The governor's budget address has always been a day of haves and have nots.

During the current economic downturn, winners have been defined as those who don't lose as much as everyone else. And in some cases, losers can expect double-digit budget cuts.

It was no different this year, as Gov. Christie laid out a plan to bring the budget below $30 billion with a 2.6 percent cut in state spending.

In his speech Tuesday, Christie went right at public workers, extending a battle that has been waged since his gubernatorial campaign. He proposed that employees pay 30 percent of their health-care premiums.

Union leaders were quick to jump on the proposal as a "another millionaires' bailout paid for by New Jersey's working families," as Hetty Rosenstein, state director for the Communications Workers of America, put it in a statement.

Steve Demofonte, legislative chair of the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police, said he was waiting to see specifics on how the governor planned to cut pension benefits but was expecting the worst.

"His goal is to break the unions. There's no doubt about it," he said.

Medicaid also took deep cuts from Christie's budget knife.

Christie is proposing that state Medicaid spending come down $250 million, including measures such as moving more services under managed-care organizations.

Prescriptions, for instance, would need to be approved by an HMO before they could be filled at a pharmacy, said Ray Castro, a senior policy analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective.

"His biggest proposal is to restructure Medicaid. But we don't know what the changes will be," he said. "We support making the program more efficient, but there is a fine line between efficiency and a cutback in service."

State health care took another hit, with a 15 percent cut to the Department of Health and Senior Services.

A modestly sized agency already, the health department's biggest expenditure is providing long-term care to the elderly, Castro said.

Christie's speech extolled a new financial paradigm in which the realities of the struggling economy take precedence over continuing established state programs.

Hours after his speech, the question of what exactly would be cut was still being debated, as advocates combed through budget summaries looking for specifics.

In the case of a 10 percent cut to the Department of Environmental Protection, environmentalists were split over the impact.

The Sierra Club lambasted Christie for the continuation of what the group described as a more-than-a-decade-long staff reduction at the environmental agency.

Club executive director Jeff Tittel said the staff cuts "will in turn impact both the environment and the ability of businesses to get their permits reviewed."

But the New Jersey Environmental Federation had a different reading: "We understand debt restructuring has a lot to do with the 10 percent cut and the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection's core programs remain intact. It's early in the process, we're still reviewing the details," a statement read.