Revenue report adds fuel to debate over a tax cut proposal

TRENTON – A continued showdown between legislative Democrats and Gov. Chris Christie over a tax cut proposal appears to be on the horizon.

News that state revenues continue to lag behind the administration’s projections have again cast doubt over whether legislators in the Democrat-controlled Senate and Assembly will come to terms on a tax cut proposal with the Republican governor.

“We need to take a closer look, but if what we’re hearing is correct and if you include the shortfall from last fiscal year, New Jersey is $415 million short,” stated Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-32), chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, responding to news from the state Treasurer that year to date revenue collections are off nearly $175 million from projections.

“That’s scary, and it’s not even Halloween yet,” he said. “We’re going to continue to monitor the situation and act responsibly.”

Christie has been hammering legislative Democrats in recent months for their refusal to send a tax cut plan to his desk. But while the governor has railed in favor of the cuts, Democrats put the brakes on the measure, saying they will wait until year end to gauge the state’s fiscal picture before considering the cut.

The chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee echoed Prieto’s concerns.

“The governor has said he doesn’t care about monthly revenue figures, but he really should start taking an interest in them,” said Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36) in a statement.

“With the state staring down a potential billion-dollar hole, the last thing any other governor should do is sit around and just wait for things to change,” Sarlo said. “With unemployment close to 10 percent and a mortgage foreclosure crisis, and amidst downgrade warnings from Wall Street, it would behoove this governor to spend more time at home working on problems here in New Jersey.”

Related story:

Revenue off $175 million on the year

"He evolves like any other politician who knows how to flip a foe into a friend when necessary. He’ll do whatever it takes to survive."
—Bergen Record columnist Charles Stile, on Gov. Christie's sudden embrace of the way unemployment data is collected