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S&P Turns Thumb Down On Christie Budgets, Downgrades Bond Rating

Schaer, the Assembly budget chairman, seized upon S&P’s credit downgrade as a warning that New Jersey can no longer afford to push off fiscal problems to future budget years.

“For five years, we in the Legislature have been handed budgets that have been constructed on unstable groundwork: with over-estimated revenue projections backed by one-shot funding sources that attempted to paper over ever-growing budgetary holes,” Schaer asserted. “And for five years, we have seen budgets enacted that mortgage our future to finance the present.

“Now, we are seeing major credit-rating agencies take note of these facts. The S&P credit downgrade, in no uncertain terms, tells us that the state’s fiscal can has become too heavy to kick down the road any further,” he said.

“If New Jersey is to ever climb out from under its mountain of debt, reverse our decaying credit rating, and join our neighbors in a sustained, vigorous economic recovery, then the governor and his administration needs to address the harsh budgetary realities staring New Jersey residents in the face and work together with legislative Democrats to address these issues,” Schaer continued.

Sarlo also urged the Christie administration to work with the budget committees “in a cooperative manner to provide full details on where the state stands financially, and how it reached its budget decisions. Only through an honest assessment of our fiscal circumstances can we ensure this cycle doesn’t continue.”

Roberts, Christie’s spokesman, noted that S&P’s decision to lower New Jersey’s credit ratings came “even with Gov. Christie’s historic bipartisan reforms to lower pension and health benefit costs and his commitment to make the two largest pension payments in history.”

He did not mention that the pension legislation was sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and passed with bipartisan support, as Christie has told audiences nationwide.

"In light of the negative effect of S&P’s action on New Jersey taxpayers, it’s time for the Legislature to come to terms with the reality of the problem and commit themselves to further reforms," Roberts concluded, presumably beginning with the passage of additional legislation to lower future pension and retiree health benefits.

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