Posted in the Star Ledger:
The unfortunate problem is that Corzine has no desire to hear us the people, nor do the right thing by us – he wants to use scare tactics and make cuts on things we need most – not things like 5% “across the board” including his staff and all the state cars they use.
Gov. Jon Corzine is considering making more high-income residents ineligible for tax rebates, closing some state parks, reducing hours at motor vehicle offices and slicing aid to colleges, hospitals and towns, according to administration and legislative officials familiar with his plans for a no-frills state budget.
While no final decisions have been made on the budget Corzine is due to present later this month, the officials confirmed Corzine’s warnings of “deep and painful cuts,” saying virtually all areas of spending except aid to local school districts are on the chopping block.
While Corzine has said he does not want to slash the state’s $2.2 billion rebate program because checks from Trenton offset the state’s high property tax burden, officials said he is considering sending checks to fewer residents by tightening income-eligibility limits for non-seniors.
A senior administration official who requested anonymity, saying the budget is not final, confirmed a wide range of options are still in play, including an end to weekend hours at Motor Vehicle Commission offices, sharp cuts to hospital charity care, and mandatory co-payments for Medicaid recipients.
Lilo Stainton, the governor’s spokeswoman, said, “while it is too early to discuss the details of the upcoming budget, Governor Corzine has made clear that it will involve deep and painful cuts.”
“The governor’s guiding principles are maintaining public safety, caring for the most vulnerable in society and preserving his commitment to property tax relief,” she said. “But it will be necessary to cut at nearly $2.5 billion just to keep (the next budget) at last year’s level of $33.5 billion, and additional reductions may also be necessary.”