His critics say Governor Chris Christie’s projection of 7.2% growth in the economy this year is far too optimistic. You can guess what they’re saying today after hearing from the lead budget analyst for the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services in his testimony before the Assembly Budget Committee. Although he lowered the gap to $240 million, Dr. David Rosen stands by the report he issued last week that said there was a roughly quarter-billion-dollar shortfall for the fiscal year that ended June 30th. He says that means the state will have to see 8.2% growth in the economy to keep the budget balanced.

“Dr. Rosen’s warning that 8.2 percent growth is now needed to meet this fiscal year’s projections is particularly concerning, especially considering how the previous growth requirement was already considered overly optimistic,” says Democratic Assembly Budget Committee chairman Vinnie Prieto. “Sadly, we only got part of the story today. Treasurer (Andrew) Sidamon-Eristoff’s failure to appear to discuss a $254 million revenue shortfall and what it means for the middle-class and poor is blatantly disrespectful to the taxpayers who pay his salary. Governor Christie shares that blame, since the treasurer is a representative of the governor. Their decision to ignore the people’s representatives today was wrong.”

Eristoff declined to testify. Republican members of the budget panel say the hearing was more about political theater than sound budgeting.

Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon says, “These are volatile and unpredictable times, but to call today’s hearing anything more than political opportunism by the Democrats would be disingenuous. OLS offered information that was already public information. This was an example of ‘show over substance.’”