The following is a letter from Governor Corzine that I received in my inbox a few hours after he presented his budget to the State Legislature yesterday:
Today, I submitted my executive budget for the 2010 fiscal year to the people of New Jersey. I take this responsibility seriously, and though this is my fourth budget, I remain as committed to doing what’s right for the long-term economic health and prosperity of our state as I was when I submitted my first.
Because of the additional challenges facing our state brought on by the national financial crisis, I approached this budget with three primary objectives:
Protect education, health care and the state’s most vulnerable. I have proposed adding $300 to state aid for schools, $25 million in new aid for pre-k expansion and $149 million for Family Care. I’ve also proposed over $1 billion for 1 million New Jersey residents through direct property tax relief by insuring that Seniors receive the same property-tax rebates as last year, and preserving rebates for non-senior households earning $75,000 or less.
Allow New Jersey to remain ahead of the national economic crisis. This is my smallest budget since becoming Governor, with over $4 billion in cut spending. I have cut the operational costs of state government by more than $380 million, and reduced 850 line items, including proposed wage freezes and furloughs for state workers that will save our state hundreds of millions of dollars (because I believe that is a better to keep people employed and insured than on unemployment lines and Medicaid rolls). I have also asked the most fortunate in our society should pitch in, which is why I’m slightly increasing the income tax rate for the just-over 1 percent of New Jerseyans earning over $500,000.
Prepare NJ to capitalize when the national economy rebounds. My Economic Assistance & Recovery Plan introduced last fall, in partnership with the Legislature, provided relief for those that need it now, while dramatically improving the State’s business climate and creating a jobs program to pave the way for a better tomorrow. I have worked hard to bring fiscal responsibility to Trenton by eliminating gimmicks, implementing spending cuts and making government itself more efficient and affordable. As such, New Jersey is well positioned to deal with this national crisis, and when the tide begins to turn we will be able to quickly put people back to work and increase funding for the programs that we all value.
We anticipated this downturn last year and cut the budget last year by the largest amount ever, setting the table for this budget. I am proud that we have be able to balance the most difficult budget in state history without a broad-based income or sales-tax increase and without hurting the people hit hardest by the recession.
But this isn’t about me. This is about not shying away from the difficult decisions and doing what’s right for the families of New Jersey.
I have laid out a clear set of priorities for the state, and put us on a path that I believe will keep New Jersey ahead of the curve in handling the national financial crisis. I’ve had to make some tough calls to forge this honestly-balanced budget, but I believe that this budget maintains our core values as a State by ensuring that we continue to nurture our children, honor our seniors, and protect the most vulnerable among us.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, and reactions in the weeks ahead, and I thank you for your continued support.
Governor Jon S. Corzine