$31.7 Billion Budget Will Send Money to State General Fund
On June, 29, 2012, Governor Chris Christie signed the state budget which went into effect on July 1, 2012. The budget anticipates spending $31.7 billion and included his veto of a measure that would have allowed towns two more years to spend the money in their local trust funds set aside for the creation of affordable housing. Instead, the almost $200 million will now go to the state general fund instead of to their intended purpose.
Quoting from the New York Times coverage, Christie accused the legislature of “wanting to spend irresponsibly. ‘Simply wishing for more money to pay the bills is a reckless, childish, guaranteed path towards financial disaster,’ he said.”
Christie used his line item veto power to go line by line through the state budget and also eliminated additional initiatives that would have helped the working poor including the state earned income tax credit.
Prior to Friday’s move by governor, the State Senate and Assembly both passed legislation last week that would have given municipalities two more years to use that money.
As background, a 2008 state law required towns to use the Affordable Housing Trust Fund money to build low-income housing for residents by July 17, 2012 or forfeit it to the state. The governor had planned to use the funds to pay for rental assistance, homelessness prevention and shelter assistance through the state Department of Community Affairs.
While some local communities have no allocation, others could forfeit significant amounts.
“It is disappointing that the governor refuses to do what’s necessary to move our economy forward by letting municipalities build thriving communities that are affordable for all New Jersey residents. A New Jersey comeback starts with our hard-working families, seniors, veterans, and special needs residents and Christie’s budget completely shuts them out,” said Staci Berger, The Housing & Community Development Network of NJ’s Director of Policy and Advocacy.