Bryant Urges Caution In Spending New Revenues

TRENTON – Senator Wayne R. Bryant, Chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, said the projected billion-dollar jump in State revenues over two years “affirms the soundness of Democratic fiscal policies” over the last four years.

But the Senate’s foremost expert on fiscal matters cautioned his legislative colleagues against making “premature commitments” about the expected revenues before ironing out the massive shortfall problems still to be conquered before a final budget bill is adopted next month.

“These new revenues give us some light, but we’ve still got a long trek through a dark tunnel,” said Senator Bryant. “So, we have to be cautious.”

The Senate Democratic budget leader repeated his hope that additional revenues would eliminate the $7.3 million in proposed co-pays for Medicaid recipients when they need prescription drugs or make visits to doctors office.

“I am gratified that the New Jersey economy is robust and that the Democratic policies which have taken root will allow us to find critical tax relief for workng families,” Senator Bryant said. “But we also must remember to help those most in need.”

Senator Bryant also said he hoped to apply some of the newfound revenue to reducing the so-called “one-shot” revenue raisers in this year’s budget proposal.

“I definitely think the sale of assets should be reduced,” he said in reference to the proposed budget item to raise $500 million through the disposal of unspecified State assets such as unused property and unneeded facilities.

Senator Bryant also said he would like to reduce the proposed increase in the realty transfer fee for homes to be sold at prices of between $150,000 and $350,000, a budgetary item designed to garner an estimated $25 million in new revenue.

“Quite frankly, that would be another punch we could pull for the benefit of middle class property owners,” Senator Bryant said.

Senator Bryant said he didn’t want to pour cold water on good revenue news, but he urged his legislative colleagues to remain focused on the difficult task ahead over the next seven weeks to produce a balanced budget document for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

“The new revenues will help, but we’ve still got a long way to go,” Senator Bryant said.