TRENTON, N.J., Feb. 26 (UPI) -- New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine presented a "sober and responsible" state budget Tuesday that would cut state spending by $500 million.
The governor acknowledged in his speech to a joint session of the Legislature that a plan to use large toll increases to balance the budget and pay down New Jersey's crushing debt has failed to gain traction with voters. Corzine's effort to sell that plan with a series of town hall meetings has failed, with polls showing that voters would prefer cuts in state spending.
"I have heard firsthand the public's frustration and anger generated by too many years of overspending, borrowing, and false rhetoric," Corzine said. "And they're right."
Corzine's $33 billion spending plan for fiscal 2009 would eliminate 3,500 jobs and three cabinet-level state departments. He also called for cuts in property-tax relief for households with incomes of more than $100,000 and in aid to higher education and hospitals.
New Jersey has one of the highest per-capita debt levels of any state with about $32 billion in bonds. The state also has billions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities and can expect to spend billions more for retiree health care.