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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Corzine suggests huge cuts

Gov. Jon S. Corzine presented his 2009 budget proposal yesterday to a packed and nearly silent New Jersey Assembly room, outlining a budget with highlights that included the elimination of 3,000 state jobs and the departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Personnel, and spending cuts of $500 million compared with the previous fiscal year's budget.

“The time is long part for the state, its governor, and its legislature to end imprudent spending and borrowing that exceeds our means,” said Gov. Corzine. “This budget does just that.”

The budget not only eliminates the three departments, but reduces spending in every department of the state’s executive branch, which is something that Gov. Corzine said has never happened before.

With real spending cuts of $500 million, the budget has a total spending cut of around $2.7 billion, which is designed to offset uncontrollable inflationary costs of healthcare, contractual, and energy costs.

Cuts to property tax relief would eliminate tax rebate checks to more wealthy New Jersey homeowners, although the rebates are preserved in the new budget proposal for 90 percent of homeowners.

A majority of those will receive the same rebate checks they received last year, around $1,000.

Smaller municipalities, especially those with populations of less than 10,000, face cuts to state aid, with a total of $190 million of cuts to the state’s municipal aid funding.

Gov. Corzine said Wednesday that he will continue pushing his toll hike scheme, despite overwhelming public opposition to a plan that would eventually raise current tolls by 800 percent, while a highway management entity would use that money to pay back a massive bond issue.

The bond issue money would go to both paying down half of New Jersey’s $32 billion state debt and refunding the Transportation Trust Fund, set to run out in 2011.

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