Yesterday at the budget hearings, the Senate Budget Committee heard testimony from OLS chief David Rosen and State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff on the governor’s budget projections. Rosen said he anticipated a two-year $937 million gap in revenue figures. Sidamon-Eristoff lowered his estimates by $165 million and then he took some heat from Democrats in the legislature. NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider spoke to the Republican budget officer in the Assembly — Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) — for his reaction to the downgraded revenue projections.
O’Scanlon said he wasn’t particularly surprised by the lower estimates, saying “it didn’t take a real divining of tea leaves to know that we are not going to have an easy road, probably for a number of years.”
He cited the state’s pension obligation as a significant reason for the shortfall.
“We are already making the largest pension payments in our history and those will ramp up and continue to ramp up over the next few years swallowing a lot of growth,” said O’Scanlon.
Still, O’Scanlon pointed out that the Democrats’ “sky is falling” prediction from last year never panned out, especially with regard to the Christie administration’s income tax projections.
“We exceed[ed] revenue for gross income tax,” he said. “So there’s areas we exceeded, there’s areas we didn’t. We know that we have to deal with these things.”
Today, OLS chief David Rosen adjusted his projections from yesterday, lowering the two-year revenue gap of $937 million to $700 million. In response, O’Scanlon quipped, “if we keep up with this pace, the budget will be just fine in a week or so.”
O’Scanlon emphasized that he has no issue with Rosen, characterizing his relationship with Rosen as professional and respectful. But when it comes to revenue numbers, he said he’ll stick with the administration’s projections.
“They have been so consistently accurate over the first three years of the administration,” said O’Scanlon. “This governor, in case no one has noticed, is more than wiling to deliver news — good or bad — and deal with it. And the people of New Jersey respect that, which is why he has 70 percent approval ratings. They’re ready to hear both good and bad news. Just tell it to them straight and they’ll deal with it, and this governor will not hesitate to let us know, as we go, how we’re doing and make adjustments if we need to.”