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NJ Senate To Vote On Budget Process Change

The Senate Budget Committee hears testimony on the proposed change.

New Jersey's Senate is set to vote tomorrow on a proposed constitutional amendment that would change a key part of the state's budget-making process.

The governor's power to certify state revenues would be turned over to a three-member panel.

Senate President Steve Sweeney needs three-fifths of the legislature to support the measure to get it on the November ballot.

"If I'm the governor, I would want this. Because you can't argue the numbers if you have a consensus between the legislative body, an independent individual, and the governor. Then you have a consensus built around real projections."

Governor Phil Murphy believes certification should be up to the governor.

"Which the way it's been for 71 years. That's part of the responsibility. It's a checks and balances reality that's worked really well."

William Glasgall says the nonprofit Volcker Alliance gave New Jersey a grade of D for budget forecasting because it doesn't use a consensus approach in projecting revenue. He told lawmakers the amendment would change how the state does business.

"Consensus revenue estimates may allow states to avoid producing budgets with parts predicated on a variety of different estimates. It's better to have a single number to focus on so you could really spend your time debating spending priorities, which is really what this is all about."

Gordon MacInnes with New Jersey Policy Perspective supports the proposed amendment, but he urged lawmakers to review and debate it carefully.

“If it’s important to have a thoughtful, reflective, careful, and contested conversation about what counts in the budget and how the money is being raised, let’s allow that same discipline to be applied to making a major change in the constitution.”