New Jersey lawmakers on Wednesday approved a massive $50.6 spending plan for the state, the largest budget in its history.
The budget includes various tax breaks and investments, including a property tax relief plan, fee holidays for marriage and driver’s licenses, $1.8 billion going towards water infrastructure to replace lead pipes and address other problems, and $2.9 billion for capital projects for the Schools Development Authority, New Jersey Transit, and the Department of Transportation.
Here are some of the highlights of the budget:
Wins for Yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs
For the first time in 15 years, the allocation for remedial services such as tutors, kriah programs, etc. has been slightly increased, a major accomplishment
The budget also increases transportation funding from $1,000 per child to $1,022 per child – a significant difference-maker in the ongoing transportation difficulties for private school students in Lakewood, Jackson, Toms River, and beyond.
Also increased in the budget is per-pupil security funding, from $175 per student to $205 per student. Once the budget is signed into law by Governor Murphy, New Jersey will have the largest per-pupil security budget in the nation.
Property Tax Relief
The budget includes Governor Murphy’s touted ANCHOR Property Tax Relief program, which is expected to provide up to $2 billion in property tax relief to millions of homeowners and renters.
The ANCHOR program will provide rebates of $1,500 for homeowners with a household income less than $150,000, $1,000 for homeowners with households making between $150,000 and $250,000 per year, and $450 for renters with incomes up to $150,000.
The average property tax bill in New Jersey in 2021 was $9,284 – one of the highest in the nation, and supporters of the ANCHOR program say it will save an average of $971 a year for some 2 million New Jerseyans.
Tax and Fees Holidays
Included in the budget is a 10-day sales tax holiday for back-to-school shopping. The holiday includes sales tax on school items from pencils and notebooks to laptops, TVs, and even bikes. The sales tax holiday will be between August 27th and September 5th.
Lawmakers also allocated $60 million so that fee holidays can be offered for marriage licenses, driver’s license renewals, entry into state parks, and healthcare professionals’ license renewals.
The Schools Development Authority will get about $1.9 billion to pay for schools facilities projects, emergent needs and maintenance. It also includes $350 million for school districts that are not under the Schools Development Authority.
The legislation provides $12.8 billion to New Jersey’s schools, which is still about $600 million short of fully funding them, with legislators saying fully funding them will be a priority in next year’s budget.
Preparing for Recession
The budget also puts away $6 billion into savings. Lawmakers say these funds are critical to help New Jersey’s credit rating, but also to help out the state when an apparently looming recession hits.
Republicans are less than thrilled with the budget, with many saying it will fan inflationary pressures in New Jersey.
“The seeds of future State budget deficits and tax increases are sowed with this budget. As inflation rages on, New Jersey is doing its part to fan the inflationary flames,” said Republican Senator Joe Pennacchio.
“Since the Administration turnover, we have seen the State’s budget increase 40 percent. Forty percent is not sustainable. That’s not rocket science. Economies rise and fall as sure as the sun rises and sets,” he said.
“With tax revenues at an all-time high, it is extremely frustrating that once again Gov. Murphy’s budget fails to make New Jersey more affordable for middle class families,” said Senator Kristin Corrado. I strongly voted no on this non-transparent budget, which ignores the Republican’s commonsense proposals to provide $8 billion in tax relief and $1,500 rebates for four million families. This was a missed opportunity that sadly will solidify New Jersey’s position as one of the most unaffordable states in the nation.”