NJ Budget Cuts Could Include Slashing School, City Aid - NBC New York

NJ Budget Cuts Could Include Slashing School, City Aid

Some $812 million in spending is being pared from the current fiscal budget



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    New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine

    Aid to cities and schools are on the chopping block as Gov. Jon S. Corzine unveiled his ideas on Monday for proposed cuts to help bridge the state's $2.1 billion budget gap.

    Some $812 million in spending is being pared from the current fiscal budget. The cuts affect everything from school breakfast programs and nursery inspection programs to mosquito control and equipment for state police.

    "I think everybody understands that financial conditions are about as serious as any the country has experienced since the 30s," Corzine told reporters during a budget briefing on Friday.

    Specifically, Corzine proposed cutting $15 million in aid to cities and towns and $75 million in K-12 public school money.

    The governor also wants to freeze state workers' wages, reduce the state's payment to a pension fund, and use surplus and rainy-day savings to plug the budget gap.

    Some cuts need legislative approval.

    The cuts are designed to keep the state government afloat during a deepening recession.

    The current round of cuts come even after an earlier round of $600 million was sliced from the budget. And Corzine has said the state's projected deficit could grow.

    Communications Workers of America's New Jersey Director, Hetty Rosenstein, said the unions would be unwilling to renegotiate their existing contracts.

    To do so would be unfair, she said, pointing out that state workers can't conversely benefit from years where there is a budget surplus.

    "If there was a great increase in revenues, we would not be able to go to the governor and say, we want more money," Rosenstein said.

    Corzine said layoffs and furloughs would be necessary without concessions from the unions.

    State Republican leaders who sued Corzine over claims he has not been as forthcoming as the law requires about state financial details, renewed their call for fiscal restraint.

    On Monday, Republicans circulated a press release they first handed out on Sept. 20, 2007, urging Corzine to follow the lead of New York CityMayor Michael Bloomberg and begin paring the budget in anticipation of a severe revenue collection fall off. The stock market has already begun to tank as the national mortgage foreclosure crisis took hold.

    Republicans also criticized Corrine's decision to delay introducing the fiscal 2010 budget until March 10.

    However, the governor defended his decision Friday.

    "I want to know in law what the federal stimulus package is, as opposed to speculating about it," he said.

    Corzine hopes President-elect Barack Obama's package will include at least $300 million in Medicaid aid for New Jersey.