Christie Signs 2016 Budget, But Issues Go Unresolved

TRENTON (AP) -

Four days before he’s expected to launch his presidential campaign, Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed a $33.8 billion budget Friday that provides New Jersey some stability but leaves unresolved how the state will pay for the public pension, fund a school-aid formula and replenish a transportation trust fund facing insolvency.

Christie used his veto pen to strip more than $1.6 billion from the 2016 budget approved by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and hailed the spending plan as a balanced budget that outlays $2.3 billion less than in 2008, before he came into office.

Christie contrasted his budget action with other potential primary opponents, specifically singling out Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker could be a White House contender.

“Today in New Jersey, four days early now that I’ve signed it, we have a budget. They don’t have one in Wisconsin, with a Republican Legislature and a Republican governor,” Christie said at a news conference.

His proposal slashed the Democrats’ pension payment to $1.3 billion from $3.1 billion. He also is allocating an additional $212 million toward the pension because of unexpectedly high revenue collection late in this fiscal year. And in one budget surprise, Christie is proposing an increase in the earned income tax credit, which helps low-income residents. The Assembly will return Monday to consider the suggestion, which could help 500,000 residents.