The reaction: Messy budget process (it always is) leaves no one totally satisfied (it never does)

New Jersey Policy Perspective and Garden State Initiative rarely agree on anything — especially when it comes to the budget.

Today, however, they found common ground.

In what may be the final budget that is filled with financial windfall, both groups argued about how the $54.3 billion was going to be spent — but came together in agreement on how messy the always-messy process was.

“It’s hard to evaluate this budget when it’s riddled with errors and needs to be corrected,” NJPP President Nicole Rodriguez said.

“What we do know is that an overall lack of transparency rewarded big corporations and special interests at the expense of everyday New Jerseyans. With record revenues and a chance to make generational investments in the state, lawmakers prioritized a $1 billion corporate tax cut and hundreds of millions of dollars to Hollywood studios and real estate developers.

“Make no mistake, there are great investments in the budget worth celebrating, but they pale in size and scope to the tax cuts and credits given to the wealthy and well-connected.”

Garden State Initiative President Regina Egea agreed.

“Any euphoria over the budget that has just passed will be quickly followed by excuses and apologies,” she said. “This bill was presented and voted out of committee with no member even seeing it, let alone the press or public given any access.

“No household or business in New Jersey has been able to increase their spending 50% in the last six years. Gov. Murphy and our Legislature, however, have done just that. They are as disconnected from New Jerseyans’ day-to-day reality as going to Mars, but they simply do not care.

“Let’s call this budget what it is:  A fiscal calamity.”

New Jersey Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Bracken and New Jersey Business & Industry Association CEO Michele Siekerka agreed on their takes — they usually do.

Both praised the governor for allowing the Corporate Business Tax to sunset, meaning it will drop to 9% — which is still the fourth-highest in the country. And those who say this is corporate welfare — some are erroneously calling it a billion-dollar tax cut — are conveniently forgetting that the state still isn’t using its pandemic money to replenish the Unemployment Trust Fund. (That bill goes up by $1 billion this year).

“New Jersey needs true tax reform so we can take advantage of all of our outstanding economic assets — and be the place of choice for executives, business owners and entrepreneurs seeking to expand and create jobs,” Bracken said.

“The healthy surplus realized in the fiscal 2024 budget is largely aided by billions in federal pandemic aid. Forecasts warn that, when that aid runs out in future budget seasons, New Jersey will again be in serious need of revenue, facing potential billion-dollar deficits. And the only way to generate long-term, stable, organic sources of revenue is through a strong economy — which is led by business.”

Business that should not be attacked, Siekerka said.

“Our largest employers certainly deserve better than to be demonized daily for the apparent crime of earning profits against the fiscal headwinds often found in New Jersey,” she said. “Rather, they should be appreciated for what they provide to our economy, our workers, our communities and our nonprofits.”