Buono: Dip Into Surplus, Not Middle Class Wallets

Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, speaks on the floor of the General Assembly before Governor Chris Christie announces more than $2 billion in mid-year budget cuts for FY 2010.

Senate Majority Leader Weighs in on Christie Proposals

TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono today recognized that solutions are needed to address New Jersey’s current fiscal crisis, but called the Governor’s budget choices misguided and misdirected.

“It would appear that the Governor is going out of his way to hurt middle class taxpayers by largely placing the burden on their backs to solve the current fiscal crisis. He has chosen to ignore a $500 million surplus that could close a sizeable portion of the deficit, instead cutting critical aid that directly impacts middle-class and low-income families already on a shoe-string budget.

“We are essentially punishing fiscal restraint if we take away the surplus from well-managed school districts who, by law, are required to turn any remaining surplus back over to taxpayers anyway. The Legislature is committed to making the tough cuts necessary to balance the budget, but this isn’t the way to do it. In the days ahead, these proposals will be thoroughly vetted and weighed against other less harmful solutions.

“The legislature has expressed a willingness to work cooperatively in a bipartisan fashion to address these critical issues. Just this week we introduced a package of bills to implement the long-term reforms needed to save our pension and benefits system, one of the biggest drivers of property taxes. We did so with a pledge of bipartisanship and instead have been met with a lack of candor and communication about the choices proposed today.

“One must even question the legality of the Governor’s executive order. It would appear that he is using the pretext of a fiscal emergency to try and exceed his executive powers to act as a legislative body and rewrite this year’s budget by making school aid cuts; raiding various funds; and authorizing additional spending. This is akin to imposing martial law, a far cry from his pledge of cooperation on Inauguration Day,” said Senate Majority Leader Buono (D-Middlesex).

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