Legislature passes $50.6B budget; political, business leaders react

The New Jersey Legislature passed the state’s $50.6 billion budget Wednesday, with both the state Senate and Assembly voting to send the plan to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk for his signature.

The final vote was 48-30 in the Assembly and 25-15 in the Senate. Murphy is expected to sign the budget as soon as the end of the week.

State leaders from the political and business worlds were quick to react to the plan.

A sampling of comments:

  • Tom Bracken, CEO and president, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce: “Even after crafting this record-setting spending plan, the state has billions of dollars available from the American Rescue Plan and projected tax revenues. Despite this surplus, no substantial new investments are budgeted for New Jersey’s business community outside of a comparatively small outlay for the Main Street Recovery fund ($50 million out of $50 billion, or 0.1% of the budget) and the possibility of tax credits for some employers who pay into the unemployment insurance fund. It is hugely disappointing that our repeated requests that surplus revenue be used for direct capital infusions to businesses desperately in need of help went unheeded.”
  • Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge): “No new taxes, more than $2 billion in historic tax relief and close to $5 billion in transformative infrastructure investments — this budget delivers for the working- and middle-class people and families of our state. With meaningful property tax relief under ANCHOR, record increases in aid to fund our best-in-the-nation schools, another full pension payment, strategic use of American Rescue Plan dollars, billions of dollars to reduce debt and a historic surplus to provide for the future in these tenuous economic times, we are on track to make a real and lasting difference.”
  • Sen. Edward Durr (R-West Deptford): “I’m very disappointed that Democrats are increasing state spending by 9% when we have a looming recession and sky-high inflation that’s making it hard for families to get by. Instead of giving back billions in tax overcollections to the people, as Republicans proposed, we’re now learning about the billions in pork projects that Democrats jammed into their bloated $50 billion budget.”
  • Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho (R-Sparta): “This budget misses a historic opportunity to give back billions to taxpayers who are struggling with high taxes and inflation. Instead of the $8 billion of tax relief that Republicans proposed, Democrats are giving back scraps while doling out billions of dollars for pork projects that we can do without.”
  • Assembly Budget Chair Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Newark): This budget focuses on making massive investments in tax relief to make New Jersey more affordable while supporting middle-class residents and seniors who are struggling. This budget makes investments in education with the largest school aid funding in State history. This budget invests in hunger prevention, affordable housing, higher education, transportation infrastructure and so many other critical, targeted priorities. This budget also makes the full pension payment for a second year in a row. This budget invests in the economy, in small businesses, and in child care. In almost every single area this budget does something to fix a problem, help a group in need or build upon past success.”
  • Nicole Rodriguez, president, New Jersey Policy Perspective: “New Jersey’s working-class residents, immigrant families and essential workers have faced serious economic challenges since the pandemic, and this budget should have been the prime opportunity to support them with direct relief. Instead, their voices were shut out of the budget process, while behind-the-scenes deals secured hundreds of millions in pet projects and corporate giveaways. With a growing and diverse population, New Jersey should not be a state where a few powerful people make decisions that affect the many without taking their voices into account.”
  • Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-Clark): “This is a budget that puts the focus on our priorities of making New Jersey more affordable, addressing the financial needs of working people and expanding the state’s economy. It emphasizes tax relief, debt reduction, strategic investments and taxpayer safeguards in case of an economic downturn. It includes the largest property tax relief program and the largest surplus in state history, as well as investments in what could be transformational capital projects. In addition to property tax savings for homeowners and renters, it includes the child tax credit, energy tax savings and the back-to-school tax holiday. We are putting money into the hands of New Jersey residents at a time they need it most.”