By John Ostapkovich
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey governor Chris Christie today proposed a new state budget that aims to cut taxes and increase support for education.
Christie told a joint session of the state legislature that there were very hard choices in the first two budgets he presented. This time, he saw a little light in the $32.1-billion spending plan, which is 1.7 percent more than the current one.
It contains an income tax cut and more money in several key areas, including a massive payment into the public worker pension fund. And also, in contrast to Pennsylvania, more money for education — primary, secondary, and higher.
“We propose spending one of every three dollars in this budget on education,” the governor said in his address. “We’re putting our money where our mouth is on improving our children’s education” — a total of $8.8 billion in all.
The governor also put in a pitch for the higher education restructuring that, among other things, would see Rutgers-Camden merged with Rowan University — an idea that has drawn sharp resistance on the Camden campus (see related story).
Specifically, Christie is calling for a 10-percent income tax reduction with an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit that goes to the working poor. He says the spending plan is balanced without gimmicks or wild estimates, and he told lawmakers directly that higher taxes have hurt the state and he won’t settle for any increases.