Christie and Democratic lawmakers have similar budget estimates
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- The Democratic-controlled Legislature's budget office and the Christie administration's 2016 forecasts have only minor differences, the first time in more than 20 years they have been so small.
Office of Legislative Services' budget officer David Rosen said during an Assembly Budget Committee hearing Monday that Gov. Chris Christie's projections are "reasonable."
Christie's 2016 budget puts revenues at $34.2 billion; Rosen's revised 2015 estimate combined with his 2016 forecast differs from Christie's by only $16.1 million, a difference of 0.02 percent.
Rosen said the difference has not been so slight since March 1994.
"Without the distraction of whose numbers to believe, we have the opportunity to look at important budget trends and issues," Rosen said.
Last year, Christie's projections fell about $1 billion short of expectations while legislative estimates proved closer to receipts. The shortfall resulted in the governor cutting payments to the state's public pension fund, angering Democrats and spurring unions to file a lawsuit.
Though there is overlap this year, there are still differences -- the biggest in gross income tax, which Rosen estimates will be $73 million higher than the administration. It's the state's largest revenue source and has trended lower since 2009.
Rosen also touched on the state's inheritance and estate taxes, saying he and staff obtained data from the administration for the first time that show less than about 11 percent of the deaths in New Jersey resulted in a liability for either or both of those levies.
The state Senate will hold similar hearings tomorrow.