New Jersey’s $56.6 Billion Budget: A Closer Look

In a late-night session, both chambers of the New Jersey Legislature approved a $56.6 billion spending bill, setting the stage for final budget votes. Let’s delve into the details of this significant financial plan.

The Budget Breakdown

1. Maintaining Pension Obligations

The proposed budget ensures a full payment toward the state’s pension obligations. This commitment reflects the Legislature’s recognition of the importance of supporting retired public employees.

2. Fully Funding School Formula

For the first time, the budget fully funds a school funding formula passed in 2008. This investment in education aims to enhance learning opportunities for New Jersey students and promote equitable access to quality education.

New Jersey state capitol building

3. Addressing Fiscal Challenges

Despite these positive steps, the budget faces challenges. Here are some key points:

  • Spending Increases: The Legislature’s proposal adds approximately $728 million in new spending compared to Governor Phil Murphy’s initial budget proposal in February. This additional spending includes allocations for legislators’ pet projects and reversing cuts made by the governor.
  • Tax Hikes: Alongside the budget, legislators approved several tax hikes. These include reviving a 2.5% surtax on profitable businesses (with a narrower pool of taxpayers), raising the annual tax on health insurance premiums, phasing out a sales tax exemption for electric vehicles by 2025, and ending the annual sales tax holiday for school supplies and electronics in August.
  • Structural Deficit: The budget expands the structural deficit proposed by Governor Murphy to about $2.1 billion. While the state’s reserves remain at a slightly higher level than the governor’s proposal, the structural deficit is expected to grow in the coming years.

Looking Ahead

As New Jersey navigates its fiscal challenges, this budget reflects a delicate balance between investment, responsibility, and addressing critical needs. The road ahead requires continued vigilance and thoughtful decision-making.


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