Solving New Jersey’s Budget Problem

Yesterday’s Senate Budget Committee hearing brought an inconvenient truth to the forefront. It is apparent that New Jersey is lagging in the national economic recovery. Dr. David Rosen of the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services warned that the revenues that will be received this fiscal year (’13) will not meet projections – not the wildly optimistic projections of the Governor, and not even the more pessimistic projections of the OLS just a few short months ago.

A lot of numbers were thrown out yesterday, but it seems to me that the most likely shortfall will be in the neighborhood of $700 million. Interestingly, that’s roughly the amount of revenue that the state would garner if we were to re-instate the millionaire’s tax.

Even with the optimistic revenue projections, the impact of the constitutionally-required balanced budget falls squarely on the poor and middle class. Women’s health, legal aid for the poor, and the environment are just a few areas that are already suffering from budget cuts.

Now is the time for the wealthy to carry their part of Governor Christie’s “shared sacrifice” – something that they have been relatively immune from so far. Let’s reinstate the millionaire’s tax for one year. That will close the state’s budget gap without punishing those who have carried the burden so far. A temporary extension quashes the “sky is falling” argument that millionaires will immediately uproot and leave the state. And it will give New Jersey time to catch up with the recovering national economy.

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