TRENTON – Senator Wayne R. Bryant, Chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, issued the following comments as his State Budget Bill, S-3000, for the fiscal year which began today, was adopted by the Senate 22-15.
“The remarkable aspect about this budget is that, at $27.9 billion, it comes in $500 million below the adjusted appropriation for the preceding year of $28.4 billion. For that, Governor Codey deserves tremendous praise. A budget smaller than its predecessor hasn’t happened in New Jersey for at least ten years.
This budget reflects Governor Codey’s request that it be compassionate without being wasteful, that it reduce spending without abandoning the legitimate needs of our people and that it provide a surplus that will signal to the bond rating houses that New Jersey is on sound fiscal footing and open for business.
“We built this budget on a strong foundation of recurring revenues and we reduced the size of a one-shot revenue source through sale of state assets from $500 million to $200 million.
“And as for property tax relief, our total for rebates now approach $1.1 billion with seniors getting the same $1,200 they received last year and non-seniors receiving up to $350.
“We were able to restore various cuts in the Governor’s March proposal, particularly in the area of health care. One area which was one of my priorities from the outset was a $9.5 million restoration to eliminate co-pays for Medicaid, medical day care and home visits.
“Very importantly, we found restorations for charity care to equal the previous budget year total of $583 million. These funds to help the working poor are vital for their families.
“In the same vein, I thank Senator (Joseph) Vitale for his efforts to expand the Family Care program’s portion in this budget. Senator Vitale’s advocacy for Family Care has been unflagging for the 75,000 families who will be able to enter the program this year.
“The annual process of adopting a budget is a difficult endeavor, but I am proud of the tireless work done this year by the Democrats and Republicans on my committee, by the partisan budget staffs and by the Office of Legislative Services.
“I am also proud of the negotiators in both the Senate and the Assembly who brought this budget document to a reality this evening through a deep concern for taxpayers and a willingess to compromise.”