(TRENTON) — Assembly Appropriations Committee Chairman John J. Burzichelli issued a multimedia package Wednesday citing concerns about the governor’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget, following a budget overview presented by the state treasurer to the Assembly Budget Committee.
Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) focused on how the proposed budget handles the state pension obligation, the Transportation Trust Fund and the state’s highest-in-the-nation property tax burden.
The multimedia package consists of a video of Burzichelli’s commentary and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of Burzichelli’s comments is appended below:
Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli (D-Gloucester), Assembly Appropriations Committee Chair:
“This is the governor’s budget, from top to bottom. This is his fifth year. It’s all his. It’s the largest budget in the state’s history; the state’s debt continues to grow; and our economy is not as robust as it needs to be to drive the important revenue streams and frankly, it’s not a surprise to many of us who have been at this for a few years.
“There are a couple of points that are of real interest, that over the next couple of weeks we’ve got to understand better. One is how the governor is proposing to fund the pension system and the formula he is using. Many of us think that it’s less than it should be and we have an obligation to get this right because people expect their pensions to be there.
“More importantly, all of us have roads on our mind at the moment. Potholes are an epidemic. The Transportation Trust Fund continues to be ignored, and now there is just simply direct borrowing, which means that we’re extending the debt out 30 years. It’s not a way to handle this and the governor has got to be open-minded to a solution of funding because roads and infrastructure are what make the economy work and we’re in trouble in that area.
“We’re going to have to work very hard in taking testimony from all departments to get to the details, because another area that simply is underfunded is the property tax relief in the form of a rebate or a credit. We have people’s property taxes – although the growth has been slowed, they’re still growing – and it’s the most regressive tax that we have. People are worried about staying in their homes, so that’s got to be a focus of this committee.”