By Angela Delli Santigeoff Mulvihill
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) â€” Some New Jersey Democratic lawmakers tried to put up a roadblock Thursday to passing a state budget, even as their colleagues were advancing a list of spending additions to the $32 billion plan.
In an 8-5 vote, the state Senate’s budget committee passed the bill. It’s set to be considered by the full Senate Monday.
Meanwhile, nine Assembly Democrats said they will withhold their votes on the state budget unless a contentious plan to reconfigure New Jersey’s higher education system is delayed.
It’s not clear how it will turn out. The Assembly budget committee, which had planned a hearing on the budget for Thursday night, instead decided to leave it until Friday morning.
If it works, the gambit could either push back a decision on how to align Rutgers and Rowan universities and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey or force the Democratic majority to search for at least two Republicans to support their budget plans. There are 48 Democrats in the Assembly, where a bill needs 41 votes to pass.
Assembly Budget Committee chairman Vincent Prieto said he’s confident Democrats will muster the needed 41 votes. He didn’t specify how.
The university restructuring legislation is not scheduled for hearings in the Assembly. However, the budget panel will consider a bill raising taxes on millionaires. The $789 million in extra revenue would restore a popular property tax rebate program. Gov. Chris Christie previously vetoed a similar bill.
Democrats who control both chambers of the Legislature want to return $66 million in revenue from utility taxes to municipalities, increase a tax credit for the working poor, bump up state aid to nursing homes and add $7 million to pay for women’s health services.
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