Gov. Chris Christie wants to increase state spending in the coming fiscal year, but he claims the proposed budget is smaller than the one in place when he took office in January 2010.
The governor made that point in a Feb. 21 speech before state legislators and other officials, when he unveiled his proposed $32.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1. The adjusted budget for the current fiscal year stands at roughly $30.9 billion.
"The budget I propose would total $32.1 billion for the coming year," Christie said. "While this represents minimal growth from last year, it is still below the level of state spending when I took office."
PolitiFact New Jersey was interested in whether state spending was higher two years ago, and a state Treasury Department spokesman showed us the numbers that back up Christie’s claim.
The proposed fiscal year 2013 budget is smaller than the fiscal year 2010 budget in place around the time Christie took office -- but just barely. The difference between the two budgets is about $5 million.
Let’s break down the numbers.
Christie, a Republican, was sworn into office on Jan. 19, 2010 -- in the middle of fiscal year 2010, which began under former Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat. Two months later, the new governor introduced his budget for fiscal year 2011.
To support the governor’s statement, Treasury spokesman Andrew Pratt pointed out how the fiscal year 2010 budget when Christie took office was $32.151 billion. That figure represented the adjusted budget as of March 16, 2010, according to a Treasury report at the time.
The governor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 is $32.146 billion, according to a recent budget summary. "As such, his statement is true," Pratt told us.
So, the proposed budget is roughly $5 million less than the "level of state spending" when Christie took office, marking a decrease of 0.016 percent. That’s not a lot of money, but it still means Christie’s statement is correct.
But there’s a major reason for why the fiscal year 2010 budget was larger than the proposed budget for fiscal year 2013: federal stimulus dollars.
That adjusted budget of $32.151 billion for fiscal year 2010 included $2.289 billion worth of appropriations supported by stimulus funds. Those stimulus funds were used to help close a projected budget shortfall.
Without those stimulus dollars, the proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 would be larger than the budget in place when Christie took office.
In his Feb. 21 budget speech, Christie claimed in regard to his proposed fiscal year 2013 budget: "While this represents minimal growth from last year, it is still below the level of state spending when I took office."
According to state Treasury documents, Christie is accurate. The proposed budget is $32.146 billion -- about $5 million less than the $32.151 billion spending plan in place when Christie took office.
We rate the statement True.
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