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NJ Budget Officials Forecast Shows Lower Revenue

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Legislature's chief budget officer says New Jersey has achieved only half of the $1 billion in revenue growth Gov. Chris Christie anticipated for this fiscal year.

David Rosen says revenue is rising too slowly to hit the projected targets, though no fiscal meltdown is occurring. He believes revenue collections will be off by $1.3 billion through July 2013.

State Treasurer Andrew Eristoff expects the budget gap to be about $676 million.

Rosen presented his revised budget forecast to the Assembly Budget Committee Wednesday.

This is not the first indication that state revenues were not meeting projected goals. As WNYC reported in March, Rosen indicated that revenues would be lower.

The bi-partisan research arm of New Jersey's Legislature presented figures Tuesday that contradict revenue estimates from the Christie Administration.

The governor’s budget proposal inflated its estimate of how much money the state will collect over the next 15 months by more than half a billion dollars, according to David Rosen,  budget and finance officer for the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services. He projects New Jersey will take in $537 million less in taxes and fees than the administration forecasts.

Christie had some harsh words for the Office of Legislative Services, which made the projections, as well as Democratic lawmakers who say the state can't afford tax cuts.

The governor called the OLS "the handmaid to the majority." Christie commented further, saying that no one believes its projections, which are some $600 million lower than Christie's for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

He's planning on going on the offensive, and will ramp up his town-hall meetings to try to sell the public on tax cuts between now and June 30, when the state budget is required to be adopted.

The Legislature is receiving the adjusted calculations before beginning negotiations on Christie's proposed state budget. Many Democrats have expressed concerns about the revised numbers, and some have seized on those numbers to push for changes to a possible tax compromise.

Democrats argue the report is evidence that Christie’s tax plans aren’t sustainable, and prefer a proposal that doesn’t extend the cuts to high-income earners and gives relief to seniors.
“These numbers are cause for concern,” said Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “We must move forward responsibly, and that means doing so with a reliable property tax relief plan premised on economic fairness and significant help for the middle-class and senior and disabled citizens.”

Christie and the Democrats who control the Legislature have until June 30 to strike a deal on the spending plan.

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