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Governor's Budget Protects New Jersey Families

 

Funds included for education, health and security

 TRENTON, N.J. - Demonstrating his commitment to protecting New Jersey's hard working families, Governor James E. McGreevey today proposed a balanced FY03 budget that improves education, health and security and eliminates a $5.3 billion deficit without raising sales or income taxes.

"The budget sets forth a fair and equitable blueprint for New Jersey's future," McGreevey said. "Even in hard times, a budget must be driven by the right priorities and the right values."

Among the highlights of the budget are:

Education

  • Investing $10 million, the first part of a $40 million four-year literacy initiative for reading coaches in schools and other programs to ensure all third graders can read at or above grade level.
  • Protecting state aid to schools and providing additional support for the state's multi-billion dollar school construction program.
  • Supporting partnerships with businesses to establish career academies to train the workforce of the future.
  • Funding to provide every child with a solid beginning at the pre-school level.
  • Investing in character education, teacher mentoring and teacher recruitment programs.

Safety and Security

  • $9.6 million for the Office of Counter Terrorism to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to prevent and mitigate terrorist attacks in New Jersey, and to serve as a liaison with federal and local law enforcement agencies.
  • The first installment in a $100 million commitment for new law enforcement facilities.
  • $1.8 million in funding to equip a temporary lab for anthrax and other potential bio-terrorism agents.
  • Ensuring that New Jersey's hospitals and emergency services are equipped to respond to terrorist health threats by focusing on bio-terrorism, hazardous materials, surveillance, and critical medications.

Health

  • Providing $28 million for the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, which will help make the institute one of the premiere cancer research facilities in the nation.
  • Allocating $500,000 for the Cancer Cluster Task Force to investigate cancer clusters such as the one under investigation in Toms River.
  • Hosting an international conference to highlight new developments in cancer research and treatment.
  • Protecting the PAAD program, which helps senior citizens and the disabled pay for medical prescriptions.

The proposed FY03 budget of $23.63 billion is 1.5 percent or $343 million more than the adjusted FY02 appropriation level of $23.32 billion. The increase is significantly less than the 6.5 percent growth proposed in the FY 2002 budget and is 75 percent less than the 5.9 percent average annual growth rate of the past 20 years.

The budget calls for five percent across-the-board reductions at all State agencies; a reduction of 1,000 state jobs through early retirement, attrition and, if necessary, layoffs; restructuring of the Department of Education to reduce bureaucracy and improve efficiency, and consolidation of programs and agencies, such as New Jersey's three toll road authorities.

The proposal protects property tax relief programs such as NJ Saver, the Homestead Rebate and the Property Tax Reimbursement (Freeze) Program for seniors, and it maintains state aid to schools and local governments at FY02 levels.

"By refusing to cut state aid by even one cent, we are affirming our commitment to improve the schools and communities of our state," McGreevey said.

The budget also provides for a 50-cent per pack increase in the cigarette tax to discourage smoking and establishes a more equitable tax structure by ensuring that corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

"We are restoring the integrity of the corporate income tax by eliminating loopholes and gimmicks that have allowed some companies to shirk their responsibilities," McGreevey said.

"Of the 50 companies with the largest payrolls in New Jersey, 30 of them paid only the minimum corporate tax of $200 last year," he said. "A single parent earning $25,000 a year pays more than that in income taxes each year. This is unacceptable."

The proposal also calls for restoration of the Public Advocate to serve as the people's watchdog in Trenton and hold government accountable on insurance rates, utility costs and other public issues.

"The budget is a road map that will lead us to a stronger New Jersey," McGreevey said. "Now, we must work in partnership with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as well as with our citizens and the public sector to build prosperity and opportunity for all citizens of our state."

 

 

 

 


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