Saying Democrats lied about wanting a tax cut, Christie said of Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo (D., Bergen): "You've got to be one arrogant SOB to tell the people of New Jersey he'll decide when you've been good enough to get some of your money back."
But that's not exactly what Sarlo or the Democrats said. Democrats decided to cut taxes only if revenues in the coming months indicate the state can afford it.
"It's become a badge of honor to have the governor call you a name, but I will not resort to name-calling out of my respect for the office," Sarlo said in a statement.
"But clearly, the governor's words show that we're winning the argument of fiscal responsibility. In doing this, the governor makes his name-calling the story, pulling the headlines - and the attention of the press corps and residents - away from the questionable fiscal underpinnings of his tax cut."
In February, Christie proposed a 10 percent across-the-board income-tax cut. Democrats, arguing that income taxes are not New Jerseyans' main problem, proposed giving income-tax credits based on property taxes. Negotiations began.
"And it sounded like we all agreed, we were talking the same language," Christie said. "But you know what? I got fooled."
Christie's tax cut was based on major increases in revenue in the next fiscal year. By May, revenue projections were coming in far lower than once anticipated. So Democrats balked, saying the state couldn't afford a tax cut.
Still, they set aside $183 million in the $31.7 billion budget plan that both houses of the Legislature passed Monday might. They said they would use that money for a property-tax cut in January if Christie's ambitious revenue projections hit the mark - but they did not put that promise in writing, or in a bill. In addition, the wealthy would not qualify for the cut.
"Guess what, pal?" Christie said. "It's not your job to let you decide if I get my money back. I earned it. Give me my tax cut now."
Christie plans to repeat that refrain this summer during what he is calling "the Corzine Democrats' summer tour." (For the last several weeks, Christie has been putting the name of former Gov. Jon S. Corzine in front of "Democrats.")
"And get ready because it will be entertaining," he said. It "will not be nearly as exciting as Bruce Springsteen's summer tour," but "I'm going all over the place, and I'm going to make sure everyone understands that these folks lied to you and lied to me."
Christie's promises to "fight" brought ovations from a jam-packed middle school gymnasium in Ocean County. Christie said he can't travel much this summer because his four children have so many activities, such as field hockey camp, so he will have plenty of time to attack Democrats.
Christie rehashed his famous line from last summer in the lead-up to Hurricane Irene, but added a twist. He told New Jerseyans that if they see lawmakers down the Shore this summer, they should tell them: "Get the hell off the beach and go back to Trenton and vote for my tax cut. Right now."
For now, Christie can sign the Democrats' budget as is or with line-item vetoes of spending he doesn't like.
To get his tax cut, he could conditionally veto another bill on taxation - such as a Democratic tax on millionaires that he has vetoed before - and replace all the wording with his tax cut.
Speaking on NJTV Tuesday night, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) said he thought Christie would line-item veto the budget.
And Sweeney said that if revenue figures come in as the governor predicted they would, Democrats will give New Jerseyans a tax cut.
"I'm actually rooting that the numbers work out and the economy turns so that we see more people working in this state," he said.
Contact Matt Katz at 609-217-8355 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @mattkatz00. Read his blog, "Christie Chronicles," at www.philly.com/ChristieChronicles.
Inquirer staff writer Joelle Farrell contributed to this article.