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Christie: $800 Million Budget Shortfall Cold Mean Cuts, Property Tax Rebate Delays

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A huge budget shortfall could force the Christie administration to make painful cuts in state programs in New Jersey.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, the shortfall amounts to $800 million, and when it comes to plugging the hole, Gov. Chris Christie said, “I will consider everything.”

The shortfall could lead to program cuts, and a delay in rolling out property tax rebates.

Christie said he has not decided where to make the cuts, but has asked his staff to give him a list of options.

“There will be priorities, and my priorities — I hope — will be similar to what the priorities of the people New Jersey are,” Christie said.

Democrats have blasted the Christie administration’s revenue projections for April, the month when residents file their yearly income tax returns.

“I just think they were a lot more optimistic that we were rebounding from the recession. New Jersey is lagging behind most of the nation in rebounding from the recession,” said state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge.)

But Christie blamed Washington, saying agreements in Congress last year raised taxes on the wealthy – which states such as New Jersey and Connecticut heavily rely upon for their source of revenue.

“When you keep rates on the top taxpayers, and all the taxpayers, as high as you’re keeping them, and then you try to raise them again, people will change their behavior to avoid it,” Christie said.

Whatever the case, the situation now amounts to a crisis, according to Sarlo.

“We’re concerned. Many difficult decisions have to be made in a short period of time,” he said.

Christie has just two weeks to make a decision. The state budget has to be balanced by the end of June.

Christie said he will try to work with Democrats, but if they not cooperate, he will do what he has to do.

Democrats said cuts in school aid are highly unlikely, since most districts have already adopted their budgets.

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