May 20 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's
administration on Monday cut state revenue projections through
fiscal 2014 by $165 million, in part because of lower
energy-related revenue, but the shortfall is not nearly as large
as projected by the Democratic-led legislature.
The cut to Christie's revenue forecast, which is less than a
fifth the size of the shortfall projected by legislative staff,
comes as he pushes again for a tax cut amid a big jump in
revenue from personal income taxes.
The revised number means that the state spending plan for
this fiscal year, which ends June 30, will shrink fractionally
to about $31.19 billion from $31.32 billion, State Treasurer
Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff told the state Senate Budget Committee.
As he pushes for his tax cut, Christie, who faces
re-election this fall and is seen as a likely Republican U.S.
presidential contender in 2016, has increasingly been at odds
with the legislature's budget office, which has forecast a lower
One big drag on revenue is energy taxes, which for a second
year in a row have come in lower than expected. That's due to
the warm winter, cheap natural gas, disruptions from Superstorm
Sandy in October and increased energy efficiency. Inheritance
transfer taxes and casino revenues have also lagged.
David Rosen, the legislature's longtime chief budget
officer, said on Monday that tax collections through the end of
the next fiscal year will fall nearly $937 million short of
Christie's February estimates - $444 million this year and $492
Rosen is still forecasting that revenue will grow in fiscal
2014, but not by as much as Christie estimates.
Revenue from the legalization of internet gambling is one
point of contention. Christie's administration thinks the state
can get $180 million through next year - an assumption
questioned by the legislature and not included in Rosen's
Democratic state Senator Paul Sarlo, chairman of the budget
committee, called Christie's hoped-for internet gambling revenue
"That number just doesn't make sense," he said, in part
because online gaming is months away from implementation.
The state must finalize a budget before July 1.
New Jersey has struggled more than some other U.S. states to
recover from the recession, though the last several months have
given it some good news. Like in other states, New Jersey's
jobless rate dropped, to 8.7 percent in April. That's still
higher than the U.S. average of 7.5 percent.
The state's personal income tax collections also rose in
April by 29 percent compared to the previous April, similar to
other states that expect the increase to be a onetime boon tied
to federal tax changes that became effective in January.
The Christie administration also hopes to get $120 million
"within days" for privatizing the sales and marketing components
of the state lottery, Sidamon-Eristoff said.