By Cleve Bryan
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey has 60 days to find an $800 million solution as an income tax shortfall leads to questions about cutting spending.
Tuesday, Governor Christie said that making a $1.5 billion payment to the state pension fund by the end of June remains a priority but not untouchable.
“I’m going to use every tool at my disposal to get a balanced budget. No, there’s nothing off the table.”
Top democrats say the pension payment should not be up for debate.
Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald says, “The reality is, people skipped these payments in the past and this governor was critical of that because it is a big payment but that payment must be made.”
Officials say not making the pension fund payment could hurt the state’s ability to borrow money – making it tougher to do projects as simple as re-paving roads riddled with potholes.
Financial experts worry that New Jersey has had to play catch up in each of the last three years and according to a Moody’s Investors Service, “The state’s continued reliance on one-time fixes underscores its financial weakness.”
A positive way to view the situation is that the current budget problem may force bi-partisan efforts to make sound financial decisions. But you can expect some sharp criticisms along the way.
Deputy Assembly Speaker Gary Shaer says, “The only thing that we’ve successfully been doing in the past few years frankly is kicking the ball down the road and every year that ball gets heavier and we’ve just discovered with this recent information that we can no longer kick that ball down the road because it’s too big and too heavy.”