Measure Would Provide More Accuracy, Transparency in Annual Budget Process
Legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton and Joann Downey sponsored to require a clear and concise analysis of new revenue sources proposed by the governor was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.
Under the bill (A-2225), if the governor recommends new or additional sources of revenue in his annual budget message that each raise $1 million or more in state funds, the revenue sources must be separately identified and the budget message must include a full and detailed fiscal analysis of these revenue sources.
“Essentially, this change is designed to avoid any delay in disclosure or a less than full and detailed analysis of new or additional revenue sources proposed by the governor,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “In order to produce a budget that’s both responsible and compassionate, we need to ensure that revenue proposals are not just smoke and mirrors and that the money is being allocated wisely.”
The sponsors cited the Fiscal Year 2014 budget process as an example of the need for the legislation. While the governor’s original budget documents detailed just eight tax and fee increases, his proposed budget for that fiscal year included 42 such increases. The 34 additional tax and fee increases only were disclosed by the administration in response to questions from the Office of Legislative Services. Of those 34, nine would have totaled more than $1 million and thus would be applicable under the bill.
“Developing a quality budget requires the state to have the most accurate fiscal analyses at all stages of the budget process, but recently, the process has been distorted by the drastic difference between how much the governor ultimately intended to raise taxes and fees and the amount he proposed during his budget address,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “New Jersey simply cannot play these sorts of games when it comes to the taxpayers’ money.”
Under the legislation, the analysis also must include an estimate of the funds anticipated to be available as a state resource or for appropriation during the fiscal year. This disclosure requirement shall also be included in any revisions the governor makes to the budget message.
The bill, which gained unanimous Assembly approval, now awaits Senate consideration.