New Jersey Governor Chris Christie proposed a $29.3 billion budget that would suspend property-tax rebates, skip the state’s $3 billion pension contribution and fire 1,300 workers next year.
The plan would reduce aid to schools by $820 million, towns by $446 million and higher education by $173 million. Christie, a Republican who took office Jan. 19, also called for a constitutional amendment that would limit annual growth in the state’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes to 2.5 percent.
“Today, we stop sweeping problems under the rug,” Christie, 47, said during his first budget address to a joint session of the Democrat-led Legislature in Trenton. “We will not hide our problems until another day. And we are certainly not increasing the tax burden we place upon our people.”
Christie pledged not to raise income, sales or corporate taxes to close a record $10.7 billion deficit in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. His plan, which includes $28.3 billion in state spending and $1 billion in federal aid, is 9 percent lower than the budget for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.
Bagger said the state would save $848 million by suspending the property tax rebate program this year and then giving homeowners direct credits on their bills beginning in May 2011.
Another $50 million would come from an unspecified plan to have some government functions run by private companies. Christie last week said he may privatize some state jobs in 2011 amid rising costs for employee salaries and benefits.
New Jersey would skip its full $3 billion pension payment, under Christie’s plan. The system was underfunded by $46 billion as of 2009 because of investment declines and a failure to make full contributions, according to annual financial reports.
“Our pension system must be reformed before we can or should fund a broken, out-of-control system,” Christie said.