The New Jersey Assembly last week followed the Senate's lead in passing a fiscal 1993 budget, but it remained unclear Friday whether Gov. Jim Florio would veto the package.
The Assembly vote, 56 to 21, was largely along party lines and followed by several hours the 23-to-13 vote in the Senate on Thursday. The margin of victory in the Assembly was large enough to over-ride a potential veto from the governor, but the Senate vote is four shy of the necessary two-thirds margin.
Gov. Florio did not say whether he would block the budget, but administration officials have made it clear they object to many aspects of the Republican-inspired $14.6 billion package. By law, a balanced budget must be in place by midnight tomorrow.
The governor said last week that, although he feels the budget in its current form is unbalanced and inflicts too much pain on state residents through spending cuts, he might sign the budget anyway to avoid the fiscal chaos that would result from a missed deadline.
Previous governors have used their line-item veto power to selectively edit the Legislature's spending plan, but none has vetoed an entire budget outright.
Gov. Florio said the Legislature's decision to cut $1.1 billion in spending from the package he proposed earlier this year would force the state to lay off an unprecedented number of state employees. Republicans say his figures are exaggerated.
In addition, state Treasurer Samuel Crane has said Republican miscalculations mean there is actually $226 million less in revenues than needed to balance the budget. That means the state will have no surplus again next year, a fact Mr. Crane said could prompt the rating agencies to downgrade the state.
The plan also includes a controversial $608 million sales tax cut. The governor vetoed the legislation needed for that move last month, but the Legislature overrode him.
In addition to a line-item veto or a veto of the package as a whole, the governor is permitted to conditionally veto the budget, which means he agrees to the plan only if certain conditions are met first.
Gov. Florio released a statement late Friday afternoon saying he would meet over the weekend with lawmakers and leaders of special interest groups who have expressed concern about the size of the budget cuts. He said his goal would be to find a way to implement the budget without inflicting "overly severe cuts" on particular groups or projects.
But the governor's statement did not rule out a veto.
"Legal staff is examining what options will be available for operating state government in the event there is no budget in effect after the July 1 deadline," the statement says.