From the Star Ledger:
New Jersey faces a $10.5 billion budget deficit heading into next year — nearly the same size as the gap that opened up before this year’s spending plan passed, according to an analysis by a nonpartisan legislative office.
The internal report, obtained by The Star-Ledger, means next year’s budget challenges could be just as difficult as this year, when Gov. Chris Christie slashed funding for schools, municipalities and property tax rebates.
The Office of Legislative Services calculated a $10.5 billion shortfall by counting all mandatory increases in state funding and assuming all programs now in the budget would be included next year.
But David Rosen, OLS’ chief budget official, wrote the numbers “will no doubt shift” between now and when the next budget is crafted.
Christie closed the gap in the $29.4 billion budget that took effect July 1 largely by avoiding costs such as funding for schools and rebates, rather than making major policy changes. He put off a $3.1 billion pension payment; next year, that bill is expected to increase to $3.5 billion, the OLS report says.
The analysis said many of the big items that made up this year’s deficit would return for the next budget, noting that schools will be due $2.3 billion more, and the state will owe $2.1 billion in tax rebates.