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15 Reasons Chris Christie's "Jersey Comeback" Is A Sham

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie fancies himself a straight talker, but his claim of a “Jersey Comeback” is a sham. Christie’s gross fiscal mismanagement has delayed property tax relief and forced deep cuts to critical investments the state needs to grow. Just today, nonpartisan budget experts are testifying that revenue will fall hundreds of millions short of Christie’s projections. That’s why New Jersey’s bond rating was already downgraded, and rating agencies have threatened to downgrade it again. Christie’s theatrics may make for a good YouTube clip, but New Jerseyans are truly suffering under his lack of leadership.
April 2013: Nonpartisan Office Of Legislative Services Report Expected NJ Revenues To Fall $637 Million Short Of Christie Projections. “State revenue collections are expected to fall $637 million short of Gov. Chris Christie’s projections over the next 15 months, according to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services. The threat of a shortfall comes as the state’s cash reserves in the $32.8 billion budget for the fiscal year are expected to be at 30-year lows, giving Christie little room for error if his projections are off. The OLS report, which was obtained by The Star-Ledger, will be presented Thursday by David Rosen, the chief budget officer to the Assembly Budget Committee, and the less-optimistic estimates are likely to reignite one of the more one-sided feuds in Trenton, between Christie and Rosen.” [Star-Ledger, 4/3/13]
·       Christie Previously Called OLS Official David Rosen “Dr. Kevorkian Of Numbers” For Saying His Revenue Projections Were $1.3 Billion Too High. “Last year, Rosen said Christie’s revenue projections were about $1.3 billion too high, causing the governor to call the budget officer the “Dr. (Jack) Kevorkian of the numbers” and wonder aloud why he still had a job.” [Star-Ledger, 4/3/13]
OLS: New Jersey On Pace For $301 Million Revenue Shortfall For Current Fiscal Year. “March tax collections only narrowly matched the softened revenue forecast that Christie issued along with the new budget in February. And the year-to-date data showed state tax collections are still well below the revised growth goals for the current budget that Christie set in February. Rosen, the budget analyst for the Office of Legislative Services, the non-partisan research arm of the Legislature, will tell lawmakers Thursday that the current budget is now on pace for a $301 million revenue shortfall, according to a copy of his report obtained by The Record.” [The Record,4/3/12]
S&P: Christie’s Budget Proposal ‘Structurally Imbalanced’ For Second Year Due To Untested Revenue Goals. “New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s budget proposal is ‘structurally imbalanced’ for a second year because it’s based on revenue goals that may not be met even after recent revisions, Standard & Poor’s said today. The $32.9 billion plan for fiscal 2014 relies on ‘new and untested revenues’ and a recovery from Hurricane Sandy whose timing and financial impact is uncertain, S&P said in a report. The company has had a negative outlook on New Jersey’s debt since September because of concerns about Christie’s forecasts.” [Bloomberg, 3/13/13]
·         S&P Could Lower NJ Rating If Revenues Fall Short Of Projections. “S&P maintained an AA- rating, the fourth-highest investment grade, on New Jersey’s general-obligation debt, along with the negative outlook. The rating could be lowered if revenue falls short of projections, [S&P analyst John] Sugden said.” [Bloomberg, 3/13/13]
March 2013: OLS Said $156 Million In Unanticipated Revenue Was “Largely Artificial,” Due To Delays In Tax Refund Payments. “The nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services — a persistent thorn in the governor’ side — said in its monthly report, also released today, that $156 million in unanticipated revenue in February is largely artificial and comes as the result of unusual delays in tax refund payments. The report said the February figures were inflated by $120 million, accounting for about 80 percent of the unanticipated revenue.” [Star-Ledger, 3/7/13]
·         Christie: “OLS Has Never Been Nonpartisan.” Christie reiterated his bitter criticism of David Rosen, the top budget officer at the Office of Legislative Services, even though Rosen’s estimates were closer to the mark than the administration’s initial figures. ‘If OLS was really nonpartisan, I’d have less of a problem with it,’ he said. ‘Everybody in this town knows, who’s going to be honest, that OLS has never been nonpartisan. When the Republicans were in charge of the Legislature, they danced to the tune of the Republicans. … And when the Democrats are in charge, the Democrats push OLS around, that’s just the way it is.’” [Star-Ledger, 3/7/13]
February 2013 Analysis: “Christie’s Fiscal Cliff — $3 Billion And Counting,” Gap Too Large To Cover “Even With Record Revenue Growth.” “With less than a month to go before his annual Budget Address, Christie is facing a structural deficit of at least $2.5 billion that could top $3.5 billion by the June 30 end of the current budget year. The gap is too large to cover even with record revenue growth, as NJ Spotlight shows.” [NJ Spotlight, 2/4/13]
January 2013: Christie’s Budget $705 Million Short Of Revenue Projections.“Halfway through the fiscal year, Governor Christie’s budget is $705 million short of revenue projections, with more than a dozen income sources trailing his growth estimates. The shortfall puts his proposed income tax cut in jeopardy. Also in potential trouble are millions in state spending now earmarked for property tax relief and for a payment to the public employee pension fund.” [The Record, 1/3/13]

  • Analyst: NJ Would Need “Spectacular Revenue Acceleration” To Balance Christie’s Budget. “New Jersey will need ‘spectacular revenue acceleration’ during the final six months of the fiscal year to keep Christie’s budget in balance, David Rosen, budget analyst for the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services, told lawmakers on Thursday. ‘Nothing in the national or state economic picture suggests that such growth is likely,’ he said.” [The Record, 1/3/13]
  • January 2013: Budget On Pace For $2 Billion Shortfall. “Governor Christie — whose current budget features tax cuts, not tax hikes — is still holding out hope that tax revenue from corporate bonuses and Wall Street gains will combine with the rebuilding effort from superstorm Sandy to create an economic burst. New Jersey’s budget — built on tax projections portrayed as highly optimistic as soon as Christie introduced them in early 2012 — is on pace for a $2 billion shortfall. But Christie is not talking about spending cuts — cuts that would be distasteful to any officeholder in a reelection year.” [The Record,1/14/13]

September 2012: OLS Reported That Christie’s Revenue Collections Would Have To Outpace Every State In The Union To Cover $254 Million Shortfall.“Gov. Chris Christie revenue collections in the current budget must now outpace even his own optimistic projections, according to the Legislature’s top budget officer. The additional growth is necessary to cover a $254 million revenue shortfall in the budget that ended in June, lowering the baseline revenue figures that are baked into the current budget, David Rosen, the budget officer for the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services, told the Assembly Budget Committee this morning. The fiscal year 2013 budget signed by Christie in June anticipated a 7.2 percent growth in revenue to cover $31.7 billion in spending, but now revenues must grow by 8.2 percent, Rosen said. In March, The Star-Ledger reported that 7.2 percent was the highest growth rate in the country.” [Star-Ledger, 9/19/12]
June 2012: Despite Revenue Outlook Lowering, Christie Proposed Highest Spending Increase of Any Governor. “Despite New Jersey’s weakening revenue outlook, Gov. Chris Christie is projecting higher spending increases than any governor in the country for the next fiscal year, according to a report released this week by the National Association of State Budget Officers.  The report, prepared in cooperation with the National Governors Association, underscores how out of step the state budget outlook appears, and fueled criticism yesterday from Democrats who insisted Christie’s narrative of a ‘Jersey Comeback’ was dangerously misleading.  New Jersey is one of 13 states with revenue collections in the current year that are lower than expected, while 31 other states are surpassing their targets, the report said. … Last month, the Christie administration said it expected to collect $287 million less this year than it had anticipated; the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services estimated the gap to be significantly higher.  In addition, New Jersey is leaving less margin for error than most states, the report showed. It is one of only five states projecting a rainy-day fund for fiscal year 2013 of less than 1 percent of its expenditures.  The survey of all 50 states also showed that New Jersey’s projected 7.2 percent increase in spending in the $32.2 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 is the highest in the nation, as is the governor’s 7.4 percent projected revenue growth.”  [Star-Ledger,6/12/12]
March 2012: OLS Projected $537 Million Less In Revenue Growth Than Christie’s Projections.  “Nonpartisan legislative budget analysts project New Jersey’s revenue growth will be less robust than Gov. Chris Christie forecasts in his state budget proposal. The $537 million difference over the next 16 months, which is driven by a difference in expectations for income tax payments, could be significant if the Office of Legislative Services proves accurate because the gap exceeds the state’s year-end budget surplus forecast for June 2013 of $300 million… Christie’s $32.15 billion budget plan anticipates state revenues will grow by 7.3 percent next year. The OLS is forecasting 6.5 percent growth.” [Asbury Park Press, 3/28/12]
·         Christie Dismissed OLS Estimates. “The research arm of the New Jersey Legislature estimates that the Christie administration will take in a half-billion dollars less than it has projected over the next 15 months….Christie dismissed the OLS forecast when asked about the estimate after an event Tuesday in Atlantic City. ‘There are two things OLS has proven in this area: One is being wrong, and two is following whatever the agenda is of the majority of the Legislature,’ Christie said. ‘Last year when the Legislature wanted to spend more, they said I said we didn’t have enough money. They turned out to be wrong about that. Now this year when I want to cut taxes, they say we don’t have enough money.’” [Associated Press, 3/28/12]
2012: Christie’s Budget Projection “Most Optimistic In Nation” – Despite Warnings From Economic Experts. “[W]hen it comes to his own state, no governor in America is more upbeat than Christie, despite warnings from several economic experts that his optimism is misplaced. A Star-Ledger review of the budgets of all 50 states shows that when Christie projected earlier this year that New Jersey’s revenue would swell by 7.4 percent over the next fiscal year, his forecast was the highest jump of any of the 50 states — and more than double the national average of 2.8 percent.” [Star-Ledger, 3/18/12]
·         Professor: Christie’s Plan “An Election-Year Budget.” “Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University, said Christie’s projections were ‘an election-year budget.  You’d be hard-pressed to find any economist to agree with those predictions,’ Harrison said.” [Star-Ledger, 3/18/12]
February 2012: NJBIZ Said Christie “May Be Drinking His Own Kool-Aid” On Revenue Projections.  NJBIZ editorialized in February 2012 that “[W]e’re concerned Christie may be drinking his own Kool-Aid here. It’s hard to expect New Jersey’s revenue collections will jump 7.5 percent in the coming fiscal year when collections are down 3 percentage points in the current year – it may be true that wages are rising and auto sales are expected to soar, but that still seems like a needlessly aggressive figure. And pegging so much of the growth on an Atlantic City comeback seems like the kind of stretch you should only attempt after a thorough workout. It’s called the Jersey Comeback, not the Jersey Miracle on Ice.” [NJBIZ Editorial, 2/27/12]
February 2012: S&P Cast Doubt On Christie’s Revenue Estimates for FY 13 Budget Proposal.  “Financial experts on Wall Street picked apart Gov. Chris Christie’s $32.1 billion budget yesterday, casting doubt on the state’s robust revenue estimates and warning that New Jersey would have trouble weathering economic setbacks. Standard & Poor’s somber assessment — coming days after Christie unveiled his fiscal plan and then set out on a tour of talk shows and a town hall meeting — was in sharp contrast to the governor’s rosy view that the state’s ‘fiscal house is now in order.’ S&P, the first major credit rating agency to analyze Christie’s proposal, found multiple flaws: The budget relies on more one-shot revenue sources than last year; the $300 million surplus is too small; the hole in the pension fund is still too big; tax cuts are expected to drain $530 million; and revenue-growth estimates of more than 7 percent defy the conventional wisdom among economic analysts, especially because the state is under target for the first half of the current fiscal year.” [Star-Ledger,2/25/12]
New Jersey Was One Of Two States Where The Annual Unemployment Rate Rose, Going From 9.4% To 9.5%. On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the 2012 annual average unemployment rates for all 50 states, and found New Jersey did not fare well, citing it as one of only two states where the annual unemployment rate rose from 9.4% to 9.5%, and has the 4th highest rate in the entire country.” [New Jersey Newsroom, 3/1/13]
New Jersey Had The Fourth Highest Unemployment In The Nation At 9.5% In January. The December 2012 state unemployment rate was 9.5%, seasonally adjusted. Only California, Nevada, and Rhode Island had higher unemployment rates. [, accessed 3/18/13]

  • The National Unemployment Rate In December Was 7.7%. [, accessed 3/18/13]


  • Los Angeles Times: “New Jersey’s Unemployment Rate Stood At 9.7% When Christie Took Office In January 2010.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/17/12]

New Jersey Had The Highest Unemployment Rate Among Its Neighbors. In January 2013, New Jersey’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.5%. New York’s was 8.4%, Pennsylvania’s rate was 8.2%, Delaware’s was 7.2%, and Connecticut’s was 8.1%. [, accessed 3/18/13]