TRENTON – The state says there will be $30.33 billion available to fund the upcoming fiscal year’s budget. And that is almost $300 million less than what the Democrats envisioned in a spending plan unveiled Thursday.
Senate Democrats unveiled a budget proposal of over $30 billion that relies on Office of Legislative Services’ estimates of an $800 million revenue influx, while Gov. Chris Christie is using his Department of Treasury figures that put the windfall at $511 million.
Christie today certified the total funds available to be appropriated for the fiscal year 2012 state budget.
The certification, which could have an impact on the proposed budget being unveiled by Democrats, fulfills the constitutional obligation of the governor to provide an official revenue statement identifying the total amount of revenue available to meet appropriations, the state reported.
The governor’s certification reflects a total of $29,640,697,000 for the upcoming fiscal year budget, and $696,366,000 in undesignated fund balances, resulting in a combined total of $30,337,063,000.
The state said these figures comport with the May 17 budget hearing testimony of state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff.
The Office of Legislative Services had offered a different revenue estimate in May, $914 million than originally expected. The Treasurer had estimated $511 million in unexpected revenue.
The difference in projections had become a point of contention for Democrats seeking to restore funding for programs Christie has targeted.
“As required under our state Constitution and consistent with budget testimony delivered to the Legislature by the state Treasurer, I am submitting a certification of available revenue that is both realistic and achievable,” Christie said in a release. “Following modest revenue estimates that are based in reality is the only responsible course to avoid the same type of panicked, mid-year cuts that have plagued overly optimistic budget projections in prior years. That is our limit and our guidepost in developing a responsible, balanced and constitutional state budget.”
The Democrats’ budget plan unveiled Thursday would restore $1.1 billion in school funding, restore money cut from Medicaid, unfreeze the senior freeze program and restore money for family planning.
The party also plans to introduce a separate bill instituting a tax on incomes over $1 million. The tax would raise the effective rate on income over $1 million from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent. Sweeney said Thursday the new tax would add an average of $40,000 in taxes to about 16,000 taxpayers.
Sweeney said the budget will include an additional $800 million in expected revenue as well as $700 million he said Democrats found left over from the current fiscal year. He said the party also has identified $300 million in “efficiencies.” The millionaire’s tax would raise an additional $500 million to $550 million.
The Democrats’ Assembly Budget Chairman, Lou Greenwald, weighed in quickly with reaction.
“The governor, of course, has the right to certify revenues, but we disagree with him and have good reason to do so,” he said in a statement.
“Last year, the governor missed the mark on his revenue certification, and valuable programs such as property tax relief for senior citizens, health care for women and education for our children suffered because of it.
“We trust our own figures and remain hopeful the governor will put his obsession with building his national conservative credentials aside and instead do what’s right for working class residents and accept our spending plan.”