Christie Finds Savings From Costs That Were Overestimated

TRENTON (AP) -

Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, facing a roughly $600 million gap as the current budget year ends and scouring the nearly $34 billion spending plan for spare cash, is finding savings from overestimated costs.

Christie identified nearly $282 million in savings from more than a dozen areas, with the largest savings of $95 million coming from a program known as FamilyCare, which assists elderly residents in getting nursing home care under Medicaid. The administration says it overestimated enrollment in the program.

Left-leaning groups say says there are poor and immigrant residents who could qualify for the program but aren’t aware it exists. The administration, though, said there is “an abundance of awareness and outreach already in place.”

The belt-tightening comes as the 2016 budget year wraps up July 1 and as Christie and the Democrat-led Legislature wrangle over the 2017 budget. It also follows disappointing revenue returns, which spurred the administration to look for cuts.

“Looking through the couch cushions is something we applaud,” said Democratic Budget Committee chairman Gary Schaer. “It should be happening.”