Senator Turner Statement On First Public Budget Hearing

NEW BRUNSWICK – State Senator Shirley K. Turner, D-Mercer, a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement on the first public hearing on Governor Corzine’s proposed FY 2009 Budget, which was held today in the Student Center at Rutgers University:

“Today was our first opportunity, as a Committee, to get feedback from the public on the Governor’s proposed Budget. While I believe that the committee understood before today that the FY 2009 budget is as painful a proposal as we’ve seen in a long time, today’s hearing put a human face on the cuts proposed.

“While the Legislature struggles over the next few months to reconcile the Governor’s proposal with the priorities and obligations of the State, I expect that we will try, as much as possible, to blunt many of the most severe cuts, while recognizing the fiscal realities we face in New Jersey. At the end of the day, this won’t be a pretty budget, but it will hopefully continue to provide funding for our most important obligations and put us on the right track to economic recovery.

“I’m concerned that we can do more, in terms of funding for higher education in New Jersey and property tax relief for overburdened taxpayers. The drastic cuts in higher education fail to recognize how great an investment a quality education can be for the future of the State. I also vehemently oppose cuts in property tax rebates for middle-income families who are struggling to meet the high cost of living in the Garden State.

“Furthermore, while I understand that government is going to be required to do more with less, I cannot support draconian layoffs which will only serve to move people off the State payroll and into welfare. Given the pending national recession and the crisis in the national job market, we need to be very careful how we tread when it comes to layoffs of rank-and-file State employees.

“Over the next few months, we’re going to face some very tough decisions in terms of balancing a budget which attempts to make up for years of fiscal irresponsibility. It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow. But at the end of the day, I hope we can adopt a budget which meets our obligations while putting us on the road to fiscal integrity.”