New Jersey budget hearings continue

 Assembly Budget Committee(Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Assembly Budget Committee(Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey lawmakers are considering where to make adjustments as they continue a series of hearings into Governor Christie’s proposed state budget.

Assembly Budget Committee chairman Gary Schaer says New Jersey residents are frustrated that the state’s debt is increasing, and there are still questions about meeting some vital needs including the transportation trust fund.

“They’re not getting answers to understanding what is the goal, what is the plan, except living hand to mouth for the next day or week or month at best.”

Schaer says that the budget does not address or resolve a number of important issues including “transportation trust fund, education” and “higher education.”

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Declan O’Scanlon, the ranking Republican on the budget committee, says there should be enough revenue to maintain existing state services.  He says a major concern for lawmakers is the revenue needed to make the state’s contribution into the public employee pension system and considering a possible restructuring of the system to deal with billions of dollars in unfunded pension liability.

“There are always people that consider themselves under served. Many of them are right, but we have to balance out the services we provide and the impact on taxpayers.”

The state constitution requires a balanced budget to be enacted by the end of June.

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