Administration projects revenue shortfall of $676 million

The administration is projecting a revenue shortfall of $676 million through Fiscal Year 2013, a little over half the revenue miss of $1.3 billion predicted earlier today by the Office of Legislative Services.

According to an administration source with knowledge of the revenue projections, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon Eristoff will present plans to close the gap before the Assembly Budget Committee Wednesday.

The revenue shortfall for the two fiscal years amounts to about 1 percent of the overall budget, the source stressed.

Earlier Tuesday, OLS budget chief David Rosen predicted that revenues for the two-year period would be off $1.3 billion. It’s not the first time OLS and the administration have differed on revenue projections.  Last year, Rosen predicted a spike in revenue for the final two months of Fiscal Year 2011 that was $400 million more than administration projections.

Ultimately, Gov. Chris Christie is responsible for certifying state revenue figures and his certified numbers will be used in next year’s budget.

But Democrats have already begun to use the OLS numbers to cast doubt on the “Jersey Comeback” storyline Christie has been pitching througout the year.

Administration spokesman Kevin Roberts responded to the OLS numbers earlier Tuesday, saying the non-partisan agency is notorious for missing revenue projections.  Last year, OLS predicted the state would see an additional $913 million in revenue thorugh Fiscal Year 2012, while Sidamon-Eristoff put the windfall at $511 million.

“OLS has a long history of being all over the map when it comes to revenue projections and tomorrow will apparently be no exception,” Roberts said. “You simply can’t rely on OLS’ wildly fluctuating projections when one year they’re overestimating and the next they’re underestimating.  Consider this, if we had adopted OLS’s revenue estimates last year instead of our own, we’d be facing an additional $800 million problem for this year alone.  It’s a good thing we didn’t let the Democrats cram in another $1 billion in spending on top of base projections just so they could again pursue a reckless agenda of spending money we didn’t have.”

In Christie’s February budget message he predicted revenue growth of 7.3 percent, which according to the Star Ledger was the most ambitious projection of any state in the nation.

Included in the governor’s projections is a 10 percent across the board income tax cut.  Democrats have come up with two competing proposals, but the revenue figures have put any tax cut in jeopardy, regardless of partisanship.

Last week, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Gov. Chris Christie were reportedly prepared to announce a deal that would have provided a 10 percent credit against the first $10,000 in property taxes for taxpayers earning less than $400,000.

The deal was scuttled after several legislative Democrats squawked internally that they had had no input into the decision.  

Administration projects revenue shortfall of $676 million