NJ has billions in additional income; Republicans accuse Murphy administration of keeping them in the dark
After years of seeking budget-time funding, New Jersey lawmakers say the state now has more money than they know what to do with. And with just three weeks to go to the state budget deadline, Republicans say the Murphy administration is denying them a choice of how to use the $ 4 billion in tax revenue.
” This is unheard of. The entire time I’ve been here we’ve been facing shortfalls, ”said Republican State Senator Declan O’Scanlon.
Since Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget message in February, the state has been left with $ 4 billion more than expected as the economy recovers from the pandemic.
“We have a lot more money than we expected and it is time to give it back to the taxpayers,” said Republican State Senator Sam Thompson.
Republicans on Thursday asked the Murphy administration to include them in discussions about where the money is going before the final budget is signed on June 30.
“We were basically left out, left in the dark,” Republican State Senator Mike Testa said.
It comes the day after state treasurer Elizabeth Muoio abruptly canceled her scheduled appearance before the Senate Budget Committee.
“Frankly, the administration is hiding its treasurer from us because she is frankly concerned about the questions that will be put to her during a budget hearing,” says Testa.
Muoio sent a written testimony, which read in part: “… the state’s tax collections in fiscal year 2021 (FY21) are reaching historic highs…. We are not only back to pre-pandemic levels, but we have exceeded those levels. “
A two-month tax collection increase in April and May means the Murphy administration has $ 2.4 billion more in income tax payments, $ 1 billion in corporate tax payments and over half a billion more in sales taxes than expected.
“You have two pots of income – one is stimulus money and the other is tax revenue,” says Thompson.
With all that money, plus another $ 4 billion borrowed during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Murphy’s plans to set more than $ 10 billion aside in an emergency, Republicans want to talk from more property tax cuts, debt repayments or making larger retirement payments.
“The time has come, we need to have this discussion,” Testa said.
Democratic Senate Budget Chairman Paul Sarlo said Treasurer Muoio submitted her final budget report. Sarlo says the stimulus money should be used to pay down debt and close funding gaps.