By SHERRI RUGGIERI
On March 13, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy addressed a joint session of the New Jersey legislature to announce his first state budget for fiscal year 2019. He must balance his campaign promises with fiscal responsibility. Governor Murphy’s spending plan:
- Fully funding public schools under the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA), expanded Pre-K, and planned college affordability initiative,
- Tripling the amount of funding for New Jersey Transit and allocating $2 billion to the state Transportation Capital Program for infrastructure projects,
- Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour (four year phase-in),
- Providing for Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) increase and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit,
- Increasing the Property Tax Deduction,
- Reinvigorating the Workforce Development Partnership Program (WDPP) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC),
- Funding State Pensions,
- Promoting Tax Fairness,
- Legalizing and Taxing Marijuana,
- Addressing the Opioid Epidemic,
- Restoring Funding for Women’s Health Care and Environmental Programs, and
- Confronting Gun Violence.
The budget appropriations total $37.4 billion with a projected surplus of $743 million. Governor Murphy must work with the Legislature to enact a budget within the 110 day (constitutional deadline). http://www.state.nj.us/governor/news/news/562018/approved/20180313c_budget.shtml
Not all of the legislators agree with Governor Murphy’s plan. According to New Jersey Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, and Morris), “Increasing taxes to avoid fiscal discipline will set us on a path backwards. New Jersey has many challenges that need to be met, but a return to tax and spend governance will hurt taxpayers and our economy, and will make us less competitive among our peer states.”
“Governor Murphy’s first budget plan represents a nearly $3 billion spending increase over last year’s budget act,” Oroho explained. “With growing demands due to pension and health benefit obligations, in addition to Governor Murphy’s expanding wish list of large spending items such as free community college and more money for a flawed school funding formula, the price tag will only continue to go up for New Jersey taxpayers.”
Senator Oroho is a Certified Financial Planner with extensive tax reform experience. He stated, “As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I plan a full review of Governor Murphy’s budget proposal,” He added, “I believe Governor Murphy is sincere in his effort to create a stronger New Jersey, however, from what I’ve heard today, I am very concerned that we are only adding to our reputation as a state where it is a real challenge to run a business and to live and raise a family affordably.”
Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.
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