Lou in the News

New Jersey economy came in 47th in nation for 2011

The Record
June 6, 2012
By John Reitmeyer and Kathleen Lynn

Governor Christie’s vision of a “New Jersey Comeback” — the huge economic rebound he says will make a 10 percent income tax cut affordable — was challenged Tuesday by a double dose of bad news.

The federal government released data indicating the state’s economy shrank by 0.5 percent in 2011, even as 43 states saw their economies grow last year, with the state ranked 47th in economic performance.

Also on Tuesday, a non-partisan state legislative budget analyst told New Jersey lawmakers in an email that a gap between earlier budget projections and actual tax collections may now be as wide as $1.4 billion through the end of June 2013, a development the governor’s office later downplayed.

Christie, a Republican and frequent surrogate for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, has been heavily promoting what he calls the “New Jersey Comeback” since last year at town-hall-style events and other appearances throughout New Jersey, as well as major speeches in California, New York and Washington, D.C.

After two years of cuts and frugal spending practices, the governor said the state’s finances and economy are now healthy enough to pursue the 10 percent, across-the-board income tax cut he rolled out in January.

Chris Christie claims Democrats “don't want to cut your taxes under any circumstances”

The Star Ledger and PolitiFact.com
May 23, 2012

Sometimes Gov. Chris Christie’s comments simply don’t jibe with reality.

Take, for instance, his claim at a transportation conference Wednesday that Democrats are opposed to any tax cuts this year.

As Christie continues pushing for an income tax cut, the Republican governor and Democratic legislators have been battling this week over differing state revenue projections.

The Christie administration is estimating a shortfall of $676 million through the end of the next fiscal year, while David Rosen, the budget and finance officer for the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services, has estimated a shortfall of $1.3 billion.

After blasting Rosen as the "Dr. Kevorkian of the numbers," Christie in a speech Wednesday claimed that Democratic legislators "don't want to cut your taxes under any circumstances."

"This year, when they don’t want to cut your taxes under any circumstances, they have their handmaiden walk over across the street in front of the Assembly Budget Committee today and say...’I was wrong. I was $1.6 billion wrong for this year, but trust me for next year. You’re another $660 billion short for next year.’ Why would anybody with a functioning brain believe this guy?"

Well, PolitiFact New Jersey has a question of its own: Why would anybody with a functioning brain believe Democrats don’t want tax cuts when they released their own tax cut proposals a few months ago?

Christie Plugs $676 Million Hole With Borrowing, One-Shots

Governor insists on income tax cut, but OLS says budget still $627 million short

Budget
May 24, 2012
By Mark J. Magyar

While Governor Christie’s treasurer laid out plans to fill what it says is a $676 million budget gap with borrowing, fund transfers, and other one-shot revenues, the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget expert warned that state tax collections could still come up another $627 million short -- if not more.

It’s much more than a disagreement over numbers, as Christie demonstrated yesterday by launching a vicious public attack on the integrity of David Rosen, the Office of Legislative Services budget officer, for daring to suggest that tax collections this year and next year will come in $1.3 billion lower than Christie projected in his February budget speech.

Indeed, the political stakes in this year’s budget battle could not be higher: Christie has based his political message on the idea that he can balance the budget without gimmicks -- and pass a 10 percent income tax cut to prove that the “Jersey Comeback” he has bragged about is real.

Christie and his GOP allies aren’t the only ones hoping for higher revenues. Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden) seized upon Christie’s optimistic budget forecasts to propose ambitious income tax cuts built on property tax credits for the middle class.

Indeed, Christie and Sweeney almost reached agreement on a compromise plan last week before dismal April tax collections and Democratic infighting scuttled the deal.

Cherry Hill job fair draws hundreds

Sun News
May 23, 2012
By Melissa Dipento

Just over 8 percent of Americans are unemployed – that’s the word from the U.S. Department of Labor as of April.

But New Jersey has a little work to do before catching up with the rest of the country. Even though unemployment has dropped in recent months, 9 percent of New Jersey residents are still without work.

But that hasn’t got everybody down.

Armed with a stack of resumes and a smile, Alyssa Yackle strolled around the Cherry Hill National Guard Armory last week hoping to make some professional connections at the Job and Resources Fair, hosted by the Sixth Legislative District’s representatives.

The Chews Landing native, who recently graduated from Rutgers-Camden with a master’s degree in public health, just returned from doing international fieldwork in Cuba.

She said she wasn’t discouraged by the hundreds of residents who were also vying for the same jobs at the event.

“A lot of people were taking resumes, which was encouraging,” Yackle said. “My aunt recommended the event to me, so I’m checking out all my possibilities.”

Abe Caceres said he came to the job fair in the hopes of finding a career he could transition into. He’s still employed, but said he was seeking a managerial business role.

As a veteran who served in the Armed Forces until 2006, Caceres said he is impressed with efforts to target veterans, specifically for employment.

New Jersey April Revenue Collections 5.3% Below Budget Goals

Bloomberg
May 15, 2012
By Stacie Servetah and Terrence Dopp

New Jersey's April revenue was 5.3 percent below Governor Chris Christie’s targets as income and business taxes fell short, leaving collections $230 million behind forecasts for the first 10 months of this fiscal year.
The state collected $3.26 billion last month, less than its projection of $3.44 billion. Income taxes were 2.8 percent less than forecast and corporate levies were 22.1 percent under budget, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said in a statement.

Christie, 49, a first-term Republican, had predicted that April revenue would rise from $3.32 billion a year earlier. He has touted the “Jersey Comeback,” saying that tax cuts are possible now that the state’s “fiscal house is in order.” His $32.1 billion spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 predicts a 7.3 percent increase in revenue, the most since before the recession that began in December 2007.

“It’s now becoming clear the governor has built his plan on a shaky foundation,” Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, a Camden Democrat, said in a statement. Christie declined to comment after a hospital groundbreaking in Camden.

Christie is counting on a revenue gain to fund a 10 percent across-the-board income-tax cut. He has prodded Democrats, who control the Legislature, to pass his plan. Lawmakers have made counterproposals that would give middle-class residents property-tax credits on income-tax returns.

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