Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

2 Budget Bills Pass in Assembly

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

2 Budget Bills Pass in Assembly

Article excerpt

The state Assembly approved two bills that supporters said would bring greater transparency to the state budget process by changing the way revenue is estimated and requiring more disclosure about new funding sources.

One bill aims to overhaul the way the state makes its revenue projections and creates additional reporting requirements to track funding sources throughout the year.

Democrats drafted the legislation after revenue projections made by the Christie administration have fallen short in recent years. Christie had relied on his loftier projections to call for an income tax cut. And Christie has cited revenue shortfalls when cutting pension contributions that he had pledged to make.

"This legislation is about making sure our state restores its fiscal standing so that we can attract businesses and put New Jersey residents back to work," Assemblyman Tim Eustace, D-Maywood, said in a statement. "A better financial status starts with a better budget process and making sure that the public can keep elected officials accountable in that regard is an important means of improvement."

The measure would create a three-member advisory board - made up of the state treasurer, legislative budget and finance officer and a public member with knowledge of state tax policy and revenue analysis -- to assist with revenue forecasting during the state budget process. New Jersey's constitution gives the governor the authority to certify revenues for the state budget.

The board would adopt an advisory consensus forecast at a public meeting in the first two weeks of January each year and would revise its forecast for the current and coming fiscal years at a public meeting held on or before May 15 in anticipation of the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Several other states use the consensus forecasting process.

"Establishing an advisory board that receives public testimony will help introduce fresh perspectives on the economic conditions in our state as we work to develop solutions," said Assemblyman Joseph Lagana, D-Paramus. …

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