Gov. Chris Christie basked in the glow of strong December economic numbers Thursday, telling reporters not to count the state out when it comes to the current revenue shortfall.
Today the Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced the state added 30,200 jobs last month
, on the strength of 30,900 new private sector jobs. The state's public sector workforce shrank by 700 jobs.
"I have to say there's no other way to define that than success," Christie said, responding to criticism from Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-West Deptford), who in a press release
today claimed New Jersey's unemployed "are no better off under this governor."
The positive job numbers came two days after the state announced that revenues ran 1.1 percent ahead of plan in December
, the first time this year that revenues beat expectations. For the year, however, the state remains 4.1 percent behind budget.
Christie, who's slated to present his Fiscal Year 2014 budget next month, said he's not ready to make cuts to save the current year's budget. There's still time for revenue to pick up, he said.
"A couple of months ago, I asked my staff to begin to look at ways that we might curtail spending if necessary," Christie said. "I have not reviewed or approved any specific proposal yet, because I don't think we're there yet."
Christie then recounted the fiscal situation he encountered when he took over for Gov. Jon S. Corzine three years ago. Christie took office in January 2010, with less than six months to fix FY 2010 budget gap, while also taking steps to stave off a projected shortfall in the FY 2011 budget.
"Listen, I walked in here to a $2.2 billion problem in January 2010 and solved it," he said. "Then I dealt with an $11 billion projected problem a month later and solved it, without raising taxes on the people of the state and without making cuts that crippled our ability to be able to serve the public in New Jersey."
For the record, PolitiFact New Jersey has given Christie's claim of cutting $13 billion during his first two years a "false" rating
. Also notable, the FY 2011 budget also was balanced in part thanks to Christie's decision to defer a $3.1 billion pension payment.
At any rate, if the current FY 13 revenue gap of $426 million persists, Christie said he's prepared to deal with it.
"If we have a few-hundred-million-dollar problem, if that's where it ends up, I have no concerns about our ability in this administration to be able deal with the problem, deal with it effectively and responsibly, and move on," Christie said.
That's not to say he's expecting a shortfall. He quickly added: "But I'd also caution you to not count us out of the game yet."