Although lawmakers failed last summer to push through a bill stripping the governor of his sole constitutional power to have the final say over the state’s revenue, a bill backed by the Senate President would at least afford lawmakers a greater say in the process.
Assembly Bill 442, which the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved Thursday, creates the three-member New Jersey Revenue Advisory Board, consisting of the state treasurer, the legislative budget and finance officer, and a third person who the other two would select.
The board would make its own prediction for how much money the state is expected to make in the coming year – once in January and again in May.
But ultimately, the governor has the sole power to sign off on how much money the state expects to make, and in some instances, the Legislative and Executive branch’s predictions have differed by hundreds of millions of dollars.
While the role of the board will be strictly advisory, the governor will still have to explain any differences between his estimates and those produced by the board.
“The administration’s made comments in the past that our numbers were bogus or voodoo, and then after the budget was passed, the numbers are true,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, told NJBIZ.
Senate Budget Chair Paul Sarlo, D-36th District, said that the bill would “hopefully help our budget process.”
“We spend a lot of time trying to decipher the revenues on both sides,” he said Thursday. “It’s a way to streamline the budget process.”
The measure was approved by the state Assembly in a 77-1 vote last December, and would just need the approval of the state Senate and then the signature of Gov. Phil Murphy.
Murphy’s office declined to comment – though they were strongly opposed to the efforts to strip his sole power to certify state revenues, which was seen as a political swipe by Sweeney against the governor.
The Senate President had been hoping to put the question before voters in the 2018 election of whether to take away those powers from the governor but failed to garner the supermajority approval in both houses.