To follow up on of one our previous posts, has reported that the New Jersey Assembly passed several bills yesterday to combat the revenue shortfalls plaguing the State’s finances and scrutinize corporate tax breaks.  The legislation would force the Governor to collaborate on revenue forecasts and plan for shortfalls, clearly identify any new source of revenue over $1 million, and effectively prepare report cards on economic development programs.

Included in the package is a budget reform bill (A4326) that would create a joint legislative and executive advisory board to predict the tax dollars that will flow into State coffers.  That bill passed 42-31.  The Governor would keep his power to certify revenues, but he would have to explain any differences between his revenues and the advisory board’s.  When actual tax collections fail to live up to forecasts, Governor Chris Christie has slashed spending to balance the budget.  Last year, he cut more than $2 billion in expected payments to public worker pensions.

Christie has amassed a poor record on predicting revenues, said Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families Alliance.  “The reality has been that we have very high, sometimes you would argued unrealistic, budget projections, that on the front end facilitate additional giveaways to corporations, additional giveaways to those who need it less, additional tax breaks to the most wealthy.  And then when it’s time to pay the pieper, the budget has to be balanced on the backs of working families and workers,” she said.

In addition to speeding up monthly revenue reports, which often arrive too late for the Legislature to effectively react to them, Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) said, the bill requires the Governor to prepare for shortfalls of more than 3 percent.  Another bill (A3311) requiring the Governor to spell out in his budget message any new revenue sources that will more than $1 million passed the Assembly 72-0.

Corporate tax breaks would receive greater scrutiny under a bill (A939), which heads to the Governor’s desk after a 43-31 vote, strengthening the reporting requirements for these economic development programs. “There needs to be better data to assess the success of these multi-billion dollar programs and whether they’re paying off for the State’s economy,” said Gordon MacInnes, President of New Jersey Policy Perspective.  “We need to have much more information on what is the single arrow in New Jersey’s quiver to try and crawl out of the recession.”

The speakers urged Christie to sign the bills, which they said fit with his campaign promises to overhaul fiscal responsibility and transparency in Trenton.  “He said he was going to turn Trenton upside down,” Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) said.  “This should be part of it.”

Please continue to check this blog periodically for updates regarding these bills.

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Photo of Donald C. Barbati Donald C. Barbati

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues…

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues litigated before the courts and administrative tribunals throughout the State of New Jersey. In addition, Mr. Barbati also routinely represents individuals in various types of public pension appeals, real estate transactions, and general litigation matters. He is a frequent contributor to the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog, a free legal publication designed to keep New Jersey public safety officers up-to-date and informed about legal issues pertinent to their profession. During his years of practice, Mr. Barbati has established a reputation for achieving favorable results for his clients in a cost-efficient manner.

Mr. Barbati has also handled numerous novel legal issues while representing New Jersey Public Safety Officers. Most notably, he served as lead counsel for the Appellants in the published case In re Rodriguez, 423 N.J. Super. 440 (App. Div. 2011). In that case, Mr. Barbati successfully argued on behalf of the Appellants, thereby overturning the Attorney General’s denial of counsel to two prison guards in a civil rights suit arising from an inmate assault. In the process, the Court clarified the standard to be utilized by the Attorney General in assessing whether a public employee is entitled to legal representation and mandated that reliance must be placed on up-to-date information.

Prior to becoming a practicing attorney, Mr. Barbati served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Linda R. Feinberg, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer Vicinage. During his clerkship Mr. Barbati handled numerous complex and novel substantive and procedural issues arising from complaints in lieu of prerogative writs, orders to show cause, and motion practice. These include appeals from decisions by planning and zoning boards and local government bodies, bidding challenges under the Local Public Contract Law, Open Public Records Act requests, the taking of private property under the eminent domain statute, and election law disputes. In addition, Mr. Barbati, as a certified mediator, mediated many small claims disputes in the Special Civil Part.

Mr. Barbati received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, magna cum laude, from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Upon graduating, Mr. Barbati attended Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware. In 2007, he received his juris doctorate, magna cum laude, graduating in the top five percent of his class. During law school, Mr. Barbati interned for the Honorable Joseph E. Irenas, Senior United States District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey, assisting on various constitutional, employment, and Third Circuit Court of Appeals litigation, including numerous civil rights, social security, and immigration cases.