Video & Full Text: Governor Chris Christie’s FY 2013 Budget Address

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Chris Christie’s Fiscal Year 2013 Address is on the books, Save Jerseyans.

The class warfare-waging Trenton Democrats may not like it, but the centerpiece of this year’s speech is a 10% across-the-board income tax cut. Governor Christie’s budget also includes $200M more for education, doubling our state pension contributions, an overall spending increase of 1.7% but zero new tax levies.

Did you miss it? Watch the entire speech archived below; if you prefer, read the full text of the speech below the fold:

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Governor Chris Christie’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Address As Prepared for Delivery

Trenton, New Jersey

February 21,2012


Lieutenant Governor, Mr. President,Madam Speaker, members of the Legislature, distinguished guests, formerGovernors, and citizens of the State of New Jersey:

It is my pleasure, and my duty, topresent to you my budget for the year ending June 30, 2013.

Two years ago, when I entered thischamber for the first time, the fiscal condition of our state was as dire as ithad been for decades.  Hope was low.  Pessimism seemed like a permanentstate of mind.  My thoughts wandered back to my inaugural – to why Iwanted this job in the first place.  On Inauguration Day, I said, “I askedto serve, because I believe we can do it.”

I did believe, even in those difficultdays, that real leadership could turn New Jersey around.  In those darkerdays of recession, we began our journey together toward the New Jersey Comebackwith some hard choices, some very hard choices.  We took those first stepstogether – we knew what we had to do.

We had to get our budget undercontrol, and so we cut spending – not spending growth, but the actual dollarsspent by state government – two years in a row.  We were able to preserveand fund essential priorities, but it was the first time in decades that realspending had actually been cut two years in a row.

As you know, we took other steps aswell – reforming pensions and health benefits and capping the growth ofproperty taxes and the interest arbitration awards that drive them.

There was one more thing we needed tobegin the turnaround of the state we love.  We had to feel good aboutourselves again.  We had to believe in each other again.  We had todig down deep into our well of Jersey strength and restore ourconfidence.  To do this for our state and for each other, there were twoindispensible elements – leadership and truth. 

Both require courage.  Both mustcome from what we feel from within.  Both could lead us to betterdays.  For those of you in this chamber, and you know who you are, whogave both to our state and its citizens – I say thank you.  To themillions of New Jerseyans who gave both to our state – I am in your debt. To those who have yet to give, there is good news.  It is not too late –because the New Jersey Comeback has just begun.  Resolve today to join usin the tough choices which leadership and truth inexorably lead us to and joinus now.  End the nay saying – join us to accelerate the New JerseyComeback this year.

I said at the time that these toughchoices would pave the way for better ones in the future.

You see, because our previous toughchoices have indeed made a difference.  Those budgets for Fiscal Year ‘10and Fiscal Year ’11 were balanced – without raising taxes.  Since I tookoffice, we as a state have added nearly 60,000 private-sector jobs. And 2011was the best year of job growth since the year 2000 and places New Jersey inthe top third among the states.

In these last two years, we have begunto move our unemployment rate in the right direction – down, from 10.1% when I wassworn in to 9% today.

Today, it is time to continue makingthose better choices.  Today, we will both maintain our fiscal discipline,and drive New Jersey into a new era of growth.  Today, it is time to putthe New Jersey Comeback into high gear.

I am presenting to you my budget forthe Fiscal Year 2013.  The budget I propose would total $32.1 billion forthe coming fiscal year.  While this represents minimal growth from lastyear, it is still below the level of state spending when I took office. This is in sharp contrast to the increase in state spending of 56% thatoccurred in the seven years between 2001 and 2008. 

This budget funds key priorities inorder to accelerate job growth and to meet our most urgent needs.  Most importantly,it does not raise taxes, and it is truly balanced.

Because we have made the tough choicesin these last two years, we can make the right ones now.

In this budget: I propose that weprovide tax relief to every New Jersey citizen – through the first year of anacross-the-board 10% cut in their income taxes; and increasing the EarnedIncome Tax Credit for the working poor.  The people of New Jersey havesuffered for too long under the burden of high taxes, it is time for realrelief.

I propose that we increase school aid,for the second year in a row, by over $200 million, to $8.8 billion, a recordamount of state aid to education.  There is no priority more importantthan educating our children, so let’s reform our schools and give them the toolsto be great.

I propose that we more than double thestate’s contribution to our pension system.  Last year, we enactedlandmark reform that showed the nation that we can come together on abi-partisan basis to manage our long-term liabilities.  In my budget, thestate will make good on its obligation to fund our pension system.

I propose that we continue to reformand repair the programs of state government to better engage and serve NewJersey’s most vulnerable citizens.

 Let me cover these areas one at atime.

First, any job growth plan for NewJersey has to start with cutting taxes.  As everyone in this room knows,or should know, New Jersey raised state taxes and fees 115 times in the eightyears before I became Governor.  Government abused the taxpayers of NewJersey because government refused to control its own appetite forspending. 

We are in a competition for jobs withother states.  Some other states, like New York and Connecticut, areraising income taxes that will drive businesses out.  New Jersey shouldchoose responsible tax cuts to give overburdened citizens relief and helpbusinesses grow jobs.

Our tax rates, and our overall taxburden, were also the worst in the region.  And the effects were beingfelt:  a study by scholars at Boston College found that $70 billion ofwealth had left the state in the prior five years.  That exodus hurt jobs,economic growth and yes, even state tax revenues.

Our standing in the last two years hasimproved somewhat – but not enough.  We have stopped spending growth inits tracks.  We have eliminated the special surtax that for a time gaveNew Jersey the highest marginal tax rate in the nation – and I am proud to havetwice vetoed the effort to re-introduce it.  And just so there is nomistake in my intention:  I will veto any tax increase again.

The property tax cap that you passedand I signed into law has worked.  A recent study showed that in 2011 NewJersey had the lowest property tax growth in 20 years.  Communities havehad the right to override the cap, but the overwhelming majority has chosen notto.

 The people have spoken, and they wantlower taxes.

So in this budget, I have included theproposal I outlined for you a few weeks ago in the State of the Stateaddress.  I propose to reduce personal income tax rates, across-the-board,for every New Jerseyan, by 10%, and I propose to begin the three-year phase-inof the cut with this budget.

A 10% tax cut for every working NewJerseyan will help families to keep more of what they earn.  It will make usmore competitive with other states and attract more new jobs to NewJersey.  Every New Jerseyan deserves a tax cut.

Lower tax rates will relieve over-burdened middle class families.  They will keep job creators here. They will begin to bring us into a more competitive situation with ourneighbors in the region.  For make no mistake, even with the 10% cut thatI propose, our tax rates in many brackets will still be higher than New York’s,higher than Connecticut’s, higher than Pennsylvania’s.  Even though a fewof these states are making the mistake of trying to catch up by raising taxrates, we need to reverse our competitive disadvantage.  In themid-Atlantic region, New Jersey needs to be the best home for growth.

 Some hard working, low-income New Jerseyanspay no income tax at all. In this budget I am proposing relief for them, too. In 2010, our disastrous budget situation forced us to trim the EarnedIncome Tax Credit.  With this budget, I propose to increase it, from 20%to 25% over the next two years.  With my proposed increase, New Jerseywill have one of the most generous state tax programs for the working poor inthe nation – with an average annual benefit of 550 dollars.


So this package provides relief forevery New Jerseyan, up and down the income scale.  It recognizes that NewJersey’s tax situation had gotten out of control and begins to bring it backunder our control.  It recognizes that every New Jerseyan has shared inthe sacrifice that was necessary to begin the New Jersey Comeback and thatevery New Jerseyan should share in the benefit we’re beginning tofeel.  


Some in this chamber may want toreturn to the days of outrageous state spending growth.  To gimmickyprograms that take more money out of the taxpayers right pocket, and haveTrenton keep most of it. Then returns far less in your left pocket and thentakes a bow and calls it tax relief. 


New Jersey has seen 30 years of thisas Trenton’s solution to fix property taxes.  It never has fixed theproblem and it never will fix the problem.  New Jerseyans will not fallfor the same old Trenton politicians’ trick again. 


We know that the only way to ensurethat Trenton politicians will not waste your money is to not send it to them inthe first place.  Adopt my 10% tax cut plan this year – put our citizens’pocketbooks ahead of the never ending hunger of Trenton politicians for more ofour money now.


Personal income taxes, of course, arenot the only excessive burden that has been foisted upon our citizens bygovernment in the past few decades. Property taxes have been just as bad. They grew by 70% in the decade before I was elected, in some cases drivingpeople out of their homes and out of the state.


The property tax cap we enacted isbeginning to work.  We are finally starting to win the battle.  Weare bringing property taxes under control.


To help those senior citizens andmiddle income families hardest hit by property taxes, the state has long had aproperty tax rebate program. 


Last year, we were able to double thatproperty tax relief over the prior fiscal year.  Senior and disabledhomeowners with incomes up to $150,000 received double the benefits of FiscalYear 2011 – and they received it directly as a credit on their property taxbill.  No more gimmicky checks from Trenton politicians at election timeusing borrowed money to try to buy your vote.


Non-senior homeowners with incomes upto $75,000 also saw their property tax relief double over the prior year.


In this budget, in addition tomaintaining the benefits of the 2% cap , we are maintaining direct property taxrelief at last year’s increased levels.  There will be no cut in propertytax relief in this budget.


Our business tax system is also a keyto job growth.  It too had gotten out of control.  For example, weare one of only three states with both an inheritance tax and an estate tax –and our combined rates are among the highest in the nation.  On the oldpath, people not only couldn’t afford to live in New Jersey, they couldn’tafford to die in New Jersey either.


Last year, I put before this bodyeight pro-growth tax reforms that would make new jersey more attractive forfamily-owned businesses, for small businesses and for job creation.  Ithank you for passing six of those eight reforms in the past year – joining mein an investment of almost $200 million in pro-growth tax relief.  We’veseen our best job growth year since 2000 after these tax cuts were implemented.


This year’s budget continues the phase-inof the tax cutting, job growth initiatives we enacted into law.


In its second year, we make acommitment of $350 million – half way to a total of $700 million that thesemeasures will provide, when fully phased-in, of pro-growth small business taxrelief.  Small business has been the number one source of new jobs in NewJersey and in America.  And these cuts will make us more attractive forsmall business job growth.


Let’s put New Jersey in an even betterposition to compete with other states for the jobs our people need.


Competing successfully will of courserequire more than tax cuts.  We must also make investments that will makeNew Jersey even more productive in the future.


Last year, I offered a TransportationCapital Plan with combined resources of $1.6 billion per year. This program isa job-creator.  New Jersey needs to ensure that its physicalinfrastructure is world-class, its role as a transportation hubunmatched. 


So in this budget, consistent with myplan, I request $89 million to fund the Transportation Capital Plan.  Thisinvestment will put even more of our hard working building trades men and womenback to work.


When I ran for governor, I made apromise that if we had the courage to make the tough choices to cut wastefulspending we would be in a position to focus our resources on the issues thatreally matter. 


Now that we have our spending undercontrol we can begin to prioritize.  One such priority is New Jersey’scolleges and universities.  And today, because the people of New Jerseystood strong and had faith over the last two years, I am proud to say thisbudget proposes a nearly 6% increase in direct aid to our senior publiccolleges and universities.  We are able to help make college moreavailable and affordable for New Jersey families.  But we need to do more.


To make sure this commitment to highereducation is spread to every corner of the state, I ask you today for $1million to help create a new Governor’s Urban Scholarship Program – to helpprovide students in New Jersey’s inner cities the opportunity they need tosucceed.  


More broadly, this budget alsoproposes an increase of over $28 million above last year for student financialassistance, the bulk of which is a 10% increase in funding for tuition aid grants.


As we continue to support highereducation, let us implement the excellent recommendations of the University ofMedicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Advisory Committee.  The committeehas given us a blueprint for long-overdue reform.  We can usher in a newera for medical education – throughout the state.  And we can make surethat New Jersey secures its rightful place as the national leader in medicaleducation and biomedical research.   Let’s implement that plan.


In our society, education is the keyto advancement.  More attainment in education is the path to more earningsand success in life.  And a highly educated work force is a key to NewJersey’s competitiveness.


So we must continue to fund highereducation, and to make it more available to everyone with the brains andambition to climb that ladder to success.


It is well-known to you that I believewe have work to do to improve our k-12 education system in particular.  Wehave great outcomes in some districts.  But we have terrible performance inothers. 


That is not right, it is not fair andit is not moral. 


So I ask you again to pass this yearthe education reforms I put before you in my State of the State address. We need to reform tenure.  We need to pay the best teachers more.  Weneed to expand charter schools in our failing school districts.  And weneed to give choice and hope to those students and parents now trapped infailing school districts by passing the Opportunity Scholarship Act.


It’s not enough and it’s notappropriate, to simply tell our most challenged urban families, trapped in over200 failing schools, that “life’s not fair.”  That is the expressedattitude of some in the educational establishment in our state.  It is notmine.  It can no longer be the attitude of this legislature.  Our jobis to make the future better for every child in a failing school.  Wecannot simply accept failure or even mediocrity.  We must demandexcellence.


The opportunity to get a greateducation should not be a function of the zip code you live in – it should be ahallmark of growing up in New Jersey.


And while money alone is not theanswer, this budget provides strong support for K-12 education in the form ofincreased school aid.  Last year, my budget provided an increase for everyschool district in New Jersey.  In the budget I am putting before youtoday, I propose to increase school aid above last year’s level – by $213million. 


With this proposed increase, we willhave increased aid to New Jersey schools by over $1 billion in the two yearssince I took office.


And this increase would bring thelevel of school aid in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget to $8.8 billion, an all-timerecord level of investment by our state in our school children. 


In fact, we propose spending one ofevery three dollars in this budget on education. We are putting our money whereour mouth is.


In the past year, you joined with meto undertake a key reform of our system of pensions and health benefits forstate and local employees.


Once again, I thank you for yourcourage in enacting these reforms.  We have shown the nation that it ispossible to come together, on a bi-partisan basis, to address difficultlong-term problems.


The reforms you passed will reduce theprojected deficit of the pension system by over $120 billion in 30 years,putting it on a much more stable and sustainable footing for years to come.


Part of our agreement on that landmarkpension reform was to commit to a phased-in increase of the state’scontribution. 


The budget I propose makes good onthat commitment and will fully fund the second year of that phase-inagreement. 


This budget contains $1.1 billion forthe state’s pension contribution.  This is an increase of $587 millionover last year’s contribution.  This amount represents 3.42% of our entirestate budget this year.  In terms of absolute dollars, it is the singlelargest state contribution ever. 


The pension reform we enacted has madeemployee pensions safer and more reliable.  It has put us on a soundlong-term track. 


My proposal of $1.1 billion forpensioners in this state reinforces my commitment to the security and financialfuture of all public workers.  Stand with me on this commitment.  Letus live up to our word.  I implore you, fund this pension contribution thisyear.


So much of our debate in this chamberin these past two years has revolved around the urgent need to cutspending.  And our top priority has been to create the conditions foreconomic growth and job creation in New Jersey.


But as we do these things, we have toensure that this growth benefits all of our citizens, including those withmental illness, with disabilities and with the most challenging economic andsocial circumstances.


In the New Jersey Comeback, we needall hands on deck.  We need to tap the talents of every New Jerseyan.


On election night 2009, I promised NewJersey that we would turn Trenton upside down.  Part of that promise wasto remake government – not only to spend less, but also to deliver services toour neediest in a more effective way.  This budget keeps faith with thatpromise.


This budget includes a series of newapproaches and new initiatives to create better opportunities for the mostvulnerable New Jersey citizens.


In the area of mental illness, myadministration has been committed to making sure that those afflicted haveaccess to appropriate placements and services.  I believe we should placethe emphasis on providing care in the community and not in aninstitution.  This is not only the most cost effective approach to care,but independent research shows it is the one that will result in the bestoutcomes.


The coming closure of the HagedornPsychiatric Hospital this June marks a new day in delivering services for thosewith mental illness.  One that focuses on providing community-based careand housing.  My budget will reinvest the savings from the closure byproviding an additional $5.6 million to the division of mental health andaddiction services. 


$10 million in new funding will go tothe Department of Human Services.  New Jersey has the second highest rateof institutionalization in America.  Only Texas puts more of its citizensin institutions than New Jersey.  This is a shameful fact.  We mustchange.  It is long overdue.  We must move aggressively to providethis type of care in the community.


 $24.7 million in new funding isalso provided for individuals with developmental disabilities to expandcommunity placements.  This will get more people off our existing waitinglists, support those who turn 21 and age out, and pay for the over 600placements that occurred in the current fiscal year.


But it is not just money that willenable us to serve the people of New Jersey well – especially those most inneed of services.   We can improve the organization of stategovernment, its transparency and understandability to families who needit.  We need to make the provision of services simpler, more accountable,and more comprehensive.


So with this budget, I am proposing tocreate a new division focused on children within the Department of Children andFamilies.  This division will be the point of entry for all families withchildren with developmental disabilities – allowing them to benefit from abattery of services without having to be shuttled from agency to agency. 


The concept is to treat the wholechild and the whole family – in one place.  The division will develop anintegrated set of services – and for these families, make government worksmarter and better.  It will also provide a transition process throughadolescence to adult services.


So I ask for your support of thissimple and streamlined approach to the provision of services.  How we carefor individuals with developmental disabilities is a fundamental issue. Let’s serve this population better.


For our seniors, I propose a similarapproach.  With this budget, I am proposing the creation of a Division ofAging Services.  This division, to be housed in the Department of HumanServices, will also be the single point of access for all of our services toseniors.  It will enable us to coordinate all senior services – nursinghome care, community care, pharmaceutical assistance for the aged and disabled,senior gold, utility lifeline.  In one place.  With a coordinated,holistic approach.


For those seniors on Medicaid, heretoo we are going to place the emphasis on care in the community instead ofinstitutions.  This is not only more cost-effective, it will provide moredignity and happiness to our senior citizens – who, in most cases, would, ofcourse, prefer to live in their own homes and in their own communities.


For our treasured veterans, we need tocontinue to develop innovative ways to serve the neediest of these citizens inNew Jersey.  In this budget, one innovation has led to an opportunity forour veterans.


Our successful veterans haven programprovides a great place for homeless veterans.  After being evaluated at aVA hospital, veterans can join a long-term program focused on social andvocational rehabilitation. The program works.


The startup funding I propose will beused to launch a new effort to use the former Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital togive access to veterans in the northern part of the state to this highlyeffective program. Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital will now be the location forVeterans Haven North.   


For all New Jersey families withhealth care needs, the budget provides significant support for hospitals in NewJersey – a total of $986 million.  We must recognize that our hospitals,like those all across America, face the challenge of providing care to both theinsured and the un-insured. 


One final initiative I would like tocall to your attention:  in my State of the State, I proposed to you that,for drug offenders who have not committed a violent crime, we require of themmandatory treatment instead of mandatory prison.


I was clear that under thisAdministration “no life is disposable.”  Next week, keeping with thatpromise, I will announce the specifics of my drug treatment program fornon-violent offenders.


To underscore my commitment to thiscause, I have included an additional $2.5 million in this budget to establish amandatory drug court for nonviolent offenders in all 21 New Jerseycounties.  This will begin to give us the resources to place theseindividuals in treatment through the Division of Mental Health and AddictionServices – to make this program a reality.  It is the first step towardreclaiming these lives and treating drug addiction for what it really is – adisease that can be conquered, but only with effective treatment.


Let me make one last note. All of thereorganizations I have discussed. All of the enhanced programs for our mostvulnerable, all of that will be accomplished in an executive branch budget thatincreases only 1.7% over last year. We are making government smarter and moreefficient for our people while at the same time not raising their taxes to payfor it.


We also have avoided overly optimisticassumptions about revenue.  These will only get us in trouble in thefuture.  And we have held the line on spending.  We remain belowFiscal Year 2008 levels.  Understand what I just said, we are spendingless in this budget than we did in 2008. We are maintaining fiscal disciplineby cutting wasteful spending which allows us to fund our priorities.


We can fund key priorities, care forour most vulnerable, educate our youth, reduce taxes to encourage job growthand give all of our citizens much needed tax relief.


Today, I ask this chamber a simplequestion.  Why not cut income taxes for all New Jerseyans when our fiscalhouse is now in order?


•          Why not cut income taxes when we are increasing K-12education spending for the second year in a row, providing the largest stateappropriation for education in New Jersey history at $8.8 billion;


•          Why not cut income taxes when we are increasing funding for higher education byover $100 million;


•          Why not cut income taxes when we are providing more than $390 million infunding for student aid – the highest funding level in state history;


•          Why not cut income taxes when we are making the largest pension contribution inhistory at $1.1 billion;


•          Why not cut income taxes when we are providing for our most vulnerable.


We have done the hard work to get towhere we are today—to fund what matters while at the same time finallyproviding long overdue tax relief.  


So, to the naysayers, I saythis.  We have been down the road of high taxation.  It didn’twork.  The result was high unemployment, high taxes and low growth. The result was families leaving New Jersey.


The old way was a dead end for NewJersey.  High taxes and excessive spending left us stranded in a world ofdeclining growth, declining prospects and a diminished ability to compete as astate.


We have left the dark times of lostjobs worsened by overtaxing, overspending and overborrowing.  Please beclear on this point – we will not return to the path of higher taxes under anycircumstances. Not on my watch. To do so would risk stopping the New JerseyComeback in its tracks.


In these last two years, we haveconsciously chosen to turn our state around.  We have chosen a betterdirection.  We have chosen job growth.  We have chosen fiscaldiscipline.  We have chosen to compete.


And without the state and federalgovernment making it more difficult, make no mistake; the people of New Jerseycan compete with anyone.


The New Jersey Comeback has begun. Letus continue the course.


Let us continue to be the example forthe nation in getting our fiscal house in order, in addressing long-termpension problems, in fixing our schools and in becoming a haven and home forjob growth.


We have it within our power to makeNew Jersey, once again, the economic engine of our region.  To be anational leader in fiscal discipline.  To be the trendsetter for anAmerica that wants to honestly confront our challenges.  To be in thevanguard of bi-partisan government that puts our people ahead ofpartisanship.  To take our New Jersey strength and use it to put ourpeople back to work.  Most importantly, to fight the fights worthfighting.  For our children’s education.  For the needs of our most vulnerable. For fiscal sanity that restores New Jersey’s economic future.  For a statethat wakes up every day to the sun rising over a place we are proud, very proudto call home. 


That is my fight as yourgovernor.  Let’s make it our fight—together.  And let’s start againtoday.


Thank you, God bless you, God blessAmerica and God bless the great state of New Jersey.


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