New State Budget is a Missed Opportunity to Make New Jersey Affordable for All

New state budget proposal was drafted behind closed doors and falls short of directing relief to low-paid workers who need it most.

Published on Jun 27, 2022 in Tax and Budget

Today, the New Jersey Legislature released its budget proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. The $50.6 billion budget bill was not introduced to the Senate Budget Committee until 8:24 PM and was quickly passed out of committee 25 minutes later, depriving advocates, reporters, and lawmakers of an opportunity to read and analyze the legislation. In response to the budget proposal, New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP) releases the following statements.

Nicole Rodriguez, President, New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP):

On the lack of transparency in the budget-making process:

“New Jersey’s budget-making process is fundamentally broken, and this year was even worse than usual. This was yet another last-minute budget cooked up in a back room with no opportunity for residents, reporters, advocates, or even some lawmakers to analyze the document, let alone read it before it was voted on. Lawmakers could have released their budget proposal before the eleventh hour, held public hearings on how to spend the state’s record surplus and federal aid, and publicly released their budget resolutions. Instead, chaos and backroom deals ruled the day, with 60 budget bills introduced at the last minute, some added to and removed from the agenda with no notice, no bill texts available, and no chance for residents to meaningfully weigh in on billions of dollars worth of spending.

“As soon as budget negotiations moved behind closed doors, proposals that benefit big corporations, special interests, and wealthy residents were put on the fast-track, while many policies that would have helped working- and middle-class families were left on the cutting room floor. This is an affront to democracy and good governance and must be reformed so that more residents can have a seat at the table and hold their elected officials accountable.”

On the budget being a missed opportunity to help those with the least:

“This budget deal was a missed opportunity to provide direct relief to working families who have been historically left behind in the policy-making process. In a year where there was no shortfall of dollars, there was a shortfall of political will to do the right thing and help those with the least. The state could have made transformative investments in direct relief to low-paid essential workers, immigrant taxpayers who are banned from safety net programs they help fund, and very low-income families who can’t keep up with rising prices and inflation. It makes little economic sense to spend more on tax relief for upper-middle-class homeowners and corporations than on families who need the most help. Prioritizing the state’s lowest-paid working families would have been both the moral thing to do and the best way to build an economy that works for everyone.”

On the newly created Child Tax Credit for working families:

“New Jersey will become a more affordable place to start and grow a family thanks to the state’s newly created Child Tax Credit, which will put hundreds of dollars back into the pockets of families with young children. Modeled off the highly successful federal Child Tax Credit, this program will provide working families a critical lifeline for basic needs like food, housing, child care, and more. With that federal credit in limbo and one in 10 children living in poverty, this is a big policy win for families in every corner of the state.

“Families earning up to $30,000 would earn $500 per child under six years old, slowly reducing for taxpayers until they reach $80,000 in income. We are under no illusion that this credit alone will end child poverty, but this commitment will go a long way for the working- and middle-class families who qualify. This credit can also be expanded and built on in future years, which we think lawmakers will do once they see its success.

“The Child Tax Credit should be one part of a broader reimagining of New Jersey’s social safety net: expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to make work pay, reforming our WorkFirst New Jersey program for very-low-income residents, and building stronger supports for immigrant residents shut out from federal aid. NJPP will continue to fight for these changes in the coming year.”

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