As the Legislature prepares to dissect Governor Corzine?s proposed budget, one of the first issues that needs to be resolved is what is the state?s total spending. Today, Assemblymen Vincent Polistina and John Amodeo, both R-Atlantic, said that the administration is omitting other funding sources that should be used when reporting budget numbers. Figures provided by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS) indicate that ?off-budget state dollars? and ?off-budget federal dollars? are two other sources of revenue used in the state?s spending.
?The administration should be totally upfront with taxpayers on what the revenue stream is for the state,? stated Polistina. ?When adding the funding from the two ?off-budget? items is included, the total proposed budget is actually $45.5 billion. These are not new revenue streams and historically have been included in the budget.
?To omit those figures is not telling the whole story. But even worse than that is the fact that the governor?s new budget is actually two and one-half percent higher than the current year?s level of $44.3 billion. In order to have an honest discussion on budget matters, we need to use real revenue numbers, not those that have been consistently underreported. Real math is needed to evaluate this proposal, not the same kind which led to the demise on Wall Street.?
OLS figures show that the first year total budget in the Corzine administration (Fiscal Year ?06) was nearly $39.5 billion, which includes the ?off-budget? funding. Compared to the total revenue for the upcoming fiscal year, that represents a 15% increase.
?The proposed tax increases on the middle class necessitates a full disclosure of all sources of funding,? stated Amodeo. ?We are asking working families to make huge sacrifices when the projected revenue stream this year is higher than last. It is disingenuous not to include the two other funding sources when we deliberate the budget. We should not be playing a shell game when so much is at stake.?