Special Report: The Battle of the Budget

INTRODUCTION

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The battle over the budget in New Jersey this year promises to be one of the most contentious in modern state history, surpassed only by Democrat Brendan Byrne’s battle to pass the income tax almost 35 years ago, and perhaps by Democrat Jim Florio’s $2.8 billion tax increase 20 years ago.

Following a recession that’s considered the worst since the Great Depression, the state is now facing a huge budget deficit made even tougher due to a drop of federal aid from last year of $1.2 billion. What is likely to make the current budget battle even more contentious is that Republican Gov. Chris Christie is the first governor forced to pass a budget with both houses of the legislature controlled by the opposing party since Florio in FY1994.

With this as a backdrop, Gov. Christie is proposing a $2.8 billion cut in the actual state spending (both state and federal), including about $1.6 billion in the portion of the budget supported by state revenue. This which would be the largest such cut not only in dollars but also in percentage in modern state history.

This package of charts, some going back 12 years, is designed to provide perspective on some of the major spending and revenue issues in the budget.