Governor Chris Christie unveiled a proposed budget of $32.15 billion Tuesday for fiscal year 2013 that would increase spending by $2 billion over the 2012 plan approved last June.
The 2013 plan calls for increases to school funding, relatively flat funding to municipalities, a $1.1 billion payment into the state pension fund, a 10% income taxcut phased in over three years for all residents, $350 million for small business tax relief, and $280 million over two years to expand the state Earned Income Tax Credit for the lowest earners.
Local reaction thus far is mixed.
Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca applauded some aspects of the Governor's proposed budget while criticizing others.
"There are a few positives in the governor's budget including a $200+ million increase in school aid and a hike in the earned income tax credit, which he cut two years ago," wrote DeLuca in an email message to Patch. "The 6% increase in higher ed support will help middle and working class students and the funding of a drug court is a good idea. I like the establishment of the Division on Aging and the increase in the state's pension contribution."
However, DeLuca differed from the Governor on other aspects of the budget: "Where I think the Governor is off track is on the income tax cut. He should be prioritizing the regressive property tax system rather than reducing a progressive tax. In my 12 years in office, no one has ever showed me their pay stub and said the state income tax is too high. On the other hand, hundreds have pulled out their property tax bill and said they pay too much. The Governor is focusing his cuts on the wrong taxes. We have flat funding for municipal aid and tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthiest. It does not make sense. I hope the legislature will adjust this budget to provide more relief for property taxpayers."
Also weighing in on the proposed budget was Assemblyman John F. McKeon (27th District) who represents Maplewood and several other towns in Essex and Morris counties. McKeon is the lead sponsor of the Millionaire's Tax measure (A-1993) which would levy an estimated 1.7 percent surcharge on income above $1 million.
On Tuesday, McKeon said he felt that the Governor's proposed tax cuts would benefit millionaire's most while delivering "minimum relief to New Jersey's already overburdened middle class families."
"For two years, this Governor left the middle class and the working poor to disproportionately shoulder the burden of the difficult economic times," said McKeon in a prepared statement. "In year three, he is not only refusing to ask millionaires to be part of the solution, but proposing to hand them a windfall cleverly disguised as middle class tax relief."