Despite assurances that New Jersey officials will close a projected $2 billion budget gap for fiscal 1996, rating agency officials say they are closely monitoring the state's credit outlook.

To be sure, no agency executive has even hinted at a possible downgrade of New Jersey, one of the country's highest-rated states. But Gov. Christine Todd Whitman's plans for cutting taxes further and the possibility of a downturn in the state's economy have some rating executives concerned about the fiscal 1996 budget, which begins July 1, 1995,

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