NJ’s Rainy Day Fund Is Almost Gone [AUDIO]
In less than three weeks, Governor Chris Christie will deliver his Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 State Budget Address in a special joint session of the legislature. The chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee says Christie and lawmakers should be looking into the FY 2012 and FY 3013 spending plans now because the surplus is getting too low for comfort and another disaster, natural or otherwise could cripple us.
"We have a budget problem," explains Assemblyman Vinnie Prieto. "We ended Fiscal Year 2012 $123 million in the red and through the first six months of this year we're $426 million short so it's a total of $549 million. Our surplus was only $648 million so we've got $99 million left of surplus for six months in a $32 billion budget."
Prieto says the state still has to allocate aid to towns and schools and make a pension payment so the time to start figuring out ways to keep the budget in balance while maintaining a healthy surplus is now.
"Less than 1% is really no surplus and we're at that right now," says Prieto. He says another disaster or emergency would pose a serious problem with such a low rainy day fund. He explains, "Right now it's basically gone and we'll be working without a safety net."
Raising revenues or cutting spending are really the only two options says Prieto. Christie is steadfast in his refusal to hike any taxes so cuts are more likely. The Assemblyman says, "Hopefully, if we do have to make cuts it will be in areas that will not hurt residents of the State of New Jersey."
"We're still spending less than in the current Fiscal Year budget than we spent in New Jersey in the 08-09 budgets under (former Governor) Jon Corzine," said Christie last month during an exclusive interview with Townsquare Media. "We're still being very vigilant about spending. We're going to continue to be vigilant about spending and if we have to cut back some we will. I think we've shown we can do that and the State survives and the sun comes up the next morning and it will this time."