(TRENTON) – Assembly Democratic Budget Committee members released the following statements Thursday as the panel heard from the Office of Legislative Services on its estimate of a $10.5 billion budget deficit for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2011:
Assembly Budget Chairman Louis D. Greenwald (D-Camden):
“Gov. Christie may be content with his victory laps and confabs with the Queen of England, but this budget deficit clearly shows the impact of his failure to meet obligations such as funding pensions, property tax relief and school aid.
“Gov. Christie can try to solve problems by avoiding obligations and pretending they don’t exist, but that’s like a family saying, ‘We’re going to tighten our belts and we’re going to live within our means, but we’re not paying our bills.’ A family wouldn’t do that, and neither should the state.”
Assembly Appropriations Chairwoman Nellie Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen):
“Democrats and Republicans worked hard last year to pass a series of pension reform bills, but all that progress was wiped out when Gov. Christie failed to meet his obligation to fund the state’s pension system.
“As we just heard, that failure to do so has only worsened the problem, increasing the amount needed next fiscal year to fully fund our pension system by about $200 million. And that is with the governor and treasurer unable to figure out amongst themselves whether they will even make a payment next year.
Assembly Budget Vice Chairman Gary S. Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen/Essex):
“New Jersey’s public colleges and universities, community colleges and independent colleges help build the futures of New Jersey students and families, including many from lower-income and middle-class families. Those futures were put at risk under Gov. Christie’s budget plan, and it looks like next year won’t be any better.
“When we’re talking about growing a competitive and strong New Jersey economy, higher education needs to be a fundamental part of that effort, but the OLS analysis notes the governor has put our support for higher education in a $275 million hole to start next year.
“We will never achieve a robust and competitive economy with budget cuts that would deny college to many.”
Assemblywoman Joan M. Quigley (D-Hudson):
“Gov. Christie as a candidate promised to fully fund property tax rebates, but this analysis and recent comments from the administration appear to show that promise meant very little.
“Unfortunately, for New Jersey homeowners, it looks like the worst is yet to come when it comes to Christie property tax hikes.”
Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen):
“Gov. Christie may enjoy patting himself on the back for his self-proclaimed job well done, but this study shows a different reality.
“His budget policies have done nothing but sink the state deeper into deficit while increasing property taxes and numerous other taxes on working class residents.
“This is a bleak analysis that unfortunately likely means more Christie tax and fee hikes on the poor and middle-class next year.”
Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex):
“A strong business environment requires a strong transportation infrastructure, but as this projections shows, Gov. Christie is putting our transportation system at real risk of falling apart, which will only mean more job losses for working class New Jerseyans.
“Gov. Christie’s failure to offer any solution to our transportation funding problem has blown at least $800 million hole in next fiscal year’s budget. This will cripple our economy, send businesses to other states and put more residents on the unemployment line.
Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes III (D-Middlesex):
“This OLS analysis and the testimony we heard today doesn’t bode well for working class New Jerseyans who deserve better from Gov. Christie.
“In just one year his budget policies have led to higher property taxes, increased tuition, health care woes and slower economic growth. Now, we hear this may just be the start, with even worse times ahead.”