Highlights of today's budget speech by Governor Christie to the New Jersey legislature:
In New York, a Democratic governor has proposed dramatic reforms to Medicaid, because that program left on autopilot will lead both state and federal governments straight into a crash.In California, a new Democratic governor has proposed to cut the number and pay of all state employees.
And in Wisconsin and Ohio, they have decided there can no longer be two classes of citizens: one that receives rich health and pension benefits, and all the rest who are left to pay for them.
Democrat or Republican, it doesn't matter. We are all facing the same problems. These problems are bigger than either political party. The promises of the past are too expensive, and the prospects of the future are too important to stay on the old, failed course.Across the country, we have come to a moment – the moment for real change and the return to fiscal discipline....
Some thought the change might come from the federal government. But that hasn't been the case. It is spending more than ever. The change is coming from the states....
If there's pandering, it's to senior citizens: "We will continue to fund the increase that was made in last year's budget to P.A.A.D. and Senior Gold Prescription Assistance Programs. There will be no changes – no co-pay increases and no eligibility changes. This level of funding means New Jersey will still have some of the most generous prescription assistance programs in the nation for our seniors."
And: "I am proposing today to double the property tax rebate for middle class families and our seniors, to ease the transition to the 2% property tax cap we are faithfully implementing this year. Under my plan, in FY 2012 senior and disabled homeowners with incomes up to $150,000 would receive double the benefits they will receive in the current fiscal year – which, by the way, they are receiving directly as a credit on their property tax bill....the chance for middle class taxpayers and seniors to receive double the property tax relief without raising taxes on anyone else is solely up to you, the Legislature."