Sign or veto? Budget decision time for Christie

Today is the day we expect Gov. Christie to sign, veto or line-item veto the Democrats' budget. (He has until tomorrow at midnight to act, but he wants us to have Saturday off, doesn't he??)

This is the most important document that passes through the Statehouse each year, affecting New Jerseyans in ways big and small: your taxes, schools, roads, housing, health care and so much more.

Gov. Christie (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Last year, Christie took the Democrats' budget and line-item vetoed a range of funding for the poor, elderly, sick, students and urbanites. Democrats reacted angrily, with Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) calling Christie a "rotten prick."

This year, things might work out a bit differently. 

Consider, for example, that the Democrats are providing less spending in their budget for some programs for the most vulnerable. I reported yesterday, here, about Democratic cuts to programs for abused children, welfare and substance abuse.

Christie can eliminate specific lines of funding he doesn't like. But he's not allowed to add funding. If the politicians want to restore this money, they'd have to move money around during the year, probably through new legislation.

Republican legislators reacted angrily to my story yesterday. 

Sen. Diane Allen (R., Burlington) said: "When it came to funding their own political priorities, the [Democratic] majority had no problem in using dollars from the very same programs they criticized others for cutting."

Added Sen. Tom Kean (R., Union) added: "The Democratic majority has spent the last 2 1/2 years accusing Republican legislators and Gov. Christie of being mean-spirited, heartless partisans for making reductions to the state budget in order to put New Jersey back on a path to fiscal stability, but it appears their outrage only boils over when it suits their political interests. These cuts, made in order to spend money elsewhere and cobble together enough votes for passage, are as cynical as they are hypocritical."

Also on tap: Christie's proposed tax cut versus the Democrats' promise of a possible tax cut. Stay tuned for more.