Sarlo, Sidamon-Eristoff joust over revenue-projection outlook

TRENTON – Senate Budget and Appropriations Chair Paul Sarlo, (D-36), Wood-Ridge, and State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff don’t see eye to eye on budget revenue projections.

The departments of Treasury and Interdepartmental Accounts were being dealt with before the committee today.

Sarlo asked the treasurer if the department is optimistic about revenue projections, based on what he has seen thus far.

“It’s a matter of continuing concern,” Sidamon-Eristoff told Sarlo. “As I sit here today, we are right in the middle of a critical period…we’re watching closely, and obviously if there are any adjustments warranted in our projections for fiscal year 2012 or 2013, we will make (an announcement) before the committee.”

“Did you sleep well when we announced that we lost 8,600 jobs in March?” Sarlo said.

“I looked at it and thought to myself, if you look at the arc of the last 15 months, you can see there has been slow and steady progress on the job front,” Sidamon-Eristoff said. “It would be a mistake to draw premature conclusions from one month’s results.”

The governor’s proposed budget relies on what critics have called overly optimistic revenue projections.

Revenue collections for the first three quarters of the fiscal year are $263 million off the administration’s June projections, according to the Treasury Department. The administration has collected $16.082 billion to date, including $6.8 billion in income taxes.

Gov. Chris Christie has said he is still confident that the budget projections will be accurate.

“I know the governor calls it a Jersey Comeback,” Sarlo said. “I know it’s a great buzzword, it’s great for a national platform…but there are a lot of people still out of work in New Jersey.”

But Sidamon-Eristoff said he continues “to sleep very well.”

“I believe we are on the upswing and New Jersey is well positioned to take advantage of the recovery as it solidifies and accelerates,” he said.

“I don’t sleep as well as you do on this,” Sarlo said.

The treasurer also said his department, when asked by Sarlo if he had a “ballpark figure,” did not know how much the proposed higher education merger would cost his department in debt service costs.

Sarlo, Sidamon-Eristoff joust over revenue-projection outlook