Category Archives: line item veto

Christie’s Cuts in Aid Imperil Moody’s Ratings for Six Cities

File this news brief under the title of “Collateral Damage” as a consequence of Governor Christie’s numerous line item vetoes of the budget that Democrats sent him last week and the Democrat’s unsuccessful efforts to override them.


By Elise Young – Bloomberg.com

Six New Jersey cities including the capital, Trenton, have their credit ratings under review for possible downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service after losing aid in Governor Chris Christie $29.7 billion budget.

The notice came hours after the Democrat-led state Senate failed yesterday to override Christie’s veto of $139 million in so-called transitional aid to some of the poorest cities.
Moody’s, in a report, said it placed Camden, East Orange, Passaic, Paterson, Trenton and Union City on a watch list and expected to finish its review within 90 days, a window during which the Legislature “may restore all or some of this aid.”
The company report called the aid loss a “credit negative” to those municipalities plus Bridgeton City, Harrison, Irvington and Prospect Park. “Credit negative” indicates Moody’s is more inclined to cut ratings.
The review of the six cities will involve a study of any plans to offset the loss of aid, which Christie cut to $10 million from $149 million for the fiscal year that began July 1.
“Given the magnitude of the adopted state-aid reductions and required process for implementing workforce reductions, we believe that city managers may be challenged to achieve the necessary savings quickly to prevent further financial decline,” according to the report.
Christie, 48, a first-term Republican, chopped almost $1 billion in budget items added by Democratic lawmakers, saying the state couldn’t afford the expenditures.
Most Downgrades
For Camden, with a Ba2 rating from Moody’s, or two steps below investment grade, transition aid of $69 million last year amounted to 38 percent of its spending plan. Paterson, with a Baa1 rating, or third-lowest investment grade, received $22.3 million last year, for 7 percent of its budget.
In May 2010, Moody’s lowered Trenton to A3, the fourth- lowest investment grade, after a previous Christie cut in aid. Communities in New Jersey, the second-wealthiest U.S. state, led the country in downgrades last year.
Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie, declined to comment. Andy Pratt, a spokesman for Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff, didn’t respond to an e-mail. Mark Albiez, chief of staff to Union City Mayor Brian Stack, who also is a Democratic state senator, didn’t return telephone calls. David Rousseau, a financial consultant to Trenton, didn’t respond to an e-mail….

Leave a comment

Filed under Bloomberg, credit ratings Camden, East Orange, Gov. Chris Christie, line item veto, Moody's, Passaic, Paterson NJ, Trenton, Union City

As A Matter Of Fact…1 in 6 New Jerseyans hit By Governor’s vetoes


From July 11th, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

By Raymond J. Castro, Senior Policy Analyst

One in six New Jerseyans will be adversely affected by line-item vetoes of two critical programs in the budget Governor Christie signed last week.

Today, the state Senate is expected to vote on restoring funding for those programs – the state Earned Income Tax Credit and NJ Family Care. Doing so, however, will require bipartisan support in order to achieve two-thirds majority.

The governor’s vetoes represented unprecedented cutbacks in state services and will affect more than 1.5 million residents, mostly low-income working families with children. Without these supports many parents will be unable to continue to work in low and moderate wage jobs that support their children in a state with one of the highest costs of living in the nation.

Last week the Legislature passed a state budget that fully funded these program. However the governor in New Jersey has considerably more power than governors in many states and has the discretion to delete any funds proposed for specific programs – or any “line item” in the budget. The only way that those funds can be restored is for the Legislature to vote to overturn each veto with a two-thirds vote.

When voting on each line-item, it will be important that legislators know what the impact is on people in their districts. New Jersey Policy Perspective has created an analysis to show the number of people, county by county, who will be affected by these two line item vetos, which were among dozens of vetoes by the governor.

Budgets reflect a state’s priorities. The public does not always know where individual legislators stand on those priorities because the budget is usually voted on in its entirety. That will all change today, and we hope that each lawmaker, regardless of party, recognizes just how devastating these cuts can be to wide numbers of New Jerseyans.

Leave a comment

Filed under As a Matter of Fact, budget cuts, children, Earned Income Tax Credit, Gov. Chris Christie, line item veto, low income families, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ FamilyCare, working poor

My9 Interview with Brenda Blackmon Featuring Ray Santiago, Candidate For NJ State Senate In District 11

Watch Ray Santiago’s interview on My9, which aired 7/10/11. He speaks about pension reform, the governor’s line item vetoes, his background, and his campaign!

Ray is running for State Senate in the newly formed 11th district against incumbent Republican Jennifer Beck. He will be on the ticket with running mates Vin Gopal and Marilyn Schlossbach who are seeking the Assembly seats in the same district.

MY9TV.COM – Political strategists Brendan Gill and Bill Spadea debate the Governor Christie’s line-item vetoes to the State Budget, as well as the war of words between Senate President Sweeney and the Governor over the cuts. Then, State Senate Candidate Raymond Santiago discusses his run for office and the issues that concern him the most. And as we turn to the economy, we hear about a bond program in Essex County that’s helping small business owners in the community.

http://www.my9tv.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=10588

New Jersey Now: July 10, 2011: My9TV.com

Leave a comment

Filed under 11th Legislative District, Gov. Chris Christie, health benefits and pension reform, Jennifer Beck, line item veto, Marilyn Schlossbach, my9news, Ray Santiago, Vin Gopal

As A Matter Of Fact…Budget vetoes: The scorpion and the frog

July 6th, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

By Mary E. Forsberg, Research Director

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

Replies the scorpion: “It’s my nature…”

This parable has many variations: the scorpion and turtle; the snake and dog; the viper and farmer. What each variation has in common is a bad actor, a character who can’t play fair, even if it means he might perish.

Those who are reading the press these days may recognize certain similarities with the current state of politics in New Jersey. And the Democratic leadership surely is croaking now.

It wasn’t a surprise that the governor wielded his ax against the Millionaires’ tax and women’s health programs. He did it before. He said he would do it again and he did it.

What was surprising, though, were the other cuts that had nothing to do with policy and everything to do with the very nature of his leadership. The cuts are unprecedented and go beyond any reasonable policy and fiscal considerations.

The Legislature

The budgets of the Executive office, the Legislature and the Judiciary have always been sacrosanct; a “gentleman’s agreement” has traditionally given each responsibility for its own budget and spending.

No governor before has chopped 41 percent from the Legislature’s staff salary accounts, but that’s exactly what the governor did. And he did it with a dose of venom, saying:

“The budget as adopted by the Legislature relied upon exaggerated revenue estimates, flawed assumptions concerning fund balances and ignored the harsh reality of its spending decisions. This reduction, among many others enumerated herein necessitated reductions of known surpluses, imprudent spending and other excesses.”

People who have noticed this salary cut haven’t made much of it. But the fact is, it has the potential to shift the balance of power in the legislative branch. Here’s how that works.

The salary accounts that the governor cut will not affect the salaries of legislators or those of their district office staff. The ones cut supported the Democratic and Republican legislative committee aides and the people who run the partisan staff offices in Trenton. Money for those salaries is appropriated to the Senate and Assembly in a lump sum and is divided based on which party is in the majority – the majority party (currently the Democrats) gets more of the money, has a bigger staff and has the larger suite of offices.

Unless the Legislature overrides this veto with a 2/3 vote (which would require the support of both parties), the staff of those offices will be significantly reduced. How these cuts are shared will be up to the majority Democrats in the Senate and Assembly. And as Assembly Speaker Oliver, a Democrat, was quoted as saying, “I’m certainly not going to shoot myself in the foot.”

Whether the governor understands this or not, a greatly reduced Republican partisan staff in Trenton is certainly a possible outcome of this line item veto.

Higher Education

Students and institutions of higher education felt the sting of the governor’s veto, which cut full-time and part-time Tuition Aid Grants (TAG) below even his own budget recommendation in March. He reduced the Democrats’ appropriation by $48.5 million, even though the amount in the Democrat’s budget was only $21.3 million more than his budget recommended.

In another unusual veto, the governor reduced the number of state-funded positions at each college by nearly 1,200 positions overall. This veto is an easy one to overlook and understanding it isn’t straightforward. What it means, however, is that the governor is reducing the state’s obligation to pay fringe benefits costs for these positions and is transferring those costs to the colleges – all without prior consultation and at the last minute. It is a backhanded way of again reducing the state’s responsibility for its higher education system. For Rutgers University and the Agricultural Experiment Station, this represents a 6 percent loss; for the other colleges, a 5 percent loss.

The veto message was again venomous. He blames the Legislature for this cost shift, saying:

“The Legislature’s failure to appropriately fund health benefit costs for all state employees necessitated a reduction in the state’s support of employee fringe benefits at all public institutions of higher education.”

Legal Services to the Poor

If you are poor in New Jersey and have a legal problem, save it until next year – maybe. Like the TAG scholarship, legal services will be significantly less than even what the governor proposed in his March budget.

His veto eliminated all state funding ($600,000) for the legal clinics at Seton Hall University Law School, Rutgers Newark Law School and Rutgers Camden Law School. In March he budgeted each of them for $200,000 apiece.

He also apparently took umbrage at the additional $5 million included by the Democrats in their budget for Legal Services of New Jersey, which provides legal services to poor people in civil matters. He cut that budget by $10 million – leaving Legal Services of New Jersey with a smaller budget than he recommended in March.

Cleaning up New Jersey

The Governor’s veto cut $18.8 million or 16 percent of the amount he recommended in March for Department of Environmental Protection programs that safeguard and preserve the state’s environment – for remediation of hazardous waste, underground storage tanks, monitoring water, and dealing with diesel pollution. Funding for these programs comes from a 4 percent constitutional dedication of corporate business tax (CBT) revenues. The effort by the governor and some in the Legislature to ensure that New Jersey is “open for business” by doing away with regulations and reducing corporate taxes means less money is available to protect New Jersey’s environment.

The moral of the budget

No one expected the governor to move away from his ideological position on funding health care for women or to abdicate his protection of the wealthiest in the state from the Millionaire’s tax, which would have added an additional 1.78 percent to their income tax bills this year.

But the veto message this year went beyond negotiation and fair play. There are consequences to every action. The scorpion’s sting meant death to both the scorpion and the frog. The consequences of this veto message are a less prosperous state and an increase in the chasm that separates the state’s wealthy from everyone else.

For a complete list of the governor’s line item vetoes, see the chart


Leave a comment

Filed under As a Matter of Fact, blog, Democrats, Gov. Chris Christie, line item veto, Millionaire'sTax, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ State Budget, veto override, women's health issues, working poor

Countdown: How Big a ‘Bully’ is Chris Christie?

If you haven’t been keeping up with Keith Olbermann since returning to the airwaves last month,you’ve been missing out on some good TV. Last night Olbermann ran a segment that addressed NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney’s recent outburst concerning Governor Christie use of the line-item veto to slash many provisions out of the Democratically crafted State budget.

Sweeney went ballistic on Friday, calling Christie every name in the book after learning of the cuts. Evidently Sweeney is feeling a little betrayed and let down by the Governor after delivering him his victory in the fight over pension and benefit reforms with state workers unions.

In the future, Stephen Sweeney should be a little more leery about who he intended to make a bed with. Once you decide to sleep with them, your soiled for life and it is hard to undo sleaziness of how you feel after.

After all, what did Sweeney expect from a big bully like Chris Christie? Once a bully, always a bully. Your either a friend or a foe, there’s no in-between. And Christie has made it very evident what he considers Sweeney to be. The problem for Sweeney however, is that many of his constituents around the state are also beginning to see where Sweeney stands on the issues and they don’t like it.

On Friday, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney called Governor Chris Christie a “bully” and a “rotten bastard.” And that wasn’t all. Keith talks with Evan McMorris-Santoro of Talking Points Memo about the political betrayal that set Sweeney off and what it reveals about New Jersey’s large-and-in-charge governor.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Leave a comment

Filed under Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Gov. Chris Christie, health benefits and pension reform, line item veto, NJ State Budget, public unions, Stephen Sweeney

>New Jersey Policy Perspective President Deborah Howlett’s statement on the FY2012 New Jersey state budget

>
July 1, 2011

Governor Christie’s profligate use of the line item veto on the state budget enacted by the Legislature this week did serious damage to virtually every constituency imaginable in this state – except for corporations and the super-rich.

Christie red-lined a litany of critical funding needs: health care for working families; tax credits for low-wage workers; after school programs for inner-city youth; legal counsel for indigent defendants; drugs for people with AIDS; college scholarships for gifted middle-class students; a resource center for Hispanic women; protective services for abused children; postpartum education; legal clinics; libraries; museums; mental health services; technology and even public television programming. The list is as long as it is damaging.

Unlike responsible governors in states such as Connecticut and California, Christie chose only to make cuts in services to balance the state budget. He refused to sustain the critical investments in New Jersey’s social infrastructure that have allowed all of its residents to enjoy a broadly shared prosperity.

The only winners in the governor’s budget are corporations that will continue to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax subsidies; those wealthy residents whose yearly income exceeds $1 million; and a governor who continues to choose partisan politics over sound public policy.

It’s now up to the Legislature to right these wrongs by over-riding the governor’s veto, line-by-line if necessary.

2 Comments

Filed under budget adoption, Gov. Chris Christie, line item veto, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ State Budget

>NJPP: In the end-game for the NJ state budget, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

>

June 20th 2011,

Dear Supporters,

Over the next two weeks – as the Legislature rushes to produce a budget that won’t drown in the ink from the line-item veto pen – we’re all too likely to fully realize the “new normal” that Governor Christie talked about when he proposed his budget four months ago.

It goes something like this:

Rich people and corporations get tax breaks.

The middle class will pay more.

We will all have to make do with less.

Instead of a balanced approach that includes revenues – like the courageous governor of Connecticut proposed – New Jersey’s budget relies only on cuts in services.

Instead of finding ways to invest in building blocks of a strong economy – schools, police, libraries, health care, parks, roads and bridges – the governor has dug in even further, promising to veto any tax increase, including a tax on millionaires’ incomes that has overwhelming public support. Even as state revenues start to rise a bit in the recession’s wake, the administration in Trenton insists we can’t afford:

Health care for working parents if they earn more than $115 a week.

Women’s health care at family planning clinics, even though it means missing out on federal matching funds, an increase in unintended pregnancies and higher costs to treat uninsured patients.

Maintaining the state Earned Income Tax Credit for working poor families, who have seen their taxes increase by $300 a year – the equivalent of a week’s wages – while the wealthiest got a tax cut.

Meanwhile, the state has found more than enough money to hand out $1 billion in subsidies and tax breaks for developers and corporations, including some of the most profitable businesses in the state. Extensive research and plain old common sense show that these giveaways don’t create jobs.

That’s where we come in.

As we have for 14 years, NJPP is shining a spotlight on important policy decisions with the goal of having a state government that promotes broadly shared prosperity for all New Jerseyans instead of picking winners and losers.

We’re proud to be a leading voice for fairness in New Jersey, using solid research and strategic communications to strongly advocate for those who have the smallest voices in the public arena – the poor, working families, the disabled and other vulnerable people in our society.

And we couldn’t do it without you.

NJPP’s generous supporters understand why our work is so important to the vision of New Jersey they want for themselves and their children.

You’ve received several emails from us in the past week highlighting our work.

Now, we are asking for your help.

Please click on the “donate” button below and give to NJPP today.

By contributing you will enable NJPP to keep digging deeper into tough policy issues and widely share our findings to make a difference in people’s lives. Every donation counts, whether it’s $1,000 to print and publish one of our reports or $50 to cover the cost of copying documents requested through the Open Public Records Act.

As you follow what’s going on in Trenton with the budget and other issues over the next couple of weeks, I ask that you keep in mind the work New Jersey Policy Perspective is doing and the role that you can play.

Together, we can create a “new normal” that lifts up every one of us, not just the privileged few.

Thanks so much for your support – past and future.

Sincerely,

Deborah Howlett, President

DONATE

Leave a comment

Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, line item veto, Middle Class, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ State Budget, OPRA requests, tax breaks for the rich, Uncategorized, women's health issues