- State Treasurer Reports a $1.1 Billion Budget Deficit
- Governor Christie Poll Ratings Decline
- Legislation to Raise State Minimum Wage Advances
- Stay "In the Loop" with RCSG on Your Favorite Social Networking Sites
State Treasurer Reports a $1.1 Billion Budget Deficit
Acting State Treasurer Ford Scudder reported last week that updated revenue projections for FY 2016 and FY2017 point to a $1.1 billion budget deficit.
The new revenue estimates stem largely from lower projected income tax collections, which significantly fund the State Budget. Revised projections for capital gains and a weaker stock market were listed as contributing factors.
The Administration will close the current fiscal year shortfall by a combination of cuts to various programs including charity care, the clean energy fund and other spending reductions.
Legislators raised concerns about the budget’s impact on impending negotiations to replenish the State’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). Discussions regarding the TTF have centered on raising New Jersey’s gas tax, but offsetting that increase with cuts in other taxes, such as the State’s estate tax or providing a tax break on retirement income. The Governor and Legislature will need to identify solutions to provide those tax breaks in the face of the declining revenue picture.
Governor Christie Poll Ratings Decline
Three recent polling surveys have revealed lower approval ratings for Governor Christie.
A Farleigh Dickinson University PublicMind survey of registered voters on the Governor found that “A full two-thirds (66%) disapprove of his job performance, with only a quarter (26%) who say they approve.” FDU noted this was highest disapproval for Governor Christie they have ever recorded.
The FDU survey followed a Quinnipiac University poll from the previous week that found, “New Jersey voters disapprove 64 - 29 percent of the job Gov. Christopher Christie is doing,” and that it was “his lowest approval rating ever and the worst approval rating in six years for any governor in the nine states surveyed by Quinnipiac University.”
A Rutgers Eagleton Poll released in April found only 26 percent of registered voters with a favorable opinion of the Governor.
According to the surveys, Governor Christie's declining poll numbers may be due to his involvement presidential campaign politics, general voter fatigue after nearly six years in office and concerns regarding the direction of the state.
Legislation to Raise State Minimum Wage Advances
A bill sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to incrementally raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 per hour is advancing through the Legislature.
The legislation would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 on January 1, 2017. From January 1, 2018 until 2021, it would increase annually by at least $1.25 per hour plus any increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) . After 2021, the wage would increase by any upward change in the CPI. New Jersey’s minimum wage would match the federal rate if the latter is raised higher.
The full Assembly is expected to vote on its version of the bill today. A Senate vote is expected to take place in June. The Governor’s Office previously announced it would veto a $15 minimum wage bill. If that happens, it’s likely the Legislature will send the issue to the voters in the form of a ballot question, as that legislation does not require the Governor’s signature.
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