lou Greenwald (D-Camden):
“I thank the acting treasurer for testifying and answering our questions. I had hoped that this would be the start of a renewed bipartisan effort to find alternatives to Gov. Christie’s budget cuts. The governor’s cuts hike property taxes, threaten health care for the middle-class and poor and forsake opportunities for federal funding.

“We will continue our efforts to slash spending, but we must do it in a sensible way that doesn’t leave us with an even higher property tax burden, more unemployment and a devastated cancer research industry, among other impacts.

“We need to be making educated decisions and taking advantage of all opportunities to obtain federal aid that is rightfully ours and will help reduce the impact on our property taxpayers.

“Gov. Christie is not doing that here, but the impact on people’s lives is worthy of a greater debate.”

Assembly Budget Committee Vice Chairman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen/Essex):
“It is my hope that we can take a step forward and find ways to work cooperatively toward slashing spending but in a way that doesn’t devastate our middle class, commuters, college students, seniors and our most vulnerable New Jerseyans. Everyone needs to be involved in serious bipartisan discussions if we’re going to right our state’s financial ship in the most judicious way possible.”

Assembly Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nellie Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen):
“These hearings have been invaluable in giving the public the open debate and discussion Gov. Christie’s plan initially lacked. Residents have had the chance to hear the impact Gov. Christie’s cuts will have on their lives, and they now expect us to move forward together to find alternatives that won’t hurt education and health care and boost property taxes.”

Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (D-Hudson):
“Gov. Christie’s plan to withhold adult education payments is just one of many examples of a short-sighted move. Ensuring quality adult education is available to those who need it not only boosts self-confidence and improves lives, but helps keep our economy in step with ever-expanding global competition. This is among the areas I hope to now see get a second-look.”

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen):
“Gov. Christie’s cuts send the wrong signal to middle-class New Jerseyans, but at least now we can hopefully work together to find alternatives, with the Legislature’s input valued. Cutting the budget to increase property taxes is certainly not the way to go.”

Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem):
“Now that we’ve heard from the acting treasurer, I’m hopeful that we can work together to solve this budget shortfall in a way that doesn’t disproportionately hit the middle-class and people less fortunate with higher property taxes and more job losses.”

Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex):
“We have to work together – Democrats and Republicans, the Legislature and the governor – to protect the middle-class and poor the best we can so we create as little pain as possible. I hope we will especially rethink any illogical plan to leave federal dollars on the table when hospitals in particular are struggling and NJ FamilyCare is also in line for cuts. Gov. Christie’s cuts will have unintended consequences that hurt the state of New Jersey.”

Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes III (D-Middlesex):
“Government must be leaner and more efficient and we must reduce costs, but Gov. Christie’s cuts would hurt middle-class families and jeopardize the education of our children. Now maybe we can cooperatively find alternatives that do otherwise.”

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