New Jersey Governor Chris Christie urged Republicans in Congress not to “paper over” the problems facing deficit-wracked U.S. states with an additional round of stimulus spending.
Christie, a Republican entering his second year in office, said he has asked federal lawmakers not to approve additional money. Christie said states must cope with the expiration next year of funding under the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
“It’s time to make some tough decisions,” he said today in an interview on Fox News. “It’s time for us to belly up to the bar and make the tough decisions.”
Christie’s comments come as 40 states have projected deficits that may reach $140 billion in the 2012 fiscal year, according to a December report from the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill contained $140 billion to help states cope with the recession, the group said.
Christie has warned of cuts to New Jersey’s Medicaid program as it faces a $1.4 billion deficit due to the loss of $900 million from the federal government and the requirement to maintain services at levels mandated by the U.S.
Plea for Help
The state’s nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services projected Christie may face a deficit of $10.5 billion for the fiscal year beginning July 1, equivalent to more than a third of the current budget. Christie last year closed a $10.7 billion gap in part by skipping a $3 billion pension payment and cutting $1.3 billion in aid to schools and cities.
By calling on his party’s lawmakers to cut off the states, Christie put himself at odds with some colleagues.
Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, a Democrat who leads the National Governors Association, said she and her colleagues need help from Congress.
“We’re not asking for a handout,” Gregoire said in an interview last month. “We’re asking for a partnership and an understanding that whatever they do has a definite impact on us — good or bad.”
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