State lawmakers must fill $800 million budget shortfall; Christie says he'll consider spending cuts
TRENTON - Legislators must fill an $800 million gap in the state's budget. Gov. Chris Christie says he'll do whatever he can, including making major cuts in spending.
"I'm going to use every tool at my disposal to get a balanced budget," Christie says. "Because the paramount issue is balancing the budget, that's a constitutional requirement."
The governor has faced a big budget gap before, and he's not afraid to cut. That previously meant education spending and property tax relief landed under the axe.
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Democratic State Senate Budget Chairman Paul Sarlo says anything is possible. "There's a $500 million final education payment pot of money that's available, but I don't know how you do that when all of your school budgets have been adopted," he says.
Lawmakers disagree on what caused the budget shortfall. Democrats think Christie continues to overestimate how strong our state's economy is. The governor believes wealthy taxpayers, who make up almost half the state's income tax revenues, are finding new ways to avoid paying higher taxes.
Gov. Christie says he'll turn to the treasurer's office for suggestions on how to fill the $800 million gap. The budget must be balanced by the end of the fiscal year - 60 days from now.