Introduction: First Look at the 2011-2012 State Budget

Last week, July’s political rite arrived right on cue in Trenton: the end of the hangover from the prior state budget and the beginning of the debate over the next one.

Early predictions of future deficits came first, with the governor’s office playing them down and the opposition party running around like Chicken Little.

budget deficit test

Ultimately, such predictions remain in large part a guessing game. But one thing appears clear from the annual forecasts of the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services: the worst for the state budget appears to be over — at least for this recession.

The state’s revenue decline has bottomed out. As OLS shows, most of the past year’s mega-billion-dollar revenue problems that stemmed from “one-shot” boosts have already been covered.

And while OLS forecasts a larger deficit next year, Gov. Chris Christie said publicly last week what legislators admit behind closed doors: Spending increases, even when “required” by statutory formulas, are not always funded.