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In budget address, Christie expands Medicaid, touts job creation

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Gov. Chris Christie today laid out a $32.9 billion budget plan that keeps state spending below 2008 levels, while agreeing to expand Medicaid and touting his administration's record of creating private-sector jobs.

The budget plan also includes $200 million in business tax relief, a major point of interest for the business community and the continuation of reforms the governor enacted when first taking office.

The governor said the expansion of Medicaid to another 104,000 residents of New Jersey — an option offered to governors as part of the Affordable Care Act — is the right course for the state, though he noted he remains opposed to the program personally.

"I am no fan of the Affordable Care Act," Christie said in today's address. "I think it is wrong for New Jersey and for America. I fought against it and believe, in the long run, it will not achieve what it promises."

In a speech that was part budget plan and part campaign speech, Christie outlined some of the accomplishments of his administration, including the property tax cap achieved through bipartisan efforts with legislative Democrats and the creation of more than 100,000 private-sector jobs since taking office.

Hurricane Sandy was another major theme of the speech, with Christie calling for a $40 million contingency fund for expenses not reimbursed by the federal government. Christie said he hoped such a fund would keep recovery moving quickly and "allow us to get small businesses back on their feet, without delay."

The governor also brought up the 10 percent income tax cut he floated in his State of the State address last year.

"I will not shut down the budget process to continue this argument," Christie said today. "But, if you change your mind and concur with my conditional veto, my administration will figure out how to pay for this long-overdue tax relief."

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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