An estimated crowd of 30,000-35,000 protesters rallied against Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s budget cuts on Saturday. One of the signs a protester held said, “New Jersey’s Biggest Loser, Steal from the Poor. … Give to the Rich.”
According to media reports, the protesters were the largest crowd to rally in the history of New Jersey.
In addition to layoffs, one item the crowd was protesting was Christie’s executive decisions on fiscal reform, including his rejection of the A-10 bill to increase taxes for people with incomes over a million dollars. He vetoed the measure on May 20. Christie also rejected the A-20 bill to increase prices on pharmaceutical prescription drugs for the elderly, and decided to deal with the deficit by imposing budget cuts and layoffs.
“I believe that this bill does nothing more than repeat the failed,” said Christie in his address to the New Jersey state general assembly about the A-10 bill.
If passed, the bill would have been the 116th tax increase in New Jersey in the past eight years. The state is known for having the heaviest taxation in the whole country.
Communications Workers of America, a telecommunications union, and other religious, environmental, and labor groups joined the protest that started off earlier than planned, with people gathering at 10 a.m.
According to AP, Bill Holland, a spokesman for Better Choices for New Jersey, said that over 100 community organizations endorsed the rally. He said that the main message was to stop budget cuts and reinstate a tax on people with incomes over $400,000 a year.
Schools will suffer a decrease of around a billion dollars in funding this year if the legislature does not pass the bills. “Layoffs will mean a massive increase in class sizes for all students, legislature needs to stand up and take this seriously,” said Steve Baker, Spokesman for New Jersey Education Association, who attended the rally.
Baker said that the rally was really impressive, because only 20,000 people were expected but more than the reported 35,000 showed up because buses kept on arriving. “When that many people come out, the legislature ignores that kind of action at its peril,” he told the Epoch Times.