HEADLINES : New Jersey
N.J. Legislature committees to tackle spending plan, work on range of legislation
With the budget deadline less than two weeks away, Senate and Assembly committees are scheduled to take up a Democratic-backed spending plan today that challenges Gov. Chris Christie to earn his coveted tax cut while restoring millions for the working poor and women's health issues.
As if juggling a $32 billion budget plan were not enough, lawmakers will also consider a wide-range of legislation, from reshaping the state's colleges and medical schools to forcing parents back to driving school if they want their teenagers to get a learner's permit.
In addition, Democrats are expected to kick off their third attempt to raise taxes on millionaires.
Competing tax cut plans have dominated budget discussions ever since Christie announced in January that he wanted cut the state's income tax rate by 10 percent. Democrats responded with their own tax-cutting plans, which rely on an income tax credit that is calculated on the size of property tax bills. But the tax-cutting proposals ran into financial headwinds as slumping revenue figures cast doubt on whether the state could afford it. Democrats now say any tax cut should be held off until Christie can meet his tops-in-the-nation revenue forecasts for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Christie lampooned the idea at a town hall on Tuesday.