(TRENTON) — The Democratic members of the Assembly Budget Committee — Gary S. Schaer (D-Passaic), the panel’s chairman, Joseph Cryan (D-Union), Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen), John J. Burzichelli (D-Gloucester), the Assembly Appropriations Committee Chairman, Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), Benjie E. Wimberly (D-Passaic), Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex) and Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson) — issued a multimedia package Thursday on the passage of the Democratic budget for fiscal year 2015.
The Democratic budget sent to Governor Christie’s desk is a budget that protects the values of New Jersey’s hard working middle class families. It recognizes that women and families require access to quality health care and that vital services, such as nursing homes, cancer research, college affordability and domestic violence programs must be protected.
It gives tax relief to those who need it most, while responsibly fulfilling the obligations the state has to teachers, police and firefighters. It restores millionaires to their 2009 tax rate, a move that embodies fairness and shared sacrifice. It is a budget that makes clear that — unlike Governor Christie’s reckless funding plan — Democratic priorities are in line with those of the state’s middle class, working families and the poor.
While the governor allows vital obligations to go unresolved, the Democratic budget meets several of New Jersey’s most important needs and is the most fiscally responsible plan that can be offered in these difficult economic times.
The multimedia package consists of a video of the Democratic Assembly Budget Committee members discussing the benefits of the Democratic budget and how it differs from the governor’s irresponsible budgeting and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of comments from the Budget Committee members is appended below:
Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer (D-Passaic), Assembly Budget Committee Chairman:
“The budget that we were initially handed by the governor a few months ago was, at best, a difficult budget and one which we as the Democratic Party had serious reservations about.
“That budget proposal was exacerbated and made infinitely worse as a result of the tremendous budget shortfall that occurred as a result of assumption of tax revenue which did not come in and put this state well over $2.2 billion in the hole.”
Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union):
“The governor’s leadership, frankly, hasn’t been there, in terms of middle class families; in terms of property tax relief; in terms of job opportunity.”
Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen):
“Realizing that the governor’s projections were overblown, as we go forward, it’s about taking care of the middle class; taking care of the low income; access to education; access to higher ed; access to medical care; and taking care of our seniors. And the budget that we’re presenting today does do that.”
Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli (D-Gloucester), Assembly Appropriations Committee Chairman:
“This budget, as we presented it to the governor, represents and reflects priorities that touch a vast majority of New Jerseyans. Family issues, women’s issues, school funding issues and meeting the obligations – our contractual obligations – for the pension payment.”
Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington):
“We had a lot of challenges with putting this together, but our overarching mantra was making sure we did something that met our obligations and did not put any unforced burdens on those who’ve been struggling the most in our society. And I think we’ve tried to meet that challenge.”
Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly (D-Passaic):
“It’s a responsible budget. And it’s something that I think that will work for, you know, each person that is working hard every day to get food on the table and to take care of their families.”
Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex):
“I think that this budget touches everyone. And when I say that, I mean it’s a true middle class type of budget. This budget has everything that we truly need as a state to move forward.”
Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson):
“This budget has an eye toward protecting working class families and our most vulnerable residents — senior citizens, nursing home reimbursements through the Medicaid program, hospital charity care funding — so that we’re not balancing our budget on the backs of those who can ill afford to do it.”
“As you read through this budget, you see the face of New Jersey. A face that’s very diverse, but understands that working families need additional assistance; that women need additional health care; and that our school systems have to be properly funded; and we should meet our obligations in making pension payments.
“That’s what people expect us to do. That’s how people like to run their households. This budget reflects that.”
“What this budget does is actually level the field in terms of fairness; in terms of opportunities for the future; and in terms of New Jerseyans realizing government is providing a fair shake for them. I think it protects not only Democratic values, but every day values.
“What I hear from folks in the street is ‘When do I get a fair shake? When does somebody look out for me?’ And this budget does that. It corrects, frankly, some things that should have been corrected previously and I think it’s not just a Democratic budget, it’s a people’s budget.”
“We have a job to do. The Democratic Party has recognized that. These are difficult decisions that are being made, decisions which, under any other circumstances, we would not want to make. But we need to provide financial and fiduciary integrity to this budget and to the people of the state who we represent. This is a fiscally prudent and fiscally responsible budget.”