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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie used his line-item veto power to rip the legislature-approved budget to shreds earlier this month. New Jersey Policy Perspective put it best when stating that Christie’s numerous vetoes “did serious damage to virtually every constituency imaginable in this state – except for corporations and the super-rich.”
As expected, he shot down a proposed tax on New Jersey millionaires who make up only .2 percent of all taxpayers in the state. At the same time, he refused to restore the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit to previous levels, which, at a cost of only $50 million, was no-brainer strategy to provide much needed assistance to struggling low-income working families.
He also stripped away hundreds of millions of dollars for schools, aid to local governments, health care for working families, legal assistance for low-income individuals, and other critical programs.
New Jersey Senate Democrats are meeting this week to attempt to override Christie’s spending cuts, however, they have been unsuccessful in gaining enough Republicans to join them and so far the vetoes stand. They have yet to tackle the millionaires’ tax and Earned Income Tax Credit, but given that members are sticking to party lines, there is no realistic chance of restoring either of them.
The New Jersey Assembly Democrats are taking a different approach. They first announced a plan to hold a series of hearings over the summer on Christie’s vetoes and wait to schedule override votes until the fall, hoping to gain some Republican support along the way. But, by law, if an override vote fails in the Senate, the Assembly cannot take up a vote on that same issue.
Despite the fact they are essentially powerless now in overturning Christie’s vetoes, Assembly Democrats are still planning to hold hearings starting next week on the impact of the cuts on children’s programs. In a statement announcing the hearings, Assembly Budget Chair Lou Greenwald said, “The impact of these cuts demand immediate attention, and we’re committed to trying to find a way to make sure these programs continue to serve children suffering through horrific cases of abuse, illness and poverty.”