Christie to Veto Every Spending Bill Until Tax Cut Passes

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican who faces re-election next year, said he will veto every spending bill that reaches his desk until Democratic lawmakers approve a tax cut.

New Jersey can reduce taxes, the governor said today at a business group luncheon in Cherry Hill.

“They’ve got the money to lower your taxes,” Christie said. “All they need to do is cut spending.”

Christie, 50, has traveled the state pushing for a tax cut. Democrats, who control both houses of the legislature, have said they won’t agree until they know revenue will meet Christie’s forecasts. His predictions have been called optimistic by Standard & Poor’s, which lowered the state’s credit outlook to negative from stable on Sept. 18.

Tax revenue in July and August, the first two months of the fiscal year, was 4.9 percent below targets set in Christie’s $31.7 billion budget, the state Treasury Department said on Sept. 19.

New Jersey’s revenue must rise 8.2 percent to balance Christie’s fiscal 2013 spending plan and make up for a tax shortfall in the year ended June 30, the legislature’s chief budget officer said on Sept. 19.

Falling Short

Christie had forecast a revenue gain of 7.2 percent, the second-most optimistic projection after California, according to the treasurer’s office. That growth rate would leave Christie’s budget $258 million short, according to David Rosen of the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services.

The governor had initially proposed a 10 percent income-tax cut for every New Jersey resident over three years. Democrats said that plan favored the wealthy and ignored residents’ property-tax burdens.

Christie and Senate Democrats agreed on a plan that would provide an income-tax credit of as much as 10 percent of property-tax bills for households earning less than $400,000 a year. Democrats then delayed the tax cut until midway through the fiscal year to see whether revenue reaches Christie’s targets.

Democrats control the Senate, 24-16, and the Assembly, 48-32, short of the two-thirds majority needed to reverse a veto.

Christie said he’s targeted almost three dozen bills currently pending in the Legislature that would entail new spending. Ticking off a list of measures he opposes, Christie cited one by Assembly Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto, a Democrat from Secaucus, that would reimburse towns $6 million to cover lost revenue due to tax-exempt cemeteries.

He called such measures, including another one that would offer grants to build kitchens at daycare centers, “hypocritical.”

Tom Hester, a spokesman for Prieto, said in an e-mail that the bills cited by Christie have been introduced and haven’t advanced. Among the targeted bills by Christie would be stronger domestic-violence laws, business-tax credits aimed at creating jobs and veterans’ programs.

New Jerseyans are suffering under Governor Christie’s net 20 percent property-tax hike and 9.9 percent unemployment, so this continued disregard is the last thing they need from Governor Christie,” Hester said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Trenton at tdopp@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net

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