As lawmakers prepare to scrutinize NJ spending plan, Senate leader sets agenda

 New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney says one of his top priorities in the budget discussions is replenishing the Transportation Trust Fund that pays for road and bridge repairs. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney says one of his top priorities in the budget discussions is replenishing the Transportation Trust Fund that pays for road and bridge repairs. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey lawmakers will start holding public hearings this week on Gov. Chris Christie’s state budget plan.

Senate President Steve Sweeney said one of his top priorities in the budget discussions is replenishing the Transportation Trust Fund that pays for road and bridge repairs.

“There’s been a lot of suggestions by Democrats on how to solve this thing, and, obviously, none of them are popular and all we hear from Republicans is we don’t like that,” he said. “My challenge to them is, what is their plan?”

Lawmakers will also examine possible ways of coming up with the money to make a full contribution into the state pension system that would be $1.6 billion more than Christie has proposed.

“One area honestly is a millionaires’ tax, and you’ve heard it over and over again,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “It’s $660 million … $660 million is $600 million closer to closing the hole, and then you’ve got to look through the budget and hopefully you can find [other] areas.”

Christie has repeatedly vetoed attempts by the Legislature controlled by Democrats to enact that tax surcharge.

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