March 17th, 2010 The Day New Jersey Stood Still
It was like the plot from the 1950s science fiction movie: An alien (first Republican elected state-wide in very Blue New Jersey in 12 years) with his mighty robot (Big Budget Ax) land their spacecraft in State Capital Trenton. We need to say, "Klaatu barada nikto!" before it's too late.
They bring an important message to the State that he wishes to tell to representatives of the entire State. However, communication turns out to be difficult, so, after learning something about the natives, he decides on an alternative approach. He lives amongst us, and he reveals himself, along with the news that Big Budget Ax is a member of a race of super-robot enforcers invented to keep the budget of the State in check--- that will destroy the State if provoked.
Some of the major proposals in Republican Un-Governor Chris Christie's 2011 budget:
— Reduces state aid to primary and secondary K-12 schools by $820 million. Schools will lose up to 5 percent of their budgets. Districts where state aid is less than 5 percent will lose all that aid.
— Reduces state aid to colleges and universities by $175 million; eliminates aid to independent universities.
— Eliminates rebates for everyone in 2010.
— Gives reduced rebates to senior citizens, the disabled and low-income wage earners in April of 2011.
— Allows no one additional to join the "senior freeze" program, which lets low-income senior and disabled citizens lock in their property tax rates when they enroll.
— Proposes that rebate checks be converted to automatic property tax credits.
— Proposes that a 2.5 percent cap on property taxes be enacted for towns and schools. If towns or schools want to exceed the cap, they must get voter approval.
— Reduces the state tax credit for lower-income workers known as the Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent from 25 percent of the federal benefits. The eligibility would remain the same, but the credit would be lower.
— As of July 1, allows no more adults can enroll in the NJ FamilyCare program. The program offers free or subsidized health insurance coverage to low-income children and their parents.
— Closes two state-run hospitals, Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital in Glen Gardner — one of four such state-run facilities in the state — and Vineland-West Hospital.
— Approximately 1,300 state workers will face layoffs beginning in January. It is unclear how many of those are union workers and when the layoffs will occur.
— Skips a $3 billion pension payment to a system that is already underfunded by $46 billion.