The snow isn’t the only thing that’s causing a chill in the Garden State.
Calling New Jersey’s budget a “shambles,” Gov. Chris Christie announced Thursday he is immediately freezing all state spending.
Saying New Jersey is on the verge of bankruptcy, Christie declared a fiscal emergency, announcing drastic cuts. Among them, aid to school districts that have excess surpluses.
“Today we are going to act swiftly to fix problems too long ignored. Today I begin to do what I promised the people of New Jersey I would do,” Christie said.
The move had Democrats in an uproar, angry the governor used his executive powers instead of working with the Legislature.
“What that’s going to mean is that those school districts without that money are going to be raising property taxes in the upcoming year to make up for that shortfall,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-19th District.
The governor also cut state subsidies to New Jersey Transit, saying it needs to become fiscally efficient.
“Revisit its rich union contracts,” Christie said. “And they may also have to consider service reductions or fare increases.”
“It’s really foolish. It undermines not only the environment but our economy because people need transit to get to work,” said Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club.
But one tax group applauded the governor.
“Yes it’s going to be difficult to make some of these choices as were highlighted today, but education, health care and these things tend to be sacred cow and they need to be taken out of that category,” said Jerry Cantrell of the Taxpayers’ Association of New Jersey.
Fellow Republicans said some school districts have been abusing the money they get and it’s about time a governor called them on it.
“I think the record indicates that there are a number of school districts that have been overspending, misappropriating,” said Assemblyman Joe Mallone, R-30th District.
The governor said he doesn’t anticipate schools cutting programs or jobs right now, but sources within the administration said there are no guarantees for the next fiscal year.
Christie warned lawmakers that next year’s budget may include even harsher cuts in spending and aid.