Senate responds to news of deepening deficit

The state Senate was packed Thursday as 22 separate committees spent the day looking at ways to stimulate the economy.

The meeting was held one day after new figures show the budget deficit tripled to $1.2 billion this year. Estimates for next year are worse, with the deficit hitting between $4 and 5 billion.

Among the items examined were two bills aimed at helping struggling New Jersey homeowners. The bills carry a price tag of approximately $52 million, and some are wondering how the state could afford it.

?At the end of the day folks, we're going to be spending $300 million more,? says Sen. Kevin O?Toole (R-40th District). ?The question we have to ask is ? where's the money coming from?"

Others looked to cuts rather than stimulus to address the fledgling economy.

Sen. Leonard Lance, the Republican budget officer, proposed $69 million in spending cuts including cuts to purchasing, special aid to cities and non-essential positions. Lance?s proposal failed.

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