Low-key N.J. budget plan expected from Christie

 New Jersey state capitol building in Trenton. (NewsWorks file photo)

New Jersey state capitol building in Trenton. (NewsWorks file photo)

Gov. Christie will deliver the final budget proposal of his time in office when he speaks at another joint session of the New Jersey Legislature next month.

Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo said the governor did not give many indications in his State of the State speech about any new policy proposals that might be included in the budget plan.

“Maybe in big tones, ‘Hey, we’re going to deal with school funding this year’ or ‘We’re going to make sure the TTF works,’ things of that nature, but he didn’t show his cards at all on the budgetary matters,” said Sarlo, D-Bergen. “So we’ll stay tuned for another month.”

Monmouth University political analyst Patrick Murray doesn’t expect Christie to urge bold new spending initiatives.

“I think the budget will probably be a couple of Band-Aids in order to keep the dike from bursting before he gets out of office in January of 2018,” Murray said. “I think it will probably be driven by the Democrats in the Legislature in terms of, if there is any major policy change or shifts, it will come from them.”

Murray said Democrats who control the Legislature may be more concerned with how they’ll deal with the next governor.

“Leaders in the Legislature want to maintain their leadership status,” he said. “So, they’re jockeying to figure out how they can maintain that in the context of putting out a couple of new items that they think will lead them in to the next term, which they hope is a Democratic governor.”

Christie hinted in his State of the State speech that he’ll propose more changes to the public employee pension system in February, but Senate President Steve Sweeney said the governor indicated what those changes might be.

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