Essential Workers, Advocates Call for Affordability for All as FY2023 Budget Deadline Looms

Essential Workers, Advocates Call for Affordability for All as FY2023 Budget Deadline Looms

ANCHOR property tax relief backed by Gov. Murphy and legislators does not provide enough relief for, and investment in, New Jersey’s working families and communities of color.

 

June 20, 2022 – Trenton: With the July 1st state budget looming, advocates and labor groups urged lawmakers to ensure impactful investments in New Jersey’s essential workers and communities of color, making the Garden State affordable for all its residents. The ANCHOR tax relief program proposed by Governor Murphy and state legislators would provide some benefits to homeowners and renters but would not provide the needed relief to New Jersey’s lowest-earning essential workers, communities of color, and its most vulnerable residents.

With an unprecedented surplus, including a record-breaking $10.7 billion surplus and $3 billion in remaining federal aid funds, the state is well positioned to provide critical, life sustaining relief to the workers and families that have borne the brunt of the pandemic and struggle with rising inflation.

An expanded state level Earned Income Tax Credit, Hazard Pay for essential workers, the Excluded New Jerseyan Fund, TANF reform and a new state level Child Tax Credit are pending before the Legislature and would build upon existing popular programs to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in relief and support to the working poor, targeting the families that need it most.

“Hundreds of thousands of essential workers and families of color are struggling to make ends meet and to pay for basic expenses. We risked our lives during the pandemic so that others could shelter at home in safety. We shouldn’t have to worry about paying rent and putting food on the table, but unfortunately, that’s the reality I’m facing. With billions in its coffers, the state must provide us with relief, not upper middle class homeowners,” said Andres Garce, essential warehouse worker and member of Make the Road NJ from Perth Amboy, NJ.

“We can’t make New Jersey affordable for all without addressing the racial and socio-economic inequities that the pandemic and rising inflation have only made worse,” said Maura Collinsgru, New Jersey Citizen Action Director of Policy and Advocacy. “But to address these issues we need impactful reforms that help New Jersey families, such as expanding the state EITC and overhauling our TANF program. We urge Governor Murphy and lawmakers to do much more with this unprecedented budget surplus than provide tax relief for homeowners”

“New Jersey was one of the first states hit by the pandemic, but communities of Color and low-income families are still last in line for recovery. The day-one racial and economic disparities of COVID-19 are not going to disappear with time. Inaction has only bred further inequity. That is why we call on the State to both address the harms of the past and build strong safety nets for the future, first by providing hazard pay and direct relief for workers and then by investing in the expansion of EITC and overhauling TANF,” said Amy Torres with New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.

“Thanks to the strong leadership of Governor Murphy, Speaker Coughlin, and Senate President Scutari, New Jersey is in better financial standing than it’s been in years. Our leaders have the opportunity to prioritize equity when investing this year’s surplus and relief funds by centering the people and communities who have given the most and are still struggling to recover from the pandemic. Hazard pay for essential workers is a crucial step towards equity and fairness in the Garden State. We need urgent relief for working families now!” said Kevin Brown, Executive Vice President and New Jersey State Director for SEIU 32BJ. 

“Far too many low-paid workers and families are being left behind in New Jersey’s pandemic recovery,” said Nicole Rodriguez, President of New Jersey Policy Perspective. “With a record-breaking budget surplus, lawmakers can make the state affordable for all by targeting more relief to those who are having the most trouble making ends meet. This year’s budget provides a historic opportunity to create an economy that works for everyone by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, creating a state-level Child Tax Credit, boosting cash assistance, providing hazard pay to essential workers, and ensuring no resident is excluded from pandemic relief.”

Last week, dozens of essential workers delivered a letter NJ Hazard Pay Letter_2.docx (njpp.org)signed by a majority of leading labor unions and workers centers that collectively represent hundreds of thousands of private sector frontline workers, calling on state leadership to invest $100 million in hazard pay. Legislation in support of an expanded state level Earned Income Tax Credit has received bi-partisan support and has more than a dozen cosponsors.

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