NJ Treasurer: All Spending Cuts on Table [AUDIO]
There is an $807 million shortfall in the current year's budget and the Fiscal Year ends in less than two months. How does Gov. Chris Christie's administration plan to plug that gap?
On Wednesday, state treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff gave the Assembly Budget Committee a laundry list of tough options, and said all of them must be considered.
"The state will take any and all actions necessary to offset the reduction in anticipated revenues," Sidamon-Eristoff said. "I will acknowledge that with just seven weeks left in the current Fiscal Year and the bulk of state spending already behind us, we face incredibly difficult choices."
Democrats on the budget panel, including chairman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) and Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-Union), made it clear to Sidamon-Eristoff that they wanted to hear concrete solutions and not just possible options. The treasurer told the lawmakers that the Christie administration felt it was necessary to do due diligence before presenting firm proposals to the legislature.
While he did not divulge where spending cuts could occur, Sidamon-Eristoff said cuts are likely on the way, but the state could also impound previously allocated funds.
"The limited areas of significant spending that remain impact nearly every New Jerseyan," Sidamon-Eristoff said, "payments for Medicaid services including managed care, hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers, school aid, state colleges and universities and student assistance, health benefits for teachers and state employees, the state retirement system, and more."
The treasurer said he will provide actual spending cut proposals when he comes before the committee again on May 21. Schaer and Cryan were joined by other Democrats in arguing that leaves too little time for the legislature to consider the plans and draft legislation, or to devise counter-proposals.
Gov. Christie would like to work cooperatively with the legislature, according to Sidamon-Eristoff, but the treasurer told the committee Christie does have the power to do things unilaterally and the governor will not hesitate to do so if necessary.