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N.J. February Revenue Helps Cut Shortfall to $194 Million

New Jersey’s February revenue came in 9.5 percent ahead of projections, helping to narrow the current fiscal year’s shortfall to $194 million, according to Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff’s office.

Monthly collections were 8.3 percent higher than in February 2012, according to data released by the treasurer’s office. For the eight months ended Feb. 28, revenue remains 1.3 percent under Governor Chris Christie’s goal, the data show.

Christie, 50, a Republican seeking re-election in November, signed a $31.7 billion budget in June that counted on revenue increasing more than 8 percent in fiscal 2013. Midway through the year, collections lagged targets by as much as $426 million. Christie had said his administration would consider mid-year budget cuts if the gap didn’t close.

“The steady gains we have been seeing over the past three months add up to a very encouraging trend,” Sidamon-Eristoff said in a statement today.

State-tax collections have beat Christie’s targets for three straight months after missing projections for five in a row. “We have a trend,” the governor told reporters in Robbinsville today.

Income taxes, the state’s largest revenue source, led the February growth. Collections were 5.3 percent more than Christie’s budgeted amounts.

Christie said the most encouraging part of the revenue report was the increase in the realty transfer tax, which is paid when real estate transactions are completed. Collections jumped more than 50 percent in February, a sign that a turnaround in the housing market is starting, Charles Steindel, the administration’s chief economist, said in the statement.

“We’re likely to end this fiscal year within striking distance of where the governor’s administration said we would,” said Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, a Republican from Little Silver who serves as his party’s budget officer.

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