An upbeat Gov. Chris Christie said the 17,600 newly created New Jersey jobs reported in May represent 25 percent of all the new jobs created in America last month — and offered that as powerful evidence the New Jersey “Comeback,” as he calls it, is real.
Implicit in the governor’s message today was that the state can afford a tax cut, despite what critics see as a revenue shortfall of approximately $1 billion.
“What the folks down the hall, what the Democrats don’t understand, is that New Jersey is optimistic again and that’s why people continue now who had not been looking for jobs for months and for some of them for years, are now reentering the labor force to try to find jobs,” Christie said. “They believe a New Jersey Comeback is underway as well.”
With this announcement, the governor is putting pressure on legislative Democrats to include a tax cut in their budget deliberations this month. But critics like Democratic Sen. Barbara Buono are not so easily swayed.
“The governor obviously doesn’t know his way around a balance sheet. We don’t have the revenues,” Buono said. “His projections are wildly extravagant and it’s not just me saying it. Some of the rating agencies have also said it. We don’t have the money for the tax cut. It’s unfortunate.”
After the Senate Democratic majority caucused behind closed doors for two hours, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo told reporters a budget agreement is still some days away.
“On the 25th we will vote out a budget. There will not be a government shutdown, not from the legislature’s perspective,” Sarlo said. “Everybody wants to cut taxes. We all would like to see taxes cut. But at this point in time we’re looking closely at the revenues to ensure that the revenues will support a tax cut.”
Today’s positive jobs report doesn’t seem to be altering the Democratic leadership’s position.
“I’m glad to see we’ve added those jobs but if you take a closer look, a lot of those are temporary and seasonal type jobs — lot of your shore folks who work at the shore temporarily,” Sarlo said.
So the budget battle is still a three-way chess match between the governor, the Senate and the Assembly. Sarlo said his committee would hold a hearing on a budget bill one week from today.
Michael Aron reports from Trenton.