***MULTIMEDIA PACKAGE*** ASSEMBLY DEMOCRATIC RESPONSE TO GOV. CHRISTIE’S FY 2011 BUDGET ADDRESS

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(TRENTON) — The Assembly Democratic caucus today issued a multimedia package responding to Gov. Chris Christie’s FY 2011 proposed budget. The Governor unveiled his proposal during a Joint Session of the Legislature on Tuesday.

The multimedia package consists of a video response to the address, audio of the same, a transcript of comments from Assembly Democrats and a press release from the lawmakers discussing the address in more detail.

The video can be accessed directly via our Web site — www.assemblydems.com — or by clicking here.

The audio file is available upon request.

A press release response to the governor’s budget proposal can be found at either www.assemblydems.com or by visiting the Assembly Democrats on Facebook.

A transcript of comments by Assembly Democratic lawmakers is appended below:

Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex):
“So it is a disturbing budget. It is a budget that working families may not necessarily understand, but as they go about their daily lives, if this budget were to be effectuated, there is not a working family in this state that will not feel it or suffer.”

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan (D-Union):
“I thought, frankly, the speech was an assault on property taxpayers of this state. I thought the line that was most alarming for me was when he said, ‘I will not sign any tax increase.’ The first thing I thought of as I listened to his speech was ‘Then he’s not going to sign his own budget,’ because it’s a tax increase to every single property taxpayer in the state.”

Oliver:
“There are no proposals really being placed on the table to give any direct property tax relief to citizens this year. The governor is projecting that the first time citizens will get tax relief is in May of 2011. Also, this budget contains no tax relief for renters or tenants.”

Assemblywoman Nellie Pou (D-Passaic), Assembly Appropriations Committee Chair:
“He is reducing school aid. He’s reducing municipal aid. He’s impacting Charity Care and eliminating for some FamilyCare insurance coverage.”

Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (D-Camden), Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair:
“When he’s taking $173 million away out of next year’s budget, and has already taken $63 million out of this current year’s budget, that’s a significant amount of money from the taxpayers and from the students who want to continue their higher education. Look, we need to invest in our children. We need to look at our colleges as economic engines to be able to help with turning around the economy.”

Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex), Assembly Education Committee Chair:
“Very disturbing education cuts. I was recently reading a biography of Franklin Roosevelt and his quote was, ‘That in the most economically difficult times, education should remain a top priority.’ Today the governor made it the top priority for cuts.”

Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen):
“If you use mass transit in an urban area to get to a school or to buy groceries or to get around town, you’re paying an additional fee, which is also known as a tax. So, the poor and the middle class will still be subjected to increased fees, which means increased taxation.”

Assemblyman Upendra J. Chivukula (D-Somerset):
“There are so much of cuts that are there that are going to go back to the local school districts and the municipalities and the people — taxpayers — have to pay one way or the other.”

Assemblyman Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. (D-Burlington):
“We heard promises that property tax relief was going to be maintained; that school funding was going to be maintained; that the tax burden on average folks would not be increased; and indeed, we can see the exact opposite. The only promise so far that I can tell that’s been kept is one to lower the tax burden on the wealthiest New Jerseyans.”

Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald (D-Camden), Assembly Budget Committee Chair:
“This is basically Bush politics of tax breaks for the wealthy and trying to shift it, trickle down to the middle-class. We’ve seen that has not worked on the national level. I doubt it will work here in New Jersey.”

Oliver:
“So no, this budget doesn’t sit well, but speaking on behalf of the Assembly Democratic Majority, we know that we can just not be unhappy with the presentation of the budget. It is up to us, as the majority, to examine every aspect of this budget, which we will be doing through a series of public hearings over the course of the next several weeks. And we will attempt to work with the governor to create some semblance of stability for working families.”

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