For the past several years revenue projections presented by Gov. Chris Christie and by the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services have missed the mark which has led to finger pointing by Christie and many members of the Legislature. Now, a measure being pushed by Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) could bring an end to revenue disputes.

Pen and paper
Klimenko Aleksandr, ThinkStock

"My bill would create a panel of three people composed of the (State) treasurer, a representative of the Legislature and a third party that everyone can agree to between those two," Schaer said. "It would cause those three individuals to come up with what they believe is a fair and accurate forecast of revenue."

The joint legislative and executive branch New Jersey Revenue Advisory Board would provide consensus revenue forecasting advice for state budget purposes.

"Let's remember please that in the past few years the revenue projections have, in almost every single case, proved to be so monstrously wrong and that upsets the budget process because we rely upon those proposed budget numbers in terms of coming up with what the budget will be. If time and time again those numbers are out of whack, make no sense, it compromises what it is that all of us are trying to do," Schaer explained.

Under the bill, the advisory board would have to hold at least one public hearing during the second quarter of each state fiscal year to take public testimony and invite people who can give guidance on the current conditions and probable outlook for the performance of the state's economy.

"I think we can't do much worse than we're doing already," Schaer responded when asked if a consensus revenue forecast would be more accurate.

The governor would still certify state revenue and deliver a yearly State Budget Address.

The legislation was approved by the Assembly Budget Committee on Dec. 11.

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