Monday, June 30, 2014

Christie Acts Decisively To Balance NJ Budget

Gov. Christie Acts Decisively To Veto Over $1 Billion In Irresponsible Tax Hikes And Balance A 5th Consecutive Budget
Makes the Hard and Necessary Choice to Protect Essential Services for New Jersey Families

GOVERNOR CHRISTIE SIGNS BALANCED, RESPONSIBLE BUDGET THAT PUTS NEW JERSEYANS FIRST:  Governor Christie continues to protect taxpayers by vetoing over $1 billion in tax increases on families and businesses while doing what is necessary to protect investments and critical services relied on by our most vulnerable New Jerseyans.  This budget is consistent with Governor Christie's pledge not to further tax New Jersey's already overburdened taxpayers and to protect the essential services that are key to New Jersey's future - our schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and safety net programs.  At $32.5 billion, the Fiscal Year 2015 budget signed today is more than $1 billion lower than the budget sent to him by the Legislature and that spends $2.3 billion less than the Fiscal Year 2008 budget on items not related to public employee pensions, health benefits, and debt service.

Today, the Governor is:

·         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 Critical Services And Investments That Impact Quality of Life. The Governor is protecting a host of critical services including funding for schools, hospitals, universities, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and safety net programs.

·         Making  A Responsible Pension Payment That Pays Today’s Bills, Not The Sins Of The Past.  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 – those currently working for the State of New Jersey.  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.

THE NUMBERS DON’T LIE – UNSUSTAINABLE ENTITLEMENT COSTS CONTINUE TO SPIRAL OUT OF CONTROL NATIONWIDE: Despite the fact that Governor Christie has contributed more to the pension system than any other governor in New Jersey history, the debt accrued in the pension system remains an insurmountable issue without further reform.  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.

·        Over the last 4 years, 57% of all increased revenues the state has brought in have gone to pensions, health benefits and debt.
·        The New York Times: While More Than 40 States Have Taken Steps To Address Unfunded Liabilities, “None Have Come Close To Closing Their Pension Gaps Quickly Enough.” “More than 40 states have taken steps in recent years to rein in mounting public employee pension costs that threaten to strangle government services. But pension experts say that while some of those overhauls have whittled state shortfalls, even drawing upgrades from bond-rating agencies, many of them have simply deferred pension costs to the future. And none have come close to closing their pension gaps quickly enough to keep pace with a rapidly aging — and retiring — public work force.” (Rick Lyman & Mary Williams Walsh, “Public Pension Tabs Multiply as States Defer Costs and Hard Choices,” The New York Times, 2/24/14)
·        Across The Country The Total Unfunded Benefits Liability Has Grown From $3.1 To $4 Trillion Since 2009. “The clearest evidence that pension overhauls have fallen short is that the gap between the projected cost of the benefits and the money set aside to pay for them has continued to grow — to $4 trillion this year from $3.1 trillion in 2009, according to Joshua D. Rauh, a finance professor at Stanford University who has written extensively on public pensions but whose projections have been disputed by unions.” (Rick Lyman & Mary Williams Walsh, “Public Pension Tabs Multiply as States Defer Costs and Hard Choices,” The New York Times, 2/24/14)

MAKING THE CHOICE TO FUND CRITICAL SERVICES AND PRIORITIES FOR NEW JERSEYANS – Set against this landscape, the Governor is making the choice to fund the priorities that protect New Jerseyan’s quality of life and support the most vulnerable in our state.  The Governor’s budget continues to support essential services and investments in schools, hospitals, healthcare, drug treatment, colleges and universities, and care for our seniors and individuals with developmental disabilities. 

Governor Christie’s Budget Funds Essential Services and Investments While He Pursues Systemic Reform to Fix the Long-Term Fiscal Challenges of Unsustainable Pension & Health Benefit Costs

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, providing funding for 22,675 educators at New Jersey’s college and universities and supporting an increase in funding for student assistance.

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. 

o    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.

·         Building on 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, increasing the Governor’s commitment to $197.7 million in new funding for these programs since fiscal year 2013.

·         Continued Funding for the Senior and Disabled Citizens’ Property Tax Freeze. The $199.6 million included in the fiscal year 2015 budget will continue to allow benefits to grow 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.

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