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.

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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