Gov. Murphy’s Budget. Part VI: What he told us

Bumped from last night, because it was torpedoed by breaking CD7 news. The sum-up from Bill’s 6-part series. – Rosi


March roared in like a polar bear, but Governor Murphy added some heat on Tuesday to the political arena. Some of this was because he did not endorse Sen. President Sweeney’s alternate plan to raise new revenue by taxing corporations. Instead Murphy stuck with his original plan to raise monies through a millionaire’s tax. This was one of the few opportunities where Sweeney did not clap his hands. There may be blood on the floor before this issue is resolved.

Murphy began his speech saying, “Eight weeks ago today, I pledged to be a different type of governor. I pledged to create a stronger and fairer New Jersey that measured success not by what we could do for the few, but by what we could accomplish for all nine million of our residents. I invited you to join me in this journey. As promised, this is a budget that is balanced both fiscally and morally. This budget totals $37.4 billion. It makes the critical investments we need for our future.”

REVENUE 

  • Millonaire’s tax: asking those with taxable incomes in excess of $1 million to pay a little more. This will raise approximately $765 million.
  • Carried-interest: we will work to close this unfair loophole that benefits only billionaire hedge fund managers. It. will generate $100 million.
  • Sales tax: Increasing the tax back to 7%. The impact of the three-eighths of one percent sales tax decrease has been nearly imperceptible to the average family,

EXPENSE 

  • Community colleges: We will increase investment by $50 million to help 15,000 students from low-income families attend for free, beginning in the spring 2019.
  • Pre-K statewide: We will add an additional $57.6 million or a total investment of nearly $83 million.
  • NJ Transit: nearly triple funding, an additional $242 million investment, but fixing it will not happen overnight.
  • Corporate tax credits: I have directed the State Comptroller to undertake a comprehensive audit, but I am excited about the prospect of Amazon coming to Newark.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit: increasing, over three years, from 35 percent to 40 percent.
  • State property tax deduction: raising it from its current limit of $10,000 to $15,000.
  • Public Employee pensions: I do not have a magic wand capable of making everything whole again in one budget. But, I am committed to continuing to ramp up our payments until we get there – in this budget, a total of $3.2 billion – an all-time high. We will find savings within the pension system by divesting of hedge funds and reinvesting the money that would have been lost in exorbitant fees. We will find long-term health care savings that can be reinvested into pensions.
  •  Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: We will create this for middle-class and working families.
  • Gun violence Research Center: $2 million to a NJ university.
  • Opioid epidemic: we will substantially invest in both preventative and treatment programs.

SURPLUS (rainy day fund)

$743 million, an increase over the current year.

OTHER ISSUES

  • Marijuana legalization: I advocate for legalizing adult-use marijuana. NJ spends upwards of $140 million per year adjudicating low-level marijuana possession offenses. And marijuana-related arrest rates are tilted three-to-one against African-Americans, even though rates of marijuana use are similar among races. Decriminalization alone [is not the solution.]
  • Minimum wage: increase to $15 an hour, including an increase to $11 an hour in this budget.
  • Shared Services: We can, and must, encourage more municipalities to pursue this. I will soon be appointing a Shared Services “Czar.”

CLOSING REMARKS

“We cannot be a state that, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, ‘knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.’ We will stand up for the values which have long-defined us. For everyone who cares about commonsense gun safety laws, a 100-percent clean energy future, women’s health care, the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, or immigration policies that allow diverse and safe cities to flourish, the pull of New Jersey will become inescapable. Good jobs. Great schools. Safer communities. A cleaner environment. Reliable mass transit. Fairer taxes. More justice. Less division.”

Murphy displayed leadership and boldness. Hopefully he will take his case to constituents via his own form of a Town Hall in order to increase public support. The presentation did not cover cuts in programs or the level of detail that will soon be available in his Budget Book. As the Legislature will review his plan and seek modifications, Murphy must remain steadfast in his firmest beliefs, but flexible enough to compromise when necessary.

 To access Part I through V of this series: in the search field above enter the tag:  Gov. Murphy’s Budget. Part

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *