From the Record:
Governor Corzine wants state workers to take unpaid furloughs as part of a new plan to offset a recession-fueled budget deficit now projected to grow to nearly $3 billion.
The governor on Tuesday put forward another revised budget, his second since January, that shows his plan to deal with a combination of declining tax collections and an increasing demand for services such as unemployment benefits.
These latest fiscal steps — designed to meet the state’s balanced budget requirement — include using $850 million in just-approved federal stimulus money, redirecting $157 million from some state trust funds and taking $179 million more from already raided state surplus funds.
An additional $100 million would be raised by offering an amnesty program to those who owe the state tax revenue.
The state would also save $35 million by forcing state workers to take two unpaid furlough days before the end of the current fiscal year, in June.
Corzine said at an afternoon news conference in Trenton that the furloughs are necessary and legal.
“We are adjusting almost everything else in the budget,” he said. “We think we need to have some fair sharing of this [from the employees].”
Total state tax collections are now $1.3 billion behind original revenue estimates for the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2008, said state Treasurer David Rousseau.
In January, Corzine proposed $812 million in spending reductions when the revenue shortfall was projected to be $1.7 billion.
At that time he also proposed using more than $475 million in surplus funds to plug the budget hole.
Now the shortfall is expected to grow to $2.8 billion by the end of June, with some revenue sources, including corporate and income taxes, off by more than 10 percent, Rousseau said.
“Our revenue collections reflect the pervasive impact from the global economic crisis,” he said.
So far the total impact of the troubled economy on the New Jersey budget — in increased aid to help stem its impact and in falling tax revenues — is $3.6 billion.
Some of the new moves proposed by Corzine, such as redirecting money from state trust funds, will have to be cleared by the state Legislature. Lawmakers, however, have yet to approve the $812 million in spending adjust-ments the governor put forward last month.
“One thing is certain: The next few months will not be easy,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex.