Senate panel readying vote on budget compromise

TRENTON – Senate lawmakers are readying to vote a $32.9 billion budget plan out of committee Thursday morning.

Sen. Paul Sarlo, chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, issued a statement indicating lawmakers and Gov. Chris Christie have compromised on a budget proposal. The Democratic lawmaker said the plan “makes the best use of available resources,” but added it doesn’t achieve everything Democratic lawmakers hoped for under a stronger economy.

“This is a reasonable and responsible fiscal plan for New Jersey that reflects the difficult economic conditions that continue to require hard decisions on state finances,” Sarlo said in a statement.

“This is a negotiated budget. By coming to an agreement with the administration and our counterparts in the Assembly we are able to finalize a plan far in advance of the July 1 deadline and we avoid any contentious disagreements or any possibility of a disruption in state services,” he said.

The negotiated plan projects a $300 million surplus and reallocates $97.2 million in spending that is offset by $97.2 million in revised spending projections for Medicaid and state health benefits by the administration.

According to the proposal, the reallocated spending includes: $35 million for higher education reorganization; $20 million for cancer research grants; $13.2 million for a cost of living adjustment for community providers who care for vulnerable residents and the mentally disabled; $10.3 million for nursing home and specialized care facilities; $7.4 million in school aid and $6 million for tax relief for the Meadowlands communities.

"New Jersey hasn’t heard the last of Brian Goldberg. Or maybe New Jersey will be hearing about him for the first time."
—NJ Media Advance for NJ.com's "The Auditor," on the Essex Republican's new PAC