TRENTON — New Jersey Treasury Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff offered a less rosy revenue forecast this afternoon than the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services had earlier in the day.
He told the Assembly Budget Committee that new revenue estimates by the Treasury Department for the last six weeks of fiscal 2011 and all of fiscal 2012 were $511 million more than anticipated when Gov. Christie introduced his $29.4 billion budget in February.
That was $402 million less than the estimate presented earlier in the day by an OLS budget officer.
"We are a long way from being out of the woods with respect to our fiscal condition," the treasurer cautioned, adding that the new estimates were "not license to start spending again."
Sidamon-Eristoff said the Christie administration wants to use the extra money to raise a pension contribution planned for the current year by 50 percent.
He also said that the added revenue would allow for higher property tax rebates.
In February, Christie said he would double property tax rebates for senior, disabled and middle-income homeowners but only if the Legislature adopted changes to save money on public health care that would include having public employees pay 30 percent of their health benefit costs.
Sidamon-Eristoff said today that the administration now would double rebates whether or not the Legislature adopted those changes but would increase tax relief even further if lawmakers passed Christie's health benefits proposals.
If the proposals are passed, he said, the average property tax rebate for senior and disabled homeowners would rise from $540 to $810. Average property tax rebates for non-senior and disabled homeowners making up to $75,000 a year would rise from $440 to $660.
But the administration's plans could mean little if the state Supreme Court orders New Jersey to spend $1.6 billion more on education in a decision expected soon.