TRENTON – The chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee came to the defense of the Office of Legislative Services’ budget and finance officer Monday.
Sen. Paul Sarlo, (D-36), was quick to come to the defense of David Rosen after the budget officer delivered his testimony on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget to the Senate committee.
Last week, Rosen first told Assembly lawmakers his office foresees a $637 million shortfall over this fiscal year and into the next fiscal year. OLS projects a $302 million revenue shortfall for the remaining months of the current fiscal year.
Today, Rosen delivered the same testimony to the Senate.
“You thought fiscal year revenues would be $153 million less than [the governor’s revised figures and] … at that point in time you were called the Dr. Kevorkian of numbers and you were attacked by the administration,” said Sarlo, referring to statements made by Gov. Chris Christie after Rosen projected the shortfall in May 2012.
“The actual number … was even higher than what you were publically chastised for,” Sarlo continued, adding, “Did you receive an apology?”
Rosen was also prodded by Sarlo to discuss how cooperative Christie’s administration has been with the non-partisan office.
“This administration has not been interested in that collaborative effort,” said Rosen, explaining over the course of his tenure he has worked collaboratively with administrations from both political parties.
“It puts us in an unfortunate situation in that, literally, I can’t explain to you why our forecasts are different,” he said. “I would prefer that the discussion and the debate … be about the substance of the revenue forecast and that has not been the case.”
However, the administration has claimed that OLS is an arm of the Democratic Party in the state, and that message was not lost in Republicans’ line of questioning for Rosen.
“As I’m reading your prepared comments, … I pick up a tone of antagonism and snarkiness on your part,” Sen. Kevin O’Toole, (R-40), said.
O’Toole grilled Rosen on historical gaps between OLS and different administrations, explaining the revenue and budget figure gaps between OLS forecasts and the current administration have been narrower than compared to other administrations.
“We have never suggested that there was a major divide,” Rosen responded. “We simply come before the committee and give you our information and you use it as you chose. We didn’t pick a fight.”