Now that the dust has settled from the state budget, it is time to look at next year. In the letter accompanying his proposed fiscal 2019 budget, Gov. Phil Murphy assured the public "we are beginning our climb out of a deep hole."
There is no question New Jersey's finances have been perennially bleak, weighed down by oppressive public employee benefits costs and no less than 11 downgrades on its general obligation bonds from 2010 through 2017.
But an examination of the budgetary numbers for the following year seem more indicative of business as usual in Trenton than the fiscal reawakening trumpeted by the new governor.
They show, based on current and projected revenue and expenditure data, that the state is already staring at a potential deficit of at least $600 million in 2020 -- with the prospect of even higher taxes and spending cuts needed to close a widening gap.
For 2020, the real cause for concern is the anticipated growth in state expenditures from a bevy of programs and commitments by Murphy.
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