PISCATAWAY, NJ -- Gov.Phil Murphy today delivered his revised $32.4 billion Fiscal Year 2021 Budget -- including "revenue raisers," such as higher taxes on New Jersey millionaires, a "baby bond" of $1,000 for babies born in 2021, spending cuts, $4 billion in borrowing, and a $2.2 billion closing surplus -- to fill huge revenue gaps following the COVID pandemic.
"We can’t build the same NJ we had before #COVID19. We can’t run the same plays of the past, which only provided short-term political cover while not providing any long-term systemic reform," Murphy said during his presentation at Rutgers SHI Stadium in Piscataway.
Among the spending measures in the budget:
- $4 billion in bonding measures
- A "millionaires tax"
- $155 million investment in long-term care facilities.
- $150 million to colleges and universities to defray the costs they have incurred in responding to this pandemic and to ensure that high-quality learning isn’t sacrificed.
- $125 million to help renters and landlords.
- More than $100 million directly into our Main Street small businesses through grants and loans and into capital investment guarantees for nascent start-ups.
- $50 million to our public and non-public schools to help bridge the digital divide.
- A $5 million investment to start us on the road to early voting, so every citizen can be sure that their voice is heard.
- “Baby bonds” -- a $1,000 payment into an account for every child born in 2021 to a family making up to $131K per year.
(When the child turns 18, he or she would be permitted to withdraw those funds.)
To all the millionaires in our state: We ask you to sacrifice pennies on the dollar to ensure that every New Jerseyan has the same opportunity to succeed as you did. — Gov. Phil Murphy
The spending plan includes a budget surplus of $2.2 billion, which the governor called "a much-needed cushion against revenue shocks from a second wave of COVID-19."
"This surplus is not a luxury. It is a product of lessons learned: Think ahead, be prepared," he said.
"For a majority of our students, remote learning will be part of their day – whether in-part or in-full," Murphy said. "With this will come new burdens on parents who don’t have the ability, or privilege, to provide adequate supervision during times of remote study. So, this budget comes with a promise to these families and students:
- At least $250 million to support our schools in opening more fully for these students
- Subsidies to child-care centers so that more of them can reopen
- Expanded child care subsidies
Murphy also announced that New Jersey will soon open a state-level health exchange under the ACA ("a long-delayed step to make our health insurance marketplace more accessible, more accountable, and more responsive to consumers"). He added that the exchange would help us lower the cost of health care for Garden State residents.
The governor proposes creating a new system of business tax incentives to help small businesses and high-tech startups "built by a diverse group of entrepreneurs, as opposed to showering the wealthy and well-connected with unaffordable tax breaks." He also said that his budget will help create jobs of the future by: investing in the state's infrastructure, in its transportation network and NJ TRANSIT, and in new clean energy and green jobs.
"This budget is not about simply getting back to where we used to be. This budget is about moving New Jersey forward to where we need to be – and to a place where we have never been before," Murphy said. "Together, let’s build a New Jersey that looks forward, not backward. As I close today, I return to one unavoidable truth: We are not through this crisis and this is not a time for complacency. We are still fighting this virus and it is still among us."
Predictably, state leaders were either supportive or critical depending on their party.
"The legislature recognizes the economic and fiscal challenges we face as a state at this time. Now, as we begin to shape the #FY2021Budget, the legislature will continue to enact reforms to improve the quality, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of government services," New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) tweeted.
"What is in Governor Murphy’s budget... More spending, more taxes and more borrowing," Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick tweeted.