Reporting Levon Putney
TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has taken a red pen to a $30.6 billion state budget the Democratic-controlled Legislature sent him Wednesday, striking items he viewed as unaffordable before signing the document into law.
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Christie’s signature on the budget hours before the start of a new fiscal year means a shutdown of nonessential government services has been averted. The governor’s cuts reduced the budget plan to $29.7 billion.
The New Jersey governor said that he “aggressively used the line-item veto and the absolute veto” on the budget because it was “what I had to do to make it constitutional.”
“This is not something I relish doing, but it’s my constitutional responsibility to sign a constitutional budget,” he said.
Despite signing the budget, Christie harshly criticized the Democratic legislature, saying they were reverting “to more of the same unrealistic, fantasy budgeting that has plagued Trenton for years.”
“They’ve decided to deceive the citizens of the state with a budget that makes them look like Santa Claus in an election year. How shocking — politicians deceiving and pandering to voters to get re-elected. I was sent here to end this politics and usual,” Christie said.
Democrats had earlier rejected the budget the Republican governor proposed and adopted their own version. It was about $1 billion higher than Christie’s plan.
Christie said the Democrats’ budget was unlawful because it overestimated the amount of tax revenue the state is likely to collect. Democrats insisted their plan was lawful and defended it as more compassionate than Christie’s proposal.
The majority party can attempt to override any of the appropriations the governor vetoed, but they need a few Republican votes to succeed.
No Republican in either house voted for the budget or a separate two-year tax increase on millionaires sent to Christie.
The Democrats’ budget added funding for public schools, the working poor and communities experiencing crime increases. Republicans clobbered the plan as “pie-in-the-sky, fantasy budgeting,” and said Democrats, in typical fashion, were spending beyond the state’s means.
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