(TRENTON) — Assembly Budget Chairman Lou Greenwald (D-Camden) released the following statement on Monday as the Assembly Budget Committee heard from the Department of Education:

“Asking school employees to take a wage freeze during this difficult economy is certainly reasonable, but let’s stop pretending wage freezes can stop the looming property tax increases.

“We need an honest discussion with the public, not one that claims teacher wage freezes would balance Gov. Christie’s education cuts. That argument ignores reality.

“A nonpartisan analysis by the Office of Legislative Services finds that if all school districts implemented a wage freeze and combined it with the new 1.5 percent contribution to health care premiums, schools would still face an $850 million shortfall.

“Gov. Christie’s education cuts, quite simply, are going to mean property tax increases that will especially be painful for senior citizens and the middle-class.

“Tuesday’s school votes represented a revolt against the impending property tax increases caused by a Christie budget proposal that does nothing to cure our addiction to property taxes.

“Senior citizens and the middle-class have clearly had enough, but the unfortunate reality for them is that under Gov. Christie’s plan, our state is only going to become even more unaffordable.”

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