Saying the tax increase would continue to drive top earners out of New Jersey, Christie acted within minutes of state Sen. President Stephen Sweeney signing and hand-delivering the bills, which received final passage by the Legislature.
"More and more people have left the state and continue to leave the state because of the tax situation," Christie said. "You're not going to fix this tax situation by continuing to load more and more taxes on people who have both the ability to leave the state and the inclination to leave the state if they feel as if they are being treated unfairly."
Christie, a Republican, has long vowed to veto the tax, which was enacted for one year by former Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine and expired in December.
Democrats have accused Christie of sparing the wealthy while asking everyone else to make sacrifices amid the state's money problems, which appeared to be growing worse.
David Rosen, the budget and finance officer for the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services, warned administration officials on Thursday that there was a high probability the income tax could "fall significantly below" what was projected for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and that next year's projections could also be off.
That comes on top of an announcement last week by the state treasurer that April revenue collections fell $568 million short of projections.
"What you're seeing on lower revenue is an indication of the fact that more and more people are leaving New Jersey," said Christie, who handily defeated Corzine in November.
The OLS estimated that the tax on millionaires would raise $637 million next year - a figure the governor disputed.
The surcharge on those making more than $1 million would have raised the income tax from 8.9 percent to 10.8 percent on about 16,000 residents. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature along party lines, with Democrats in favor.
Democrats had pushed for the tax on the wealthy to come up with money to restore property tax rebates for seniors and to blunt a proposed increase by the governor for prescription copays and a new $310 deductible for seniors and the disabled on state health plans.
But on Wednesday, a day before the governor was to speak to hundreds of AARP members, Christie said he would scrap his plans to raise the copays and the new deductible and would actually lower the price of generic drugs from $7 to $5.
Christie said his proposed $55.5 million in cuts weren't needed after all because they will be offset by increased rebate collections from drug manufacturers, more people using generic drugs and expanded eligibility for enrollment in a Medicare low-income subsidy program.
He said the timing of his announcement to restore the prescription benefits to existing levels wasn't political theater but that the move was something he was looking into for the past two weeks.
Novelle Williams, 79, of Orange, said she was glad to hear the prescription benefits would remain, but she had hoped to hear from the governor that she would see a property tax rebate check for the usual amount, not a credit against her tax bill.
"In my neighborhood there are `For Sale' signs all over the place. It's a sad situation," she said. "Don't give me a stupid credit. We want a check."
Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan called the veto "offensive and arrogant."
"Gov. Christie just made life more unaffordable for more than 600,000 senior and disabled citizens while awarding 16,000 millionaires with a tax cut," said Cryan, D-Union.
Sweeney, meanwhile, promised a continued fight.
"Seniors are worth fighting for. This is something we're not going away on," said Sweeney, D-West Deptford. "This isn't theater, this isn't a gimmick."