New Jersey Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon will serve as the Republican budget officer in the General Assembly.

O’Scanlon, of Monmouth, replaces Joe Malone of Burlington, who will become deputy Republican leader. O’Scanlon has been on the Assembly Budget Committee for three years.

“We must place the interests of taxpayers as our top priority, which will only happen by putting our fiscal house in order and living within our means,” O’Scanlon said in a statement.

The leadership change comes as Gov. Chris Christie is expected to release his fiscal 2012 budget proposal on Feb. 22. Officials anticipate a nearly $11 billion deficit in next year’s budget. Fiscal 2012 begins July 1.

In a statement, Assembly Budget Committee chairman Louis Greenwald, D-Camden, praised Malone’s work on state spending plans.

“Assemblyman O’Scanlon truly has large shoes to fill,” Greenwald said. “I welcome him to his leadership position on the Budget Committee and look forward to working with him to find budget solutions that put middle-class families and property taxpayers first.”

In addition, Assemblyman David Wolfe, R-Ocean, will step down from the Budget Committee to focus on education reform initiatives. He sits on the Assembly Education Committee.

Democrats control both houses of the Legislature.

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