In early November, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine announced that he had directed his cabinet to cut $400 million in spending in order to maintain a balanced budget before newly elected Gov. Chris Christie takes office in January.
“My administration will continue to live up to our responsibility to maintain a fiscally balanced budget during the next two months,” Corzine said. “These cuts will be tough but necessary choices that need to be addressed now. Ignoring these issues over the next two months will not make them go away and will only hurt the people of New Jersey. I will not allow politics to stand in the way of doing what is right.”
“Right now we’re working on ensuring that committed aid is delivered.” – Mark Albiez, UC Spokesman
The cut will come out of the final portion of amounts that were promised to various towns for their budgets this year. Some towns are only losing a few thousand dollars and some are not losing anything, but they are more concerned about future cuts.
Though the $20.7 million accounts for 5 percent of the total aid given to municipalities this year, some were depending on it for their already squeezed budgets. Losing aid can mean higher taxes for residents or cutbacks in services.
West New York and Union City commented last week about how they plan to deal with this cut or future cuts that could come when Christie takes over.
Union City Mayor Brian Stack said through his spokesman, Mark Albiez, that he does not know yet what future cuts could mean for his city.
“To talk about it is premature,” said Albiez. “Right now we’re working on ensuring that committed aid is delivered.”
Stack is up for re-election in May of 2010, so it will be in his interest to keep taxes down.
West New York Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega’s spokesman, Paul Swibinsky, said, “Town officials have been in direct contact with officials at the state Department of Community Affairs but have not received any official notification of any state aid cuts at this time.” He said Vega and the commissioners are determined to keep taxes down.
Vega is currently in the midst of preventing a recall election against him by Dr. Felix Roque. If the recall does not go through, he would be up for re-election in May of 2010. Vega and his team have already begun campaigning for re-election.
The New Jersey State League of Municipalities voiced their concern on the matter in a statement recently: “Local budgets were carefully crafted and balanced assuming that the state would honor its commitment to a certain level of property tax funding,” read the statement. “That level has already been reduced twice within the last 12 months – first, in January, when state revenue projections were not met, and second, in July, when the state’s current budget imposed further cuts.”
Since announcing the need for cuts, Corzine recently applied for $200 million federal stimulus dollars for New Jersey schools. Christie opposes the move because as part of getting the funds, schools will be asked to make reform changes to be more competitive. The program is called “Race To The Top.”
For more information on the Race To The Top stimulus fund program visit: http://www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/.
Melissa Rappaport may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org