(WEST ORANGE) — Assemblyman John F. McKeon, a member of the Assembly Budget Committee, issued the following statement Wednesday criticizing the lack of solutions and selective recollection of history in the governor’s budget address:
“I am disappointed that the Governor was unclear as to how he will fund the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) and that he didn’t address such issues as the failure of Atlantic City or explain his diminished pension payments (several billion short of the mandated amount).
“It should be clear though that the Governor claiming that he has made the largest pension contributions of the past five governors is a major stretch of the truth; the 2011 pension-benefit reforms the Governor sought and received required him to make the pension payments he brags about making.
“However, the Governor has since fought his own law, claiming it to be unconstitutional, and now is able to make pension payments of any amount he sees fit. That means investing four billion dollars less than he promised and 18 billion less than the full actuarial required payments. Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise to him or any New Jerseyan that our state has received nine credit downgrades and now has structural deficit of $10.2 billion.
“The Governor talked about not raising taxes, but his lack of funding for the school funding formula has led municipalities to raise their taxes for education; his lack of funding for NJ Transit has led to 9% and now 25% fare hikes; and our total bonded state debt is now over $35 billion, several billion more than when Governor Christie took office.
“These are all forms of tax increases on our middle- and working-class.
“On top of all of this, the governor did not lay out any clear path to address two of the state’s most pressing problems: our highest-in-the-nation property taxes, and our slowest in the region job growth.
“We in the Legislature have presented solutions to address some of these problems, but we cannot address them in a vacuum and we cannot solve them with an executive in-absentia. As the governor so pointedly reminded us, his tenure as governor lasts for another 630 days. Without the distraction of pursuing a higher office, perhaps we can bring him back to the table so we can finally being to address the lingering and languishing problems facing our state.”