- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Highlights of the New Jersey state budget that Republican Gov. Chris Christie proposed Tuesday for the fiscal year starting July 1:

TOTAL SPENDING: $34.4 billion, which is up by $1.2 billion over the current year’s adjusted budget. If it passes at this size, it would be the state’s largest budget ever and the first since the Great Recession to eclipse the fiscal 2008 spending total of $33.6 billion.

PROJECTED REVENUE GROWTH: Nearly 6 percent. The state expects income tax revenue to grow by more than 8 percent. Because the state has a highly progressive system, taxing high-earners at higher rates, income tax revenue in New Jersey can grow faster than the economy as a whole.

TAXES: Christie has not revived a proposal to cut taxes. He made a proposal to do so in 2012, but it was thwarted by lawmakers. He has frequently talked of reviving the idea.

PENSION CONTRIBUTION: The state would make a $2.25 billion contribution to the pension funds for public employees in the fourth year of a seven-year phase in to meet the full obligation. Over the last two decades, the state has often skimped on or skipped payments.

EDUCATION: The state’s funding for public education through high school - which makes up more than one-third of the budget - would increase by about 4 percent. Christie says every school district would receive increases - and not just the symbolic $1 increases that scores of districts got last year.

LONGER SCHOOL HOURS: Of the education funding, $5 million would be used to pay for local school districts’ efforts to lengthen school days or years. The money would be awarded through competitive grants.

HIGHER EDUCATION: Including aid to public colleges and universities, student financial assistance and debt-service for college-building projects, the state would put $2.3 billion toward higher education, an increase of 7 percent.

HOSPITALS: Hospitals would get $985 million, exactly the same amount in fiscal 2015 as they’re getting in 2014. But there is one slight shift - the charity care program would be cut by $25 million, and University Hospital in Newark would have its aid increased by the same amount.