Diverting $1 billion in lottery revenue is a fix, not a solution, some experts warn, and it raises a question: How would the state budget make up for funds that are redirected?
Gov. Chris Christie piqued the interest of state lawmakers when he first suggested during his annual budget address several week ago that proceeds from the profitable New Jersey Lottery could be used to help prop up the state’s grossly underfunded public-employee pension system.
But the governor didn’t fully explain how his proposal — which would likely require the passage of new legislation — would work. Also left unclear is how the state would make up for the nearly $1 billion in lottery revenue that’s been flowing into the annual budget each year after jackpots are paid out.
This week, lawmakers should get a much better sense of just how serious Christie, a second-term Republican in last full year in office, is about the lottery proposal. State Treasurer Ford Scudder is set to appear before both the Assembly and Senate budget committees to discuss the governor’s fiscal year 2018 spending plan with them for the first time. Scudder’s appearance before the Assembly Budget Committee is scheduled for Wednesday; he’s set to go before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Thursday.