TRENTON – Assembly Democrats pressed the case this morning that the governor’s proposed budget for next fiscal year is overly optimistic about the economy and relies too much on non-recurring, or so-called one-shot revenues.
Their Republican counterparts on the Budget Committee, however, defended Gov. Chris Christie’s approach as evidence that there is a structured plan finally in place to address the state’s problems in contrast to the Corzine administration’s way of dealing with issues.
Office of Legislative Services Budget Officer David Rosen appeared before the lower-chamber budget panel this morning after appearing Tuesday before the Senate budget committee, and the Assembly members used the projections made by the nonpartisan office to lay groundwork for how they will question the administration’s representative, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff, later today.
Among those on the attack for the Democrats was Gary Schaer, (D-36), Passaic, who argued that over a two-year period, bond indebtedness has not gone down, the Transportation Trust Fund lacks funds, the budget has a historically low 1 percent reserve, the pension fund liability remains, and Christie’s proposed budget includes $1.6 billion in non-recurring revenues.
“I put all of this together,’’ Schaer said, “and it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.”
But Declan O’Scanlon, (R-13), Red Bank was quick to respond.
The governor has a multiyear plan for transportation infrastructure that includes more of the ‘pay as you go’ approach, the pension obligation as a result of the bipartisan reforms will be 12 percent as opposed to 25 percent if no reforms had been enacted, and the last Corzine-era budget in fiscal year 2010 featured 13 percent in one-shot revenues, according to O’Scanlon.
“This administration,” he said, “In its third budget, has more than cut that in half.’’
But John Burzichelli, (D-3), West Deptford, said that the way he sees it, the use of non-recurring revenues from 2010 to now has grown by 500 percent, from $108 million to a proposed $642 million.
This partisan back-and-forth wrangling occurred in the aftermath of the governor on Tuesday labeling OLS a tool of the Democrats, which drew a rebuke from committee Chair Vincent Prieto, (D-32), Secaucus, as the hearing got under way.