TRENTON – Discussing the state budget before midnight is a rarity in New Jersey. Stating so much on the floor today, state Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-40) said, “It’s actually refreshing to be standing here in the light of day discussing the state budget.”
State Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-3) said from the head of the chamber, “Isn’t it cool?”
O’Toole replied, “In terms of the time of day, yeah, but in terms of the budget, it seems to be shrouded in politics.” Of note, he again referenced the majority’s use of more than $300 million in state revenue that the governor has not and will not certify. Another $300 million in question, O’Toole said, the Democrats are holding Christie accountable for based on previously expected savings from pension and benefits reform, even though the new estimate for savings is closer to $10 million in FY12.
Sarlo said the front office never rolled back its estimates until a letter was sent by the state Treasurer’s office last night. They “never sent (the letter) to my office,” Sarlo said, “never contacted me with a phone call…That’s an abdication of their responsibilities.”
O’Toole said it’s inconsistent of the Dems to rely on Office of Legislative Services revenue figures while ignoring the administration’s estimates, and at the same time accept the administration’s projections – dated as they are – of $300 million for pension and benefits reform while ignoring OLS projections of $10 million.
Also, the governor’s budget relied on $350 million in use of surplus funds, while the majority budget used nearly five times that amount, $1.73 billion.