Question Gov’s Attempt to Circumvent Legislature by Executive Order; Dismayed by ‘Cuts’ that will Prompt Property Tax Increases

(TRENTON) — Assembly Democrats today issued a multimedia package responding to Gov. Chris Christie’s address to a joint session of the Legislature.

The multimedia package consists of a video response to the address, audio of the same, a transcript of comments from Assembly Democrats and press releases 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 on the bipartisan public hearing 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):
“This Legislature is committed to correcting and putting us on sure footing. This Legislature is committed to reforming our pension and benefits system. This Legislature is committed to fixing COAH. This Legislature is committed to changing the climate in New Jersey, but we will do it in the way that is set forth in our state constitution.”

Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee chair:
“Clearly, the governor is trying to make a case for acting unilaterally by executive power. The problem is that the constitution doesn’t provide for those powers. I think fundamentally what we saw today was an address, while talking about doing the right thing, relies on the tried and true one shot gimmicks to try and balance a budget that is going to be balanced on the backs of the taxpayers of the State of New Jersey.”

Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald (D-Camden), Assembly Budget Committee chair:
“Today Governor Christie stood up and said we have to stop taking hard-earned dollars out of taxpayers’ pockets, but that’s exactly what he did today. Instead of allowing that money to go back into the pockets of property taxpayers in school districts around this state, he took it out of their pocket and put it in his to solve his own budget problems. That’s not leadership. That’s not ‘change has arrived.’ That’s just stealing somebody else’s change for your own pocket.”

Assemblywoman Nellie Pou (D-Passaic), Assembly Appropriations Committee chair:
“The cuts that he is proposing are cuts that I believe are ones that can have a more negative impact on our programs and our communities and certainly that of property taxes.”

Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex), Assembly Education Committee chair:
“If you reduce aid to education, it has to be raised somewhere. If it’s not going to be raised through state aid, it has to be raised through property taxes. So, the net effect of the governor’s proposal today is an increase in property taxes.”

Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (D-Camden), Assembly Higher Education Committee chair:
“The cuts that Governor Christie is recommending for higher education, which amounts to about $62 million, is going to be devastating. It’s devastating for almost a half a million people who go off to our county colleges and our four-year colleges every single year. This is going to directly hit their wallets, and I don’t know where he thinks that the money is going to be made up for our students to be able to achieve success and be able to be educated for the future.”

“We possess at this moment no information in terms of the identification of the school districts, the amount of money those school districts will be effectuated by. We have no information regarding the 375 programs in the current year budget that will be slashed or eliminated, but our Assembly Budget Committee will begin to examine them.”

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