New Jersey Needs $7.4 Billion to Sustain Programs, Report Says

New Jersey must raise $7.4 billion more for a 2016 budget that continues programs at current levels and meets all legal requirements, according to the legislature’s nonpartisan finance officer.

Republican Governor Chris Christie, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, will present his proposed spending plan Tuesday and he has warned of rising costs.

A full pension contribution for the year that begins July 1 would add $2.27 billion, while restoring money promised for property-tax rebates would cost $1.84 billion, according to a memorandum from David Rosen, budget and finance officer for the Democratic-led legislature. Rosen identified required spending increases of $8.55 billion, tempered by anticipated revenue growth of $1.2 billion.

Christie, a 52-year-old in his second term, faces rising pension costs after cutting back payments this fiscal year to close revenue shortfalls. The state also faces a depleted roadwork fund and increasing debt service.

Rosen’s memo, dated Jan. 14 and addressed to Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Gary Schaer, a Passaic Democrat, was obtained by Bloomberg News and reported earlier by the website NJ.com.

Rosen said in his memo that his estimate “is essentially an academic undertaking, dependent upon definitional assumptions and open to a range of defensible alternative conclusions.”

Neither Kevin Roberts and Michael Drewniak, spokesmen for Christie, nor Joseph Perone and Christopher Santarelli, spokesmen for the state Treasury Department, immediately responded to e-mailed requests for comment on the memorandum.

Debt payments and the costs of retiree pensions and health care, which Christie calls the legacy of poor choices by past administrations, consumed most new spending in the current $32.5 billion budget.

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