About 35,000 people rallied outside the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton on Saturday after Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed a progressive attempt to fix the state’s budget crisis. New Jersey is facing a projected $10.7 billion budget deficit due to the recession, and to close it, progressive state legislators passed a bill creating a new tax bracket on residents making more than $1 million. The state’s nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services estimates that the new tax would lead a household making $1.2 million annually to pay only $11,598 more a year. Yet Christie vetoed the bill, despite the fact that the state has the “second-highest personal income in the country.” Instead, the governor has proposed massive cuts to public services, like an $820 million reduction in the state’s education budget, and ending millions of dollars of aid to cash-strapped municipalities.
On Saturday, 35,000 New Jerseyans, outraged at Christie’s choice to protect the wealthiest citizens of his state rather than its schools and infrastructure, demonstrated outside the statehouse, chanting, “We are not the problem.” It was “one of the largest protests ever in the state.” Christie, meanwhile, was at a bill signing at a racetrack where he simply dismissed the protests. “I’m here. They’re there. Have a nice day,” he said. The massive rally is particularly significant when compared to the right-wing Tea Party protests, which the media have covered obsessively. At a Tea Party rally in Trenton last month, police estimated that, at a maximum, only 400 people attended. Which means that at the very least, the protesters marching against Christie’s budget cuts and for decent investment in public infrastructure outnumbered the anti-government tea party protesters 87-to-1.