Budget review process begins in New Jersey

New Jersey lawmakers are continuing to examine Gov. Chris Christie’s $32.9 billion budget plan. They’ll be holding a series of hearings over the next few weeks to hear from the leaders of the various state departments.

Assembly Budget Committee chairman Vinnie Prieto expects many of the state commissioners will focus on the recovery from Superstorm Sandy, but issues affecting all areas of the state also need attention.

“A lot of the departments, I know that they’re going to come in and it’s going to be a Sandy focus,” he said. “I know that’s important and it’s one of the right things, but I think this budget needs to be about the whole state and everything encompassing.”

Prieto says he wants to hear how the department heads might make adjustments to the proposed budget.

“If they think that they need to have cuts, what will those be?” he said. “They can restructure it internally, but we’ll keep an eye on that to make sure that the proper programs are funded.”

Prieto, D-Hudson, says the Democratic leadership wants to make sure that programs that help the middle class are maintained in the budget.

He says these are still tough fiscal times and doubts whether there will be major changes to Christie’s budget plan.

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