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Sweeney Says Budget Puts State On Right Course

TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Stephen M. Sweeney today said the State budget for the new fiscal year “begins a process of accountability and integrity” which reflects tough economic times and the need for efficiencies at all levels of government.

Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland, made his comments as Governor Corzine enacted S-2009/A-2800 which provides funds for maintaining government operations beginning July 1.

“When the partisan sniping is done, the people of New Jersey will still see a spending plan that’s $600 million less than the budget enacted last June. We applied nearly $1 billion of excess revenues from this year to reduce debt, fund capital projects and repay previous Unemployment Fund diversions.

“It’s easy to criticize, but the reality is we acted on our commitment to erase the structural gap between recurring revenues and recurring spending. This budget provides $650 million to reduce the State’s debt and save at least $135 million in debt service spending per year for the next five years.

“We had to make painful cuts, but this budget provides more than $11.5 billion for school aid, an increase of nearly $600 million under the new school aid formula. That’s spending, yes, but it’s also local property tax relief.

“Governor Corzine deserves credit for encouraging us to restructure the direction of government by making it more efficient while remaining responsive to our core government obligations to educate our children, protect our families and care for our most vulnerable.

“There’s no doubt we have to maintain the pressure to continue our needed reforms to preserve our pension system for when it’s needed and to reduce the cost and size of government overall.

“But we managed this year to eliminate Medicaid co-pays, to restore most municipal aid to smaller towns and to keep the parks open.

“I also want to commend the work in the Senate of our budget committee chair, Senator Barbara Buono, and our leader, Senate President Codey, who kept us focused on the needs of taxpayers, both now and into the future.”