State beats revenue forecast for third month

Revenue for the month of February came in well above state forecasts, beating initial estimates by 9.5 percent.

February is the third month running that the state has beaten its initial forecasts, leaving revenues just 1.3 percent below estimates for the first eight months of the fiscal year.

In all, revenues hit $1.8 billion for the month, beating administration estimates by $156 million.  The bulk of the extra collections came in the form of income tax, which beat projections by $142 million for the month.

Other revenue, including corporate business tax and casino revenues missed the governor’s mark. 

To date, the state has collected $14.8 billion through February, off just 1.3 percent from the projected $15 billion in projected revenue.

For the year, however, only the state’s income tax collections and motor vehicle fees have lived up to expectations, with income tax up $344 million over projections year to date.  Corporate Businesses Taxes have missed projections by 17 percent on the year, while casino revenues are off 28 percent.  Last month, Revel, the casino that was supposed to revitalize Atlantic City, announced it was set to declare bankruptcy.  The casino will remain open under a restructured debt plan.

For the first five months of the fiscal year, revenues were well off the governor’s projections, which were the highest of any state in the country.  Critics called the estimates pie in the sky and said the state’s recovery was not progressing quickly enough to meet them.  Even credit analysts  warned the projections were lofty.

During a speech Wednesday Christie made clear the improving revenue picture has not gone unnoticed, telling reporters that the media and his critics would owe him an apology when all was said and done.

“That’s what the press likes to do and it’s certainly what our opponents like to do,” he said. “They like to call the game in the third quarter if it goes with their narrative. But the narrative is changing right under our feet. It’s changing as we speak.”

State beats revenue forecast for third month