By MICHAEL SYMONS • GANNETT STATE BUREAU • February 17, 2009
TRENTON — New Jersey’s budget deficit has grown by an additional $1.5 billion in the last month to $3.6 billion this fiscal year, Gov. Jon S. Corzine announced today.
In response, state officials are planning two unpaid furlough days for state employees, one each in May and June, saving $35 million. State Treasurer David Rousseau said the furloughs can be done without the consent of public worker unions, which have already objected to a proposed salary freeze.
In all, Corzine announced there will be an additional $472 million in budget cuts, $550 million in additional funds from the federal stimulus bill and $335 million in extra funds from state surpluses and trust funds.
The state also plans a tax amnesty program, which will need legislative approval, that would bring the state an additional $100 million.
This year’s deficit now exceeds 10 percent of the original budget adopted last summer. It includes a $2.8 billion shortfall in revenue, a $600 million increase in spending — including a $270 million deposit into the depleted unemployment fund, to avoid an automatic tax hike on businesses — and $135 million extra to repay debt.
“That comes with difficult choices and real pain in a lot of places,” Corzine said.
Revenue in the current budget is forecast at $29.5 billion. Collections for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning in July, are now $28.5 billion, meaning another group of budget cuts can be expected in Corzine’s March 10 budget speech.