As N.J. lawmakers delve into budget, revenues pick up

    As New Jersey lawmakers begin dissecting Gov. Chris Christie’s budget plan, they’re encouraged by a pickup in revenues.

    Legislative budget officer David Rosen told the Senate Budget Committee revenue collections this year are expected to beat the June forecast by $100 million.

    Because of an improving economy, he said revenue is projected to grow by $1.1 billion in the next fiscal year.

    “It appears that the nation and the state are being spared the revenue shocks that marked the past several years,” said Rosen. “As a result, the fiscal year 2011 budget, unlike its recent predecessors, has not required midyear emergency surgery.”

    While Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo said he is encouraged by the pickup in revenue collections, he said he still has concerns.

    “Property taxes across the state last year went up 4 percent. When you factor in property tax rebates, it’s a 17 to 20 percent increase, the first time we’ve increased since 2007,” said Sarlo. “So, although revenues are starting to rebound, the picture is still not rosy.”

    Rosen, who said collections are still $4 billion less than they were in 2008, concurred. He added that the state budget outlook could be altered because of uncertainty about the impact of federal budget cuts and what the state Supreme Court will decide about school funding.

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