Across the country, states' and local governments have been getting to the difficult work of balancing their bottom lines. In New Jersey, Republican Governor Chris Christie proposed a $29.4 billion budget which, he argues, reduces state spening by 2.6 percent for the 2012 fiscal year. The governor went on to describe a "new normal" of practical taxing and thrifty spending for his state, which is currently burdened by an $11 billion deficit. The governor's new normal includes a 15 percent cut to the Dept. of Health and Senior Services, state-wide benefit reform that would increase the amount state employees pay for their health insurance and increase retirement contributions from 8 percent to 30 percent, and a $2.5 billion tax cut to businesses. It wasn't all about cuts though; Gov. Christie increased school aid by $250 million, and gave $50 million to charter schools.
Bob Hennelly, senior reporter for our flagship station WNYC, was in Trenton as the governor announced his budget. Sean Cavanagh, staff writer for Education Week, explains how New Jersey’s education spending differs from the national trend.