NJ Lawmakers Holding Hearings On State Budget Plan

Mar 15, 2017

Assembly Budget Committee holds first of several hearings on the proposed budget.
Credit Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are holding hearings on Governor Christie's proposed budget.

Assembly Budget Committee chairman Gary Schaer  believes lawmakers will tweak Christie's $3.5 billion spending plan.

"Our involvement is critical in terms of honing the budget. Some funds could be found here to cut. Some funds could be found here to expand."

Declan O'Scanlon is the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee. He says even if good ideas come up at the hearings, they'll be hard to fund because of the state's pension and health benefit obligations.

"It's taxpayer dollars that we're talking about. So, you want to advocate more money for something, you're advocating for taking more money out of taxpayers' pockets. Good luck with that."

Schaer says lawmakers are concerned possible cuts in federal funds from Obamacare changes could affect the state.

“Not necessarily on the budget that we’re discussing this year but certainly that’s the elephant in the room on the future. We have over half a million people who have taken advantage of initiatives that are funded in part or in while by Washington.”

The state constitution requires a new budget by the end of June.