Through the use of his veto pen, Governor Christie is continuing to take the lead in responsibly managing state government while making the difficult choices to prioritize and fund essential services that New Jerseyans rely on.
· Vetoing Over $1 Billion In Irresponsible And Ineffective Tax Increases. Governor Christie continued to build on his record of protecting New Jersey taxpayers by vetoing over $1 billion in counterproductive tax increases that will only serve to drive families and businesses out of the state.
· Protecting Funding For Essential Services Despite Fiscal Challenges. Governor Christie took action to protect a host of critical and essential services including funding for schools, hospitals, universities, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and safety net programs.
· Protecting Critical Services And Investments While Paying Today’s Bills. The Christie Administration is making a $681 million payment to New Jersey’s pension funds that will cover the costs of benefits earned by active employees during the year but will not address the unfunded liability caused by decades of mismanagement by past administrations and legislatures.
Making A Pension Payment That Addresses Today’s Bills:
Governor Christie made the difficult but responsible choice to make a pension payment of $681 million in fiscal year 2015 which pays the costs of benefits earned by active employees – those currently working for the State of New Jersey – while maintaining programs and services New Jerseyans rely on.
This payment also keeps Governor Christie’s promise to retirees. State of New Jersey retirees will not see any impact to the benefits they are currently receiving.
Governor Christie Has Contributed More To The Pension System Than Any Other Governor In New Jersey History.
While this payment deals with this year’s pension costs, it does not pay down the debt – the unfunded liability – that has piled up over the past decades. However, Governor Christie is committed to returning to a regular pension payment schedule that the State can afford.
As Governor Christie has been making clear all year, unless New Jersey’s leaders make the choice to go further with reforms; pension, benefits and debt costs will overwhelm the State budget, monopolize resources, and threaten the investments and progress New Jersey has made over the past four years.
Protecting Funding For Essential Services Despite Fiscal Challenges:
New Jersey’s Schools, Our Students, and Our Higher Education Institutions
· Support For New Jersey’s Schools. Total direct State aid to schools will be over $12.9 billion. For the fourth year in a row, Governor Christie is setting a historic high for State spending for education.
· Resources for Higher Education Institutions and Students. Under the Governor’s budget, total State support is $2.32 billion, funding for 22,675 educators at New Jersey’s college and universities and supporting funding for student assistance.
· Funding For Tuition Aid Grants. After increasing funding by nearly $47 million in the last two years for Tuition Aid Grants (TAG), the fiscal year 2015 budget continues to expand resources for the neediest students with an additional $14 million to support a 2% across the board increase in award amounts for TAG recipients.
Investing in New Jersey’s Competitiveness While Fighting for Tax Relief
· Job-Creating Business Tax Cuts. The fiscal year 2015 continues to phase-in business tax relief which was passed in 2010 for a cumulative total of more than $1.6 billion in the fifth year of phase in for these bipartisan, job-creating business tax cuts to help businesses remain and grow in New Jersey. Since Governor Christie took office, New Jersey has added over 129,200 private-sector jobs, and the state has experienced positive overall job growth every year the Governor has been in office.
· Direct Property Tax Relief for New Jersey Families. Governor Christie is protecting relief to property taxpayers with an average Homestead Benefit of $516 for seniors and disabled homeowners with incomes up to $150,000, and an average benefit of $402 for all other homeowners with incomes up to $75,000.
Protecting Our State’s Most Vulnerable and Innovating for Higher Quality Care
· Reclaiming Lives by Integrating Substance Abuse Treatment with Employment Services. Going even further with the Governor’s commitment to help nonviolent offenders reclaim their lives through addiction treatment, the Christie Administration is devoting $1 million to support the integration of substance abuse treatment with employment services. Governor Christie further acts on his commitment by increasing funding by the $4.5 million necessary to continue the expansion of drug court treatment services.
· Reforming Charity Care Funding to Align With Need. The Christie Administration continues to transition to a new formula for the distribution of Charity Care that focuses on predictability, equitability, transparency and accountability. Hospitals will receive $650 million in Charity Care payments in fiscal year 2015.
· Investing in Managed Community-Based Care to Give Seniors Excellent Care Options. The Governor’s fiscal year 2015 budget includes $125 million to deliver high quality care through a new Managed Long Term Supports and Services system, allowing seniors to stay in their homes and communities rather than nursing homes.
· Medicaid Expansion to Broaden Access to Quality Health Care. Governor Christie’s expansion of health care for New Jersey’s most vulnerable is already having a positive impact on coverage for our state. The continued expansion of Medicaid will mean that more New Jerseyans at or near the poverty line will have access to critical health services, while saving New Jersey taxpayers approximately $200 million in fiscal year 2015 alone.
· Support for Uninsured Children. The Christie Administration has demonstrated its commitment to providing subsidized health coverage for uninsured children and has even been recognized for performance excellence in enrolling children in the FamilyCare program. Funding for children in FamilyCare is over $143 million, and will support coverage for over 182,000 children.
· Reaffirming Commitment to Individuals with Developmental Disabilities or Mental Health Issues.Governor Christie has long spoken of the State’s moral imperative to recognize the individuality and unique needs of every New Jerseyan with a developmental disability or mental health issue. The Governor’s budget increases funding by $109.3 million of combined State and federal funding for community placements and related services.
· Funding for the Senior and Disabled Citizens’ Property Tax Freeze. The $199.6 million included in the fiscal year 2015 budget will continue to provide benefits for over 152,000 current beneficiaries. It will also allow an expected 32,500 new seniors and citizens with disabilities to claim their first year of benefits.