New Jersey's Christie presses legislators on taxes

NEW YORK Sun Jul 1, 2012 2:14pm EDT

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks at the Friedman Prize dinner in Washington, May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks at the Friedman Prize dinner in Washington, May 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stepped up his state budget battle with Democrats by calling for a special session of the legislature on Monday to lecture his opponents on the need for middle-class tax relief.

The state's senate and assembly, both of which are controlled by Democrats, traditionally are in recess in July and August.

The move follows the Republican governor's signing of a $31.7 billion state budget on Friday that stripped out $361 million passed by the legislature for items including increases in legal services for the poor and in college tuition aid for low-income students.

A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said she has informed members of the governor's letter but would not comment on whether she planned to attend the special session.

"This much is clear," the spokesman wrote in an email. "The governor just vetoed tax relief for the working poor and has repeatedly opposed property tax relief for the middle-class amid his manic zeal to protect tax cuts for the mega-rich."

Senate President Steve Sweeney issued a statement over the weekend calling the first-term Republican governor's move "political theater" and saying that even if he got his way no tax breaks would be effective until 2013.

"While the last thing anyone wants in the middle of a heat wave is hot air coming from Trenton, we will be there," Sweeney said.

Christie has said that the Democratic budget plan will impose an $800 million tax hike on New Jersey residents.

His budget is the same size as the one he vetoed from lawmakers, but he said he would divert some of the appropriations they sought to build the state's surplus.

Christie said his budget calls for a $1 billion payment to the state's pension system and maintains a surplus in state coffers of more than $600 million.

In his letter to Sweeney and Oliver, Christie said he wants to press his objections in the special session to bills that "betray ... numerous commitments from legislative Democrats not to raise taxes."

(Additional reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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Comments (2)
policywhiz wrote:
I thought he was a tough conservative but I understand that he is going to go ahead and plan to implement the Obama Care Act. How disappointing that he will not stand firm against this government intrusion.

Jul 01, 2012 7:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
RangerDan wrote:
Until the republicans “get it” and by that I mean the only ones capable of pulling America out of its economic funk are the middle and working classes, we are destined to stay in this sustained downturn in our standard of living. The only group with enough buying power and pent up demand are the middle and working classes. They have pulled us out of every recession we have ever had, except this one. Why, because their wages have been stagnant far too long and the equity in their homes is long gone to borrow against. Giving more tax breaks to the already rich will do absolutely nothing (like it did last time). They won’t spend it, they already have everything they want. If Mitt’s plan is to stimulate our economy through further tax breaks to the rich, he and all of us will be sorely disappointed in the results.

Jul 01, 2012 9:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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