New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called for a special session of the Democratic-led Legislature to pass his proposed tax cut, which he said lawmakers “held hostage” in the $31.7 billion budget approved this week.
Christie, a first-term Republican, said in a statement he has sent a letter to Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, both Democrats, notifying them of the session. Christie said he plans to address a joint session of the Senate and Assembly at 11 a.m. on July 2.
In his February budget address, Christie called for a 10 percent income-tax cut across the board. He later agreed with Democrats on a plan to give residents property-tax credits. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo, a Democrat from Wood-Ridge, said his party opted to delay the credits until later in the year, conditional upon revenue meeting expectations.
“The budget, which contained billions of dollars in spending, failed to address the single issue that strikes at the heart of our shared interests, and our continued prosperity,” Christie, 49, said in the letter, according to a statement released today by his office. “Lowering the tax burden on every New Jersey resident is a matter of unique and critical interest that demands our immediate and full attention.”
The governor vetoed $361 million in spending initiatives added on by Democrats when he signed the spending plan in Trenton. New Jersey law allows governors to call the Legislature into session when they deem doing so is “in the public interest.”
Democrats in their budget stuck closely to the revenue and spending targets outlined by Christie and set aside $183 million in the state’s rainy day account to cover property-tax credits.
“We presented the governor with a budget committed to providing middle-class tax relief, and regardless of the governor’s political theater no tax breaks will even go into effect until 2013,” said the Senate’s Sweeney in a statement this afternoon. “While the last thing anyone wants in the middle of a heat wave is hot air coming from Trenton, we will be there.”
The legislature’s top budget analyst has said tax collections may drop as much as $1.4 billion below Christie’s original targets through the end of next fiscal year, double a revised figure from Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff.