Well, what do you know about that…
Apparently on the eve of the big FY 2010 budget vote in both houses, the Corzine administration discovers at least $400 million in unanticipated revenue. The reason is an apparently highly successful tax amnesty program which brought in $600 million and counting ( there are still many unopened envelopes that need to be counted and the plan was for it to bring in only $200 mil ).
20 minutes after the Assembly was set to begin voting, reporters get an email that the Governor is calling a press conference to announce the windfall. Corzine says they need to delay the budget to re-work the numbers, and that this money should be used for property tax relief. Corzine says he was forced to cut property tax rebates for 1.7 million people as a result of the tight fiscal situation the state is in.
So…this money will now be used for that, right? Well, the Governor and legislative leaders say it will. The details are going to be banged out over the weekend so we’ll see how much is used for homestaed rebates and how much winds up be dedicated to other “worthy causes” and “needs.”
Budget Committees are expected to take up the bills again on Monday, with full votes next Thursday.
But here is where this gets intriguing. Questions have been swirling this week about whether or not Senate President Dick Codey has the votes to pass this budget. with a 23 -17 majority, 21 votes are needed for passage. Republicans are united in their oposition, which allows very little wiggle room for Dems.
We already know that Democratic Senators Joe Vitale and Jeff van Drew plan to vote against it. Today NJN News learned that Senator Ron Rice who chairs the black caucus was also a no vote. That dips the Dems below the magic 21 number. We also hear that Nia Gill was against it.
So Republicans and others are saying that the real story here is Codey did not have the votes, something he denied to reporters today. Codey says in the end the 21 votes would have been there, and will be there next week.
But a cynic would say that the windfall info came out earlier than planned so Democrats could use it as an excuse to delay the vote since there were other ways of adding the tax windfull at a later date through a supplemental appropriation.
But of course that is all speculation…or is it?