Revenue off $175 million on the year

Year to date revenue collections are off nearly $175 million from projections, according to figures released by the Department of the Treasury Friday.

Sales tax collections made up the bulk of the revenue shortfall coming in at $94 million off projections for the first three months of the fiscal year.  Gross income tax receipts came in $7.8 million over estimates.

In all, the state has collected $4.22 billion in revenue on the year, 4 percent below Gov. Chris Christie’s projection of $4.40 billion.

In September, collections were off $75 million from projections, with sales tax falling $51 million short of the governor’s budgeted revenue.

Despite the revenue miss, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff painted a rosy picture of the state’s fiscal state, saying in a release that revenue collections are up 3.9 percent from a year ago.

“Income tax collections remain strong as the State’s economy continues to grow,” Sidamon-Eristoff said. “September sales tax and corporation business tax collections also rose substantially above last year’s levels.”

The revenue shortfall is sure to add fuel to the already raging debate over income tax cuts proposed by the governor earlier this year.  While Christie has railed in favor of the cuts, legislative Democrats put the brakes on the measure, saying they will wait until year end to gauge the state’s fiscal picture before considering the tax cut. 

Christie’s budget called for revenue growth of more than 7 percent, the largest projected increase in the nation, according to a Star Ledger analysis.  Democrats say they won’t consider the tax cut unless the actual collections come in close to projections.

Speaking to reporters during a Tuesday news conference, Christie said too much attention is being paid on what he says amounts to a small revenue gap and said residents are not buying Democrats’ half-hearted attempts at suddenly being fiscally conscience lawmakers.

“You guys want to micro-analyze the month-to-month numbers,” he said, referring to reporters. “Revenues are going to be what they’re going to be and I don’t worry about it.” 

Revenue off $175 million on the year