Tags: christie | raids | energy | fund

Christie ‘Raiding’ Clean-Energy Fund for $279 M

Thursday, 24 May 2012 12:42 PM

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie plans to return to the state’s clean-energy fund for another $279 million to narrow a budget gap of as much as $1.3 billion, according to the state’s treasurer.

Christie plans to use $200 million for the fiscal year ending in June and $79 million for fiscal 2013, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff told the legislature’s budget committee yesterday. That will add to the $466 million he’s already taken from the fund that invests in renewable energy and efficiency programs.

Energy taxes fell by as much as $330 million this year as sustained power outages following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, along with lower natural-gas prices and a warmer winter, depressed sales-tax collections. This contributed to the drop-off in receipts, the treasurer said.

With the diversion, the state will face a $314 million shortfall in revenue this year, Sidamon-Eristoff said. New Jersey’s revenue will also be $362 million below Christie’s projections for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The 49-year-old Republican governor will face resistance from the Democrat-controlled state legislature, which must approve his plan to divert the clean-energy funds, said Assemblyman John McKeon.

“I’m going to make every effort to prevent the governor from taking this money,” McKeon, a Democrat, said today in an interview. “It’s up to us to stop him from raiding the clean- energy fund.” The funds are collected through a 3.8 percent surcharge on utility customers’ bills.

State-tax revenue may lag behind Christie’s targets by $668 million in fiscal 2012 and $635 million in the year that begins July 1, David Rosen of the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services told the Assembly Budget Committee yesterday.

Christie’s $32.1 billion spending plan for fiscal 2013 counts on a 7.3 percent revenue gain, the most since before the recession that began in December 2007.

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