(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer) made the following statement Wednesday on the Assembly Democratic budget proposal:
“Thank you Madam Speaker.
“I’m very sorry to have to do this to my Republican colleagues, because why let the facts get in a way of a perfectly good story, but I’m going to do it anyway.
“We’ve heard a lot this week, today and – for that matter – during the last 18 months about how Gov. Christie has made the smart and tough choices to steer New Jersey in the right direction.
“But let’s be clear – there’s nothing tough about raising property taxes.
“There’s nothing smart about hiking income taxes on the working poor.
“There’s nothing tough about closing health clinics for women.
“There’s nothing smart about blocking job creation and economic growth.
“There’s nothing smart tough about school funding cuts that lead to laying off teachers and cutting school programs.
“There’s nothing smart about municipal aid cuts that risk public safety through police and firefighter layoffs.
“Now, I’m not pleased by everything in this budget.
“I am supporting this budget even though I believe the Capitol City – Trenton – continues to be underserved and under-supported.
“As the state capitol and thanks to property also owned by the federal and county governments, this budget does not fairly treat Trenton’s need for substantially increased support.
“That this document and the state of New Jersey refuses to address the potential value of the Capitol as a historical destination and tourism Mecca is unfair and unenlightened.
“Still, even though we have not recognized our legitimate responsibility to our capitol, a city that belongs to all new Jerseyans, there is enough in this budget to proudly support.
“For instance, we have nearly 9 million people in New Jersey, and I ask – who among them is better off then they were 18 months ago?
“We have nearly 9 million people in New Jersey, and I ask – who among them is better off then they were 18 months ago?
“The answer is clear – only 16,000 of us.
“And those 16,000 are the wealthiest among us, the millionaires enjoying their Gov. Christie tax break.
“We gave the governor the chance last year to make things right, but it’s quite apparent his policies have been a failure.
“It’s time to refocus our efforts on working class New Jerseyans.
“It’s time to return to the values that made us strong, such as property tax relief for the middle-class, help for the poor, protections for seniors, health care for women and job creation.
“You know, I was honored this year to be named to the Assembly Budget Committee.
“And I found our public hearings especially enlightening this year.
“During those hearings, we heard hours upon hours of testimony from those detailing how the governor’s budget policies were going to hurt this state.
“Yet, when we unveiled the Democratic budget proposal on Monday, not a single person testified or submitted testimony against it.
“In fact, the budget was supported by groups such as the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, who know that the Democratic business tax reforms included in this budget will create jobs and economic development.
“It was supported by educators who know the increased school funding in this budget will help children and taxpayers in communities throughout our state, whether they be urban, suburban or rural.
“It was endorsed by health care providers who know that this budget will return New Jersey to its core value of accessible health care for everyone, particularly the women who have been denied health care under this governor.
“Seniors backed this plan, knowing that it will increase property tax relief for senior citizens that has been frozen by this governor.
“It was backed by advocates for the disabled, who know this budget plan provides the needed health care and education safety net for our most vulnerable residents.
“This is a budget that reflects the needs of New Jersey’s working class families.
“It’s a budget that soundly rejects the notion that a better New Jersey means tax cuts for millionaires and tax increases for everyone else.
“Soon we will be asked to vote on this plan, and I ask each and every one of my colleagues to do the right thing and say, ‘Enough is enough. New Jersey families cannot afford more of Gov. Christie’s budget policies.’
“Do the right thing for working class New Jersey and support this budget.”