N.J. budget shortfall grows to $800 million
APRIL 28, 2014, 5:27 PM LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, APRIL 28, 2014, 11:06 PM
BY JOHN REITMEYER
STATE HO– USE BUREAU
Governor Christie’s predictions for tax collections have missed the mark, amounting to an $800 million shortfall that leaves little time and few places for the governor and lawmakers to find savings.
Christie, a Republican who preaches fiscal discipline, has been forced into several budget fixes in recent years to offset missed revenue projections and not break the state constitution’s requirement for a balanced budget. Last year, Treasury delayed about $400 million in property tax relief, and earlier this year the state cut spending by $700 million through a series of lapses and other adjustments.
On Monday, state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff announced the latest bad fiscal news and warned of new budget cuts and “impounding budgeted appropriations.” He said more details would be released in a few weeks.
In past years, governors have delayed school aid and held back pension contributions to alleviate last-minute shortfalls. Sidamon-Eristoff would only say Monday that budget changes will be announced when he comes before lawmakers again on May 21 and 22.
“The state will take any and all actions necessary to offset the reductions in anticipated revenues, including the identification of additional lapses and savings opportunities, as well as the exercise of the full range and scope of executive authority, including, but not limited to, reserving and/or impounding budgeted appropriations,” Sidamon-Eristoff said in a news release.
Christie’s prior budget changes drew the attention of Wall Street ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, which cited the governor’s “bullish revenue assumptions” and the frequent use of “one-time measures” as factors in the downgrading of New Jersey’s credit rating announced earlier this month.
The agency also warned another ratings downgrade could come if forecasted growth estimates “fail to materialize.”
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