New Jersey residents are split over whether they approve Gov. Chris Christie’s $29.4 billion budget proposal, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released last week. Of the 912 adults polled, 48% are displeased with the fiscal 2012 spending plan while 45% approve of it.
The Republican governor released his budget proposal on Feb. 22. It reduces spending by 2.6% over the current fiscal year, assuming the state makes a $506 million pension contribution payment in fiscal 2011 rather than pushing it off until fiscal 2012.
Christie also proposes flat spending for municipal aid and a $250 million increase to school districts. The state in fiscal 2011 cut aid to municipalities and school districts and suspended property-tax rebates.
Of those in favor of the budget plan, 11% are very pleased and 34% are somewhat pleased. Conversely, 22% are very displeased with the spending proposal and 26% are somewhat displeased.
Those not in favor of the budget describe it as unfair, citing spending cuts and reductions in educational programs. About 65% of those polled said the Legislature should find ways to protect programs.
The poll shows that 52% strongly support a tax hike for those making more than $1 million. Another 20% somewhat support that initiative, while 26% somewhat oppose or strongly oppose it. Christie would like to reduce income taxes for those earning more than $400,000 annually.
Of those polled, 61.8% disapproved of that tax cut compared to 34.2% that favored it.
Poll participants would like state lawmakers to work first on pension reform, followed by increasing property-tax rebates, eliminating automatic teacher tenure, and requiring public employees to pay more for their health care benefits.
The poll shows that 54% favor Christie’s pension reform initiative while 40% oppose changes to the retirement system.