It’s becoming an annual rite of spring in New Jersey. General Assembly and State Budget Committees begin their hearings into the Governor’s budget projections and we hear there is a significant shortfall in revenue collections. This year is no different.

This morning, Dr. David Rosen, the budget and finance officer with the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS) delivered the news to the Assembly budget panel.

“Overall, OLS projects $302.4 million less revenue in FY 2013 than does the GBM (Governor’s Budget Message),” says Rosen. “For FY 2014 the difference between OLS and the GBM is $334.7 million.”

The math is simple. OLS projects $637.1 million less in revenue over the two fiscal years than does the GBM. That means Governor Chris Christie has 15 months to balance the two spending plans.

In real terms, the difference between OLS and the governor is roughly 1%.

Will New Jersey’s new internet gambling law help Christie meet his revenue estimates for next year?  Will the privatization of the State Lottery and the use of affordable housing money help balance this year’s budget?

The Administration hopes internet gaming will generate $180 million, but Rosen says he has been unable to identify an independent source that endorses that estimate. The affordable housing case is still in the courts and if Christie is going to get the $120 million from the lottery privatization for this year’s budget a deal has to be struck by July 1.