(Adds comment from budget chairman in 10th paragraph.)
Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is urging residents to press lawmakers for approval of his 10 percent income-tax cut in a radio-advertising campaign paid for by the Republican State Committee.
Christie, in the one-minute ad set to begin airing today, says failure to enact his $32.1 billion budget would imperil what he calls the “New Jersey comeback.” At one point, he reads the telephone number for Assembly Democratic staff offices in Trenton and asks residents to call them directly.
“I need your help,” Christie, a 49-year-old Republican halfway through his first term, says in the ad. “Tell state Assembly leaders to pass our budget, pass the 10 percent tax cut and keep the New Jersey comeback going.”
Christie’s spending plan, introduced Feb. 21, counts on tax revenue increasing 7.3 percent, the most since before the recession began in December 2007. He said he is able to cut taxes now that New Jersey’s “fiscal house is in order.”
The governor’s proposal is structurally unbalanced because it is built on “optimistic” economic-growth projections, Standard & Poor’s said in a Feb. 24 report. The budget also depends on using $288 million of reserves and increases the state’s reliance on one-time revenue to $1.6 billion, S&P said.
“The economic assumptions that underpin the state’s revenue forecast appear to be optimistic based on current and projected economic conditions at the state and national levels,” wrote John Sugden, an S&P credit analyst.
Under New Jersey’s 1947 Constitution, the governor and lawmakers must adopt a budget that balances revenue and spending by the July 1 start of the fiscal year.
Christie “has an unbroken record of creating responsible, balanced budgets without tax increases that have been built on solid, conservative revenue estimates,” Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said in a Feb. 24 statement, in response to S&P’s report.
Democrats, who control both houses of the Legislature, say Christie’s tax-cut plan would favor the wealthy and ignores New Jersey’s property-tax burden, the highest in the nation. The bills averaged $7,759 in 2011, up 2.4 percent from 2010, according to the state Department of Community Affairs.
“It’s an act of desperation,” Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, a Secaucus Democrat who is chairman of the budget committee, said of the radio commercial. “He’s trying to drum up some support and I don’t think that is going to be a very successful effort.”
Christie in the ad points to record funding levels for public schools and universities and a 2 percent cap he placed on property-tax growth as proof he’s taken on those issues.
“We can cut wasteful spending, cut taxes 10 percent and fund our priorities,” he said.
The “substantial ad buy” will place the radio spot on airwaves across New Jersey and in the Philadelphia and New York City markets for several weeks, Douglass Mayer, a spokesman for the state committee, said in a telephone interview. He declined to say how much the radio blitz will cost.
Christie, who last year turned down entreaties from party leaders and donors to enter the Republican presidential primary race, collected record out-of-state donations for his party ahead of the November legislative elections. The committee had $539,005 of cash on hand as of Jan. 1, according to a report filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Mayer said the state committee is hoping to bolster the governor’s message with the ads and advance his agenda with the public.
“This is an effort to help forward that agenda and let the people of this state know exactly how Governor Christie plans to keep New Jersey moving in the right direction,” Mayer said in an e-mail.
--Editors: Stacie Servetah, Mark Tannenbaum
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