As hearings continue on N.J. budget plan, Christie says he looks for negotiation

Gov. Chris Christie is hoping to avoid a major budget battle with the Democrats who control New Jersey’s Legislature.

State lawmakers are in the process of holding several weeks of hearings on the governor’s proposed $32 billion budget.

Christie said Wednesday when those hearings are over, he’ll meet with legislative leaders in hopes of reaching a budget agreement.

“I would much rather negotiate a budget that we can agree on and that we can get bipartisan support for — as we did in our first year — than to do it as we did it in our second year where the Legislature passes a Democratic only budget and then I use the line-item veto pen to bring it to fiscal sanity,” he said.

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Assemblyman Vinnie Prieto, chairman of the budget committee, says Democrats in the Legislature are concerned about property tax relief and are carefully examining the spending plan.

Prieto, D-Hudson, said he hopes to reach a compromise in budget negotiations with the governor after the hearings are over.

“It’ll be a give and take that, hopefully, we get to a middle ground,” he said. “I expect to see us having a balanced budget to the governor’s desk for him to sign by July 1.”

That dovetails with Christie’s goal of having a new budget will in place by the July 1 start of the new fiscal year. No one wants a government shutdown, he said.

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