NEW YORK, June 24 New Jersey's Democratic-led
state legislature approved on Monday a $33 billion budget deal
that avoids controversial new initiatives and tax cuts as
Republican Governor Chris Christie and the entire legislature
The bare-bones budget for the 2014 fiscal year that begins
July 1 closely mirrors the original budget blueprint proposed by
Christie. Only $55.6 million separated the two plans.
Democrats added $97.2 million to the governor's original
$32.9 billion proposal, though the modest increase was offset by
Democrats noted they restored education dollars to ensure
that all school districts had no less money on hand than last
year and money for nursing homes and cancer research.
"This budget does not accomplish all that we had hoped, but
by negotiating with the administration we were able to provide
much needed funding in areas critical to New Jersey's seniors
and our schools," Senate President Steve Sweeney said in a
The budget also included a $1.68 billion payment to the
state's public pension system - a near $650 million increase
over this year's payment.
Last year, Christie predicted a New Jersey comeback from the
recession. But the state's economy has lagged and was dealt a
major blow when Superstorm Sandy swept ashore in October.
Christie, who is more popular with state voters than any
other New Jersey governor in nearly 20 years, said his budget
was balanced and included no new taxes.