(Trenton, NJ – June 30, 2018) – As the former President of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Britnee N. Timberlake was always a staunch advocate for working families. Now as a member of the New Jersey General Assembly representing District 34 (Clifton, East Orange, Orange, and Montclair), amidst the talks of a
government shutdown, her goals are no different.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy submitted a budget to Legislature that included the Millionaire’s Tax (which Timberlake is in favor of), but the proposed budget compromised funding for social services that directly impact the lives of the most disadvantaged people who live in and outside of District 34.
Assemblywoman Timberlake stated, “That budget
was very unkind to Housing Trust Fund Dollars, ReEntry, the Homestead Rebate, and other programs that are important to working families.” As a result, the General Assembly took action by passing their own budget, infusing money back into these programs. Assemblywoman Timberlake championed the need for restoring money to the Housing Trust Fund in the budget. She stated, “I am proud of our Assembly Speaker and leadership. They heard my argument and understood that housing was an issue previously attacked under the Christie administration. Now that Christie is no longer governing,funding housing is a must.”
Although the General Assembly’s budget did not include the Millionaire’s Tax, it did include a Corporation Business Tax, which would generate revenue from corporate profit windfalls over two years. Since taking this action, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Governor Murphy, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney have been in negotiations. On Friday, June 28th the Assembly and Senate submitted a compromise agreement that
included a version of the Millionaire’s Tax and the Corporation Business Tax, but unfortunately, this was not agreed to by all parties.
Governor Murphy has published statements that if his deal is not done then he will line item veto money for the social services that the Assembly funded. In response, Assemblywoman Timberlake professed, “The result of this impasse is the unintended consequence which threatens to cut extremely essential social service line items. Doing so assumes that these services are disposable when in fact they are a must; these are needs and not just wants. To place services like workforce housing in jeopardy of being
cut if a deal is not struck assumes there is no other place to 'trim the fat' in the budget and characterizes these services as being excessive luxuries.” Timberlake added, “This says to New Jersey's most vulnerable families, like the disabled, working poor, single parents, seniors, and other groups, that despite paying into the system, they may not have a roof over their heads at night or food for their children. I will continue to advocate for the 'least of these', which is whom I took the oath of office for. This is not how this process should go. We have worked hard to address the concerns of all parties and avoid a state shutdown.”
Staci Berger, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, also shared here sentiments about the budget crisis. Berger stated, “We are thrilled that the Legislature, at the urging of Assemblywoman Timberlake and others, has taken an important first step in stopping the chronic underfunding of the state's Housing Trust Fund. This will begin to address our housing crisis, which is impacting more than three quarters of N.J. residents.” She went to add, “Our 150 nonprofit community developers and others use the dedicated resources of the Housing Trust Fund to create the homes New Jersians need to be able to afford to
call our state home. We applaud the Legislature for including these funds in its budget."
When asked about creating a compromise that working families in New Jersey canappreciate, Assemblywoman Timberlake responded, “I remain hopeful and optimistic, even in the waning hours of this budget crisis, that our Speaker, our legislative leadership, and our Governor will reach a mutual compromise to avoid any fiscal harmsto our state’s most vulnerable.”
When asked about her support for the governor, Timberlake replied, “Of course I supportthe Governor. He is a good man, extremely qualified, and we door knocked alongside his family to get him elected. I look forward to continuing to serve with him. However, as things are being worked out, I can never forget that I represent families around the state who are in need of services that provide a hand-up not a hand out. Those services must be funded. A budget that uses the needs of families in areas such as Clifton, East Orange,Newark, Orange, and other cities as a bargaining tool will never favor New Jersey’sworking families.”