Gov. Chris Christie took a red pen to a $30.6 billion state budget submitted by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, striking line items he viewed as unaffordable before ultimately signing the document into law.
Christie's cuts reduced the budget plan to $29.7 billion, and the governor's signature on the spending plan averted a potential shutdown of nonessential government services.
The new fiscal year starts Friday. Democrats rejected the budget the Republican governor proposed and approved their own version, which was about $1 billion higher than Christie's plan.
Christie said the Democrats' budget was unconstitutional because it overestimated the amount of tax revenue the state is likely to collect. Democrats insisted their plan was lawful and defended it as more compassionate than Christie's proposal.
That left Christie with a few choices: a line-item veto to strike out spending that he didn't agree with or felt the state couldn't afford, or send the budget back to the Legislature for more work.
In announcing the line-item veto Thursday, Christie accused the Democrats of "going back to the future.''
"It's time we learn from past mistakes, instead of repeating them over and over,'' Christie said.
The majority party can attempt to override any of the appropriations the governor vetoed, but they'll need a few Republican votes to succeed. Some Republicans said they are reluctant to vote for a budget that contains $447 million in added aid to 31 poor schools that the state Supreme Court ordered.
No Republican in either house voted for the Democratic-sponsored budget or a separate two-year tax increase on millionaires sent to Christie.
The Democrats' budget added funding for public schools, the working poor and communities experiencing crime increases. Republicans clobbered the plan as "pie-in-the-sky, fantasy budgeting,'' and said Democrats, in typical fashion, were spending beyond the state's means.