N.J. Revenue May Fall $200 Million Below Christie Target

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

New Jersey’s revenue for the fiscal year that ended June 30 may trail Governor Chris Christie’s latest targets by as much as $200 million, according to the Legislature’s chief budget analyst.

The estimate is based on assumptions because last month’s tax collections are incomplete, David Rosen of the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services said in a memo to lawmakers. June sales taxes won’t be remitted to the state until July 20 and there may be transfers and adjustments to corporate collections, he said.

Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Christie, called Rosen’s note “rank speculation.” Collections in the state’s three biggest revenue sources are $85 million higher than estimates that state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff gave in May, Kevin Roberts, another Christie spokesman, said in an e-mail.

“The revenue picture for New Jersey at the close of fiscal year 2012 is actually stronger than last year and showing signs of continued growth,” Roberts said. “This isn’t based on revenue estimates, it’s based on the real numbers.”

Sidamon-Eristoff said in May that revenue through June 2013 would trail Christie’s initial target by $676 million, while Rosen has said the gap may be almost twice that size.

Tax Cut

Trailing collections led the Democratic-controlled Legislature to send Christie a $31.7 billion budget that delayed a tax cut until midway through this fiscal year, to see if revenue meets his targets.

The actual closing balance for fiscal 2012 won’t be known until the state releases its annual financial report in December, Rosen said.

Christie, 49, a first-term Republican, has promised to criticize Democrats in “every corner of this state” until they approve legislation enabling his tax cut to take effect. The plan would allow residents who qualify to write off 10 percent of real-estate levies against their state income taxes due in April 2013.

The governor has chided “Corzine Democrats,” a reference to former Governor Jon Corzine, who he defeated in 2009. Christie has said that in the eight years before he took office, the state raised taxes and fees 115 times.

Rosen’s latest estimates give lawmakers more reason to pause before approving a tax cut, said Assembly Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto, a Democrat from Secaucus.

“This just absolutely gives proof to why a tax cut right now couldn’t be done, and why we need to see if revenues are going to come in as projected,” Prieto said in a telephone interview.

Rosen’s earlier projection led Christie to call the analyst the “Dr. Kevorkian of the numbers,” a reference to the late physician who assisted suicides.

Roberts, the Christie spokesman, said that Rosen’s office “jumps the gun with a hasty and speculative analysis that takes a dour view of revenue figures in order to serve the agenda of Corzine Democrats.” Fiscal 2012 revenue is 3 percent higher than the previous year, he said.

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