Governor Chris Christie, a Republican who has spent the past four months promising New Jersey income- tax cuts, now confronts the challenge of selling his plan’s feasibility against a backdrop of continuing revenue shortfalls.
April receipts fell 5.3 percent short of budget forecasts, after March collections missed by 2.5 percent, according to statements from Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff. So far for the fiscal year that ends in June, the state has brought in $230.3 million, or 1.2 percent, less than projected.
Christie, 49, didn’t remark on the latest figures during two public appearances in Atlantic City and Camden yesterday, when the April data was released. He will continue barnstorming the state with a public forum planned for today in East Hanover. He has regularly pitched the three-year, 10 percent tax cut at such meetings as a key to what he calls the “Jersey Comeback.”
“To back off now would smell of political weakness,” Brigid Harrison, who teaches law and politics at Montclair State University, said yesterday by telephone.
Christie’s $32.1 billion spending plan for fiscal 2013 counts on a 7.3 percent revenue gain, the most since before the recession that began in December 2007. Should revenue miss budgeted amounts for the current year, the state would start the next with less cash than estimated.
New Jersey collected $3.26 billion last month, less than the $3.44 billion forecast. Income taxes trailed estimates by 2.8 percent and corporate levies fell 22 percent under budget, Sidamon-Eristoff said in a statement.
“This is one month’s worth of collections,” said Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie. “We still have two months.”
So far in fiscal 2012, revenue is $500 million, or 2.7 percent, greater than for the first 10 months of the previous year, reflecting economic growth, Roberts said yesterday.
“With revenue projections coming in much lower and the governor’s revenue estimates being ridiculously unreachable,
it would be irresponsible at this time to support any type of tax cut,” Senator Raymond Lesniak, an Elizabeth Democrat, said by telephone yesterday, before the April numbers were released. “I know that other members I’ve spoken to agree.”
Gordon MacInnes, president of New Jersey Public Policy Perspective, a Trenton nonprofit research group that focuses on social and political issues, said this is no time to cut taxes.
“New Jersey already has the third-lowest credit rating in the country, greatly increasing our borrowing costs,” MacInnes, a former Democratic state senator and assemblyman from Morristown, said in a statement. “Our leaders should concentrate first on putting the state’s fiscal house in order, not on politically appealing, but reckless, proposals to cut taxes. This is exactly how we got into this mess.”