Lawmakers Debate Cause of Financial Situation During Assembly Budget Hearing

By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
NJ Today

In the morning session, the legislature’s non-partisan budget officer, David Rosen, compared his revenue estimate for next year with that of the governor’s budget message, or GBM as he called it.

“Over the two fiscal years, OLS projects $637 million less than does GBM,” Rosen said.

Gov. Chris Christie has called Rosen a partisan hack and the Dr. Kevorkian of the numbers.

Rosen alluded to that today.


“The relationship between OLS and the executive on revenue forecasting changes from time to time. I would say we are now at a point that is the least collaborative in the 15 or 20 years that I’ve been doing this,” Rosen said.

Assembly members used Rosen’s appearance to make partisan points.

Republicans blamed Democrats for lingering budget problems.

“When it comes to taxpayer debt, taxpayer money, the Democrats in the legislature treat it like a bottle of liquor. They talk about it like a bunch of Mormons. But they treat it like a bunch of drunken sailors,” Assemblyman Jay Webber said.

“We’re into year four of this administration. You have to pony up for what you are doing,” Assemblyman Vincent Prieto said. “Once you’re into year four of your administration, you know what? You’re responsible for a lot that you’ve done to get here.”

Democrats tried to poke holes in the Christie budget — for example on its three-month delay of the homestead benefit credit.

“So at the end of the day, we’re gypping our homeowners out of a homestead rebate because there’s no proposal for anything different than this one payment that is moving from 2013 to 2014,” Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman said.

When the state treasurer appeared for the afternoon session, Democrats went at the homestead benefit delay again.

“What we’ve done is in essence take what has been a state fiscal year program and changed it into a calendar year program. From the standpoint of our taxpayers, they still get a benefit in calendar 2013. This is only of course a one-time opportunity,” Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said.

“The word opportunity doesn’t quite fit with me for that household that’s gonna wait another quarter to get otherwise relief that’s so very important, and it means a lot to the governor as well and I know that because the property tax bills continue to nag us,” Assemblyman John Burzichelli said.

There were no fireworks at this Assembly hearing. The Senate Budget Committee gets its turn with the treasurer on Tuesday.