Budget hearing curtains set to rise

TRENTON – Assembly lawmakers may be hearing this week from the state Treasurer on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, but it’s still too early to tell how things will shake out over the next couple of months.

That’s the message, at least, from the chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee – which will get its chance to hear from Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff the following week.

“It’s really too early to tell,” said Sen. Paul Sarlo, (D-36), adding that while “top lines [of the budget] look good right now,” the real discussions won’t take place until Sidamon-Eristoff certifies the final numbers in mid-May.

But despite being weeks away from the in-depth budget negotiations, Sarlo pointed to some areas Democratic lawmakers are likely to steer questioning toward when taking testimony from the Republican governor’s administration.

“Clearly, some of the issues that are still out there – revenue certifications, growth for the budget next year and school funding – are all issues that we’re going to be focusing on,” he said.

“All of these discussions are going to be made,” he added. “But we’re in the early stages yet.”

While Assembly lawmakers will hear from Sidamon-Eristoff and the Office of Legislative Services on the FY 2014 budget on Thursday, state senators will get their first glimpse into detailed budget reviews Wednesday.

Sarlo’s committee will take testimony from the Department of Transportation, New Jersey Transit and the Motor Vehicle Commission.

“We start with transportation,” he said. “The discussion tomorrow will center on long-term sustainability in regards to transportation funding.”

Sarlo added he expects to have “a healthy discussion” on things including transportation trust funding.

The committee is slated to meet at 11 a.m.

  Budget hearing curtains set to rise