Christie unveils N.J. budget plan with conditions

    N.J. Gov. Chris Christie has proposed a budget for the coming fiscal year that calls for the state to fund some property tax rebates and make a contribution to the pension system.

    The plan he unveiled Tuesday also carries some conditions.

    Christie says he’ll provide additional tax credits to poor, disabled and senior households only if the Legislature increases the amount public employees have to pay for their health-care coverage.

    “We can only afford this increase if health reform is passed. So let’s pass real reform this spring and use the proceeds to double the property tax relief for middle-class New Jerseyans and seniors,” he said.

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    Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan objected to Christie making property tax rebates dependent on requiring public workers to pay more for their health benefits.

    “If these proposals are strong enough, they should stand by themselves. The idea of playing one segment of New Jersey against another, which is in Governor Christie’s playbook, I thought was quite frightening,” said Cryan.

    Christie’s budget plan also includes $200 million in tax cuts for businesses.

    “This tax cut package, every dollar of it, is paid for with spending cuts. Responsibly changing New Jersey’s tax climate does not mean running deficits to cut taxes,” he said. “It means cutting taxes in a balanced budget to create job growth.”

    The governor proposes making a $500 million payment into the pension system if lawmakers enact changes requiring public workers to increase their pension contributions.

    Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said she was concerned that Christie is linking a payment into the pension system with swift legislative action on public worker pension reform.

    “Those payments have to be made regardless of any progression of negotiation or deal making with the Legislature,” she said.

    The budget increases education aid by $250 million, and maintains municipal aid at current levels.

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