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Bryant: Budget Help Needed For Working Families

TRENTON – Senator Wayne R. Bryant, Chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, said he hopes the Legislature can improve Governor Corzine’s $30.9 billion State budget proposal by making it “friendlier to working families.”

The Camden County Democrat, the Senate’s top budget expert, said it is premature to endorse the Governor’s proposal to raise the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent or to back any other proposed revenue raisers to help close a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall until State tax totals over the the next 60 days are assessed. He said he is “extremely concerned” by the estimated $300 million “negative impact” the Governor’s proposed spending plan would have on higher education in New Jersey.

“In the language of the Governor’s people, we’re going to re-scrub what they’ve scrubbed and then maybe scrub it again. I think the Governor did a fine job in meeting his constitutional obligation to present us with a balanced budget plan. But we in the Legislature have the advantage of analyzing the tax reports for April and May before making any final determinations about new taxes. What I believe we will stress in our committee review process as we go over the budget, line by line, is whether we can find ways to make it friendlier to working families. The people we can’t ever abandon are the working folks with families who are paying mortgages on their houses, trying to buy cars their children can drive and hoping they can put together enough money to send those same kids to college. A State budget has to fit the real-world realities of affordability for people who are paying high property taxes, but who also have parents and grandparents who need a whole lot of prescription drugs as they get on in years. I think Governor Corzine has given us a business-friendly document that we will now seek to improve upon as an equal branch of government. He gave it a good-faith effort and now it’s our job to see if we can make it better for the people who pay the bills and rely on the services provided by the State.”

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