New Jersey has for years patched its budget holes with one-time fixes, mending deficits with temporary tax increases or the use of surplus funds.
Now, Gov. Chris Christie says he is weaning the state off such volatile resources, known as one-shots.
But a Democratic lawmaker tells a different story.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli, who represents parts of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties and serves as deputy speaker, discussed the proposed fiscal year 2013 budget during a March 28 NJTV appearance. He said that "the use of one-shot monies, which means monies found that are only going to be available one time, are exceeding $600 million dollars in this budget and last year they were $96 million.
"And that's a very dramatic change. So that tells you that the structural work that we're trying to do to keep the budget in balance is still struggling. And when you take advantage of income that is only coming one time the next year you have to find a way to replace that or you have to take other drastic steps," Burzichelli said, adding "that the use of that, what is called one-shots, is a 500 percent increase over the last Corzine budget."
New Jersey Treasury Department documents show the state used $3.82 billion in one-shots in fiscal year 2010, the last budget former Gov. Jon Corzine signed. Christie’s 2013 budget proposal includes $1.64 billion in such revenues.
That’s a decrease, not a 500 percent increase, as Burzichelli claims. So what gives?
Let’s say a family spent less on groceries this year than last year, but spent more on cereal over the same time frame. Overall, the family spent less, even though they spent more on a particular type of food.
That’s essentially how Burzichelli makes his claim. In total, Christie is using fewer one-shots than Corzine. But Christie’s reliance on a specific type of one-shots has increased.
Christie is proposing to use $642.3 million in a type of one-shots called revenue-related initiatives, which includes transfers from funds dedicated for specific purposes, such as clean energy. That’s an increase of more than 490 percent from the $108.8 million used in fiscal 2010. In the current budget, Christie relied on $96.4 million in similar revenues.
Burzichelli cites some of those figures in the television interview, but he doesn’t explain what they represent.
A spokesman for the Assembly Democrats, Tom Hester, said Burzichelli was referring specifically to revenue-related initiatives. "It’s that simple. You can read it any way you want, but doing [so] ignores the irresponsible impact of these budget raids," he said.
But by focusing only on some one-shots, Burzichelli ignores a larger context.
In total, Corzine’s last spending plan relied on $3.82 billion in one-time revenue resources. In Christie’s proposal, one-time revenue totals $1.64 billion.
Federal stimulus aid inflated the total use of one-time revenues in 2010. But John Sugden, a credit analyst with Standard & Poor’s who wrote a report in February critical of Christie’s proposed budget, said the federal aid is still a source of revenue that will have to be replaced the following fiscal year.
Sugden said in an e-mail that "the use of non-recurring revenues (one-shots) to fund recurring expenditures, in our view, creates budgetary gaps or shortfalls in the following year regardless of what their source is."
Burzichelli said the reliance on one-time revenues in the governor’s proposed budget is a "500 percent increase over the last Corzine budget."
That’s roughly correct for a particular type of one-shots that includes money diverted from dedicated funds.
But the assemblyman doesn’t make that clear and the state relies on hundreds of millions of dollars in other one-time revenue-generating measures. And, in total, Christie is using less one-time revenue than Corzine.
Burzichelli’s claim has a hint of truth but cherry-picks statistics and ignores critical context. We rate it Mostly False.
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