As reported by nj.com, the State’s top legislative budget officer will tell lawmakers that Governor Chris Christie’s revenue figures for the next 13 months will fall short by nearly $1 billion. The gap may be shorter if Christie revises his revenue projections downward, an unlikely move as the Governor spent the last week boasting about the dip in the State’s unemployment rate and a surge in income tax collections. “Obviously, we disagree and the treasurer will be before the committee to discuss his forecast,” Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said.
In April, David Rosen, the budget officer for the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services, predicted Christie’s revenue figures for the remainder of the current fiscal year and the upcoming year were $637 million too high, drawing a fresh round of criticism from the Christie administration. But, even as the State’s economy seem to be picking up steam, Rosen now expects the shortfall to be $937 million. “Compared to the revenue forecasts provided in the February Governor’s Budget Message, we anticipate $444 million less revenue in FY2013 and $492 million less in FY2014, for a two year gap of $937 million. Six weeks ago that gap was $637 million,” Rosen told lawmakers.
Christie has proposed a $32.9 billion budget for the upcoming year that begins on July 1. State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon Erstoff and Rosen each will testify before the Senate Budget Committee, offering their latest revenue projections.
Rosen did not tell lawmakers the reason for the increase, but he has warned in the past that his projections would weaken if the administration could not justify a $180 million jump in casino revenue from online gaming. A deal that would have brought online gaming to Atlantic City sooner fell through in recent weeks.
Figures released last week show that April’s revenue collections outpaced projections, marking the fifth consecutive month that has happened. At the same time, the State’s unemployment rate fell below 9 percent for the first time in four years.
Last year, Rosen said Christie’s revenue projections were about $1.3 billion too high, causing the Governor to call the budget officer the “Dr. (Jack) Kevorkian of the numbers” and wonder aloud why he still had a job. Sluggish revenue figures have already forced the Governor to revise his projections downward, scrap his pledge to borrow less for transportation projects and delay property tax rebates.