N.J. budget deal reached

June 16, 2008 12:44:10 PM PDT
Legislative leaders Monday said they've agreed with the governor on a new state budget that would cut spending amid state fiscal woes, but Republicans and municipal officials quickly decried the plan. Senate President Richard J. Codey and Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr. said the deal should allow the $32.8 billion budget to be approved before the July 1 constitutional deadline. That would avoid a repeat of 2006's state government shutdown.

The two top Democrats said they have an agreement in principle with Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine, but it still needs approval from the full Assembly and Senate.

"At the end of the day it's up to the members," said Codey, D-Essex.

The agreement sets the stage for a Wednesday Assembly public hearing on the budget and Thursday hearings on budget bills. That would allow for final legislative approval as early as next Monday.

Codey and Roberts said details would be released Tuesday.

Corzine's budget proposed $2.9 billion state aid cuts for hospitals, nursing homes and state colleges and universities, among other areas.

Legislative Democrats objected to many of the cuts and looked to restore some money by extending a utility tax that was being phased out. That move would raise $62 million for hospitals, Medicaid and nursing homes.