TRENTON - Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove want concerned constituents to know that proposed cuts to the Homestead Benefit Program were avoided in the adopted Fiscal Year 2019 State Budget.

In April, the 9th District Delegation alerted constituents that Governor Murphy had proposed cutting Homestead rebates in half, and pledged their commitment to reject funding cuts to the vital property tax relief program.

“In what was an otherwise irresponsible and bloated State budget, the proposed $154 million cut to the Homestead Benefit program ultimately never happened, with the funding fully restored in the final approved budget. Certainly, the program has been and remains underfunded, but at least devastating funding cuts that would have proven very financially difficult for affected homeowners were successfully defeated.

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“The Murphy-proposed Homestead Benefit cuts proved to be an issue that both Republicans and Democrats in the State Legislature joined in opposition to in a bipartisan effort. Evidently, property tax relief didn’t rank among the Governor’s funding priorities, such as providing $2.1 million in taxpayer dollars to cover the legal costs for illegal aliens who are facing deportation.

“Evidently, Homestead rebates have been a prime target in budget deliberations, despite how critical it is for property tax relief. Under an agreement reached for last year’s State budget, former Governor Christie agreed to delay payments of the Homestead Benefit program, resulting in eligible recipients receiving roughly half the amounts of their rebates in the beginning of this year.

“Recognizing it as nothing other than a budget scheme, our Delegation opposed and voted against delaying the homestead payment. We did so with the understanding that a significant number of our constituents rely on property tax relief programs to remain in their homes and would be hit hard financially.

“New Jersey is becoming increasingly unaffordable for too many residents. Tax relief should be prioritized – not put on the chopping block as a first move or final concession in state budget deliberations.”