Christie Addresses Budget Crisis, To Protests

Monday, March 15, 2010

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will lay out his plan for pulling the state out of its deep fiscal crisis on Tuesday, but it's already drawing protests.

The governor's budget will call for a nearly 10 percent roll back in overall state spending, including reductions in local municipal and school aid. Christie will address rising local property taxes by proposing a strict 2.5 percent cap on annual increases of municipal real estate levies that go mostly to fund public schools.

Public school teachers with the New Jersey Education Association plan to take their grievances to Governor Christie's Morris County hometown high school tomorrow, the day before his official budget address. Local officials have been told to prepare for 1,000 demonstrators.

The union takes issue with Christie's holding back $475 million in local school aid to close a $1.2 billion budget gap for the current year. Christie says he carefully targeted those cuts to districts that were carrying excessive surpluses.

Tuesday Christie will layout how he'll deal with next year's $11.2 billion budget gap on almost a $30 billion budget. Roughly 40 percent of the state budget goes to funding public schools. Local districts are facing a possible 15 percent cut in state aide.

Christie is legally bound by a deal Governor Corzine made with unionized state workers that grants them a guarantee of no layoffs this year in exchange for concessions on other benefits. Christie says the door is open however for layoffs from the ranks of non-union and part-time state workers.

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