This is the "straight talking" governor who isn't going to resort to games and gimmicks to balance the budget.
Working the NumbersChristie’s willingness to make a $506 million pension payment early stems partially from the fact that state tax revenues, particularly income tax receipts, are running $500 million ahead of projections through December. But it also seems to have political calculations.Normally, a $1.112 billion increase in revenue to $29.4 billion caused by an across-the-board surge in income, sales, corporate and miscellaneous taxes would be regarded as an unmitigated triumph -- a four-year high that signaled that state revenue was finally bouncing back in the direction of the $31 billion and $32 billion marks topped in the first two budgets of the Democratic Corzine administration.Even with a final reduction of $876 million in Obama stimulus money, next year's state budget would rise to $29.926 billion -- up from $29.692 billion for the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2011.That, however, would require Republican legislators – and Christie, if he decides to jump into the Republican presidential race – to run on a state budget that would be higher in Fiscal Year 2012 than it was in Fiscal Year 2011.By shifting the $506 million pension payment forward into Fiscal Year 2011 – even if, for example, the state makes the $506 million payment on June 30, 2011, rather than the following day on July 1 -- the size of the current year's budget would conveniently go up from $29.692 billion to $30.198 billion, while the size of next year’s budget would just as conveniently go down to $29.420 billion. (See the chart.)That fiscal sleight of hand enables Christie to assert during his budget speech and in his official budget documents that his budget represented "a 2.6 percent reduction in year-over-year spending." [emphasis mine]
And the notion that he will make a token payment to the pension - something he has to do anyway - only if public workers give up compensation that they were promised in good faith is laughable.