Friday Facts and Figures is a weekly newsletter with data points, analysis, and commentary on the biggest policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
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Exciting news: The Star-Ledger Editorial Board came out in support of keeping the corporate business tax surcharge in place, saying there is no evidence or data to show that it’s hurting the state’s economy. The editorial highlights how this is a tax on profits made in New Jersey, not just on companies headquartered here, undercutting the argument that this is about making the state competitive. NJPP’s Peter Chen is also quoted in the editorial: “The idea that there has been some sort of corporate flight from the scene is just not borne out by the facts.” [NJ.com / Editorial Board]
Earlier this week, Senate President Nick Scutari (D-Union) said he’s considering keeping the corporate business tax surcharge, calling it a “possibility.” The comments were in response to a question from a reporter on how the state would pay for a new senior tax credit proposal (more on that below). “It’s good news that lawmakers are reconsidering cutting the corporate tax rate, especially given looming revenue shortfalls in the coming months,” NJPP’s Peter Chen told Politico. “But those funds should go towards the investments that make New Jersey a great place to live and do business, investments that have long been underfunded like New Jersey Transit and public schools.” [Politico / Daniel Han]
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) unveiled a new senior tax credit proposal this week — and Governor Murphy has already said he’s opposed to it and would even shut the state down over it. Why? The proposal, while well-intentioned, would target benefits to the wealthiest seniors in the state and leave many low-income seniors with nothing. Here’s how it works: The bill would create a new program, StayNJ, that would provide seniors with a tax credit worth 50 percent of their property tax bill, with credits capped at $10,000. NJPP’s Peter Chen did a quick analysis of the bill and found four major issues: there’s no income limit on eligibility, more expansive homes get higher credits, renters are excluded entirely, and, because the credit isn’t targeted, it would come at an enormous cost to the state just as revenue collections are coming in lower than expected. [NJ.com / Derek Hall]
NJ Transit’s transition to zero-emission electric buses is facing a major obstacle: zero dedicated funds for the chronically underfunded transit agency. While the state has cobbled together funds from the federal government and the Volkswagen emissions settlement to pilot some electric buses in Camden, the state has little to no funding to upgrade existing garages so they can store and charge new electric buses (that the state will also have to purchase). The transition to electric buses “requires sustainable and dependable funding,” said Mark Tuozzolo, NJ Transit’s acting senior director of capital planning. Needless to say, this is just one of many examples of the types of public infrastructure projects that could be funded if the state didn’t give the wealthiest corporations or homeowners a big tax cut. [NorthJersey.com / Colleen Wilson]
NJPP’s first-ever Budget & Brews happy hour is this upcoming Thursday in Trenton! Join your favorite policy wonks and special guest Pat Garofalo, author of The Billionaire Boondoggle, for a night of hot takes and cold drinks. Tickets are free, registration is required. [NJPP / Budget & Brews]
TikToks of NJPP
We are the … 4 percent? A new poll by Rutgers finds that only 4 percent of New Jersey residents know about the state budget (it also shows that keeping the corporate business tax surcharge is more popular than the governor). In a new TikTok about the poll, NJPP’s Erica Boland steps out from behind the camera to break down why the budget is important — and what’s at stake. [NJPP]
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