Corzine: NJ could get $4B in stimulus

January 20, 2009 11:28:39 AM PST
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine said the Garden State could receive close to $4 billion in federal stimulus money over two years to help pay for education and health care. Appearing on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Tuesday, Corzine called the federal stimulus package being advanced in the House "quite substantial," but warned that it won't be a blank check.

"We ought to take this time and make sure we're reforming government, so it's not just a bailout," Corzine said.

The Democratic governor praised President Barack Obama and his economic team for moving to jump-start the economy, and predicted that the stimulus money would help reverse Americans' newfound skittishness over the economy.

Corzine delayed his annual budget address to the Legislature by two weeks so he could get a better idea of how much federal help to expect.

The governor faces a multibillion-dollar fiscal shortfall in the current budget year and the next one, which begins on July 1. He has already ordered two rounds of additional cuts to the current budget, totaling $1.2 billion, to match declining tax collections.

He's also incurred $400 million in additional spending this year, including Medicaid costs that have exceeded the amount budgeted.

Revenues from sales tax, gross income tax and corporate business tax all came in lower than projected in December, for the third straight month. State Treasurer David Rousseau now estimates the state will be short $1.7 billion by the time the fiscal year ends June 30.

The governor said Tuesday he hopes to avoid raising taxes even though the New Jersey Constitution bars the state from running in the red.

Corzine's economic policies have been criticized by many New Jersey Republicans, who lay the state's grim financial conditions at the governor's doorstep.

On Tuesday, Assembly Republicans invited citizens to make their own budget-cutting suggestions online.

"The only way they will get the message is if enough people speak up and tell the Democrats they can no longer bail themselves out at the taxpayers' expense," said Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce.

Corzine, a former CEO of Goldman Sachs, called for a series of economic stabilization and recovery measures in October, including mortgage foreclosure aid and incentives for job creation. Many of the measures have been enacted into law.

The governor will give his budget proposal in mid-March.

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