TRENTON – To no one’s surprise questions during today’s Assembly Budget Committee hearing on the Office of Legislative Services revenue projections broke out along party lines, with Democrats hammering on the predicted shortfall and the GOP focusing on good news.
Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon, (R-13), of Little Silver, said the $1.3 billion shortfall forecasted by OLS shows the risk of putting a greater dependence on high-income earners to close revenue shortfalls, due to high volatility. As a result, he said the millionaire’s tax that Democrats want to reinstate to close the shortfall would be unwise.
Unlike Gov. Chris Christie, who slammed OLS budget officer David Rosen during a speech at a transportation summit earlier today, GOP lawmakers were respectful of Rosen, while at the same time painting his revenue projection as a blip on the radar and perhaps overly pessimistic.
Assemblyman Jay Webber, (R-24), of Morris Plains focused on the energy tax shortfall, saying that while it created a problem for the people under the Golden Dome who are forced to budget with less revenue, it’s good news for consumers, small businesses and entrepreneurs since it means more money in their pockets.
Just after Rosen began his testimony, the governor’s office released a statement quoting various surveys and polls saying New Jersey is on the right track.
Assemblyman Gary Chiusano, (R-24), of Augusta latched onto those talking points to point out that despite any revenue miss, things in the state are still headed in the right direction.
Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, (R-26), of Boonton, also pointed to increased confidence by business owners on the state’s future economic health
“We certainly are optimistic about where our economy is headed, from information our CEOs are providing,” Bucco said. “They are going to invest in their businesses and that’s good news on a whole bunch of fronts. You don’t turn a train around overnight. The last thing we can afford to do now is to go back to where we were three years ago,” Bucco said, referring to the financial crisis.