April 30 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will
have a tough time closing a projected $807 million revenue
shortfall through the end of this fiscal year, Moody's Investors
Service said on Wednesday.
With only two months left in the fiscal year, about 83
percent of the budget is already spent. The large shortfall is
equal to 14.5 percent of the money the state has earmarked
through June 30, Moody's senior analyst Baye Larsen said.
Christie could cut operations or expenditures or use some of
the roughly $300 million expected to remain in the general fund.
His administration could also tap into $435 million in funds
outside the general fund, but the state would have to repay what
they borrowed from those funds with fiscal 2014 resources,
One-time budget gimmicks have already landed the state in
hot water with credit rating agencies. Standard & Poor's Ratings
Services downgraded New Jersey to A+ earlier this month, citing
revenue tricks, the state's sizable imbalance, "bullish" revenue
assumptions and pressure from growing pension obligations.
Moody's rates New Jersey Aa3 with a negative outlook. While
a shortfall was expected, the size of the gap was something of a
surprise and will exert continued pressure on the state's credit
standing. This marks the third consecutive year that revenues
have fallen below estimates.
About $700 million, or 85 percent, of New Jersey's
anticipated shortfall is due to lower-than-expected income tax
collections, the state treasurer's office said on Monday.
The state's progressive tax system relies heavily on
high-income taxpayers; many may have accelerated income into
2012 to sidestep pending increases in federal income taxes.
Full numbers for April collections, which are normally large
because of the income tax filing deadline, were not yet
State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff will provide details
of specific actions the state will take when he testifies on May
21 before lawmakers who are reviewing next year's budget.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Prudence Crowther)