|TRENTON, March 8, 2022 — New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach and Managing Director of Policy and Water Chris Sturm released the following statements on Governor Murphy’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Address:
“Making New Jersey more affordable in the short term is good, but making changes that will keep it affordable are better,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach.
“We were pleased to see the governor emphasize the importance of making New Jersey an affordable place to live and make a significant commitment to subsidized affordable housing production. But more needs to be done to produce housing in the right places. Housing and transportation are important twin pillars of household affordability. We didn’t hear how the State will be incentivizing new housing that will keep household transportation costs down or places that are walkable and accessible to public transit. The legislature is looking to tackle these twin issues with initiatives that will make it easier to build more housing near train stations, in our downtowns, and even in the extra spaces we currently have on our properties. We hope the governor will recognize the importance of producing more housing options in transportation-affordable locations and support and invest in these efforts.
The governor spoke about property tax relief and funding schools. These are important topics, and the approaches mentioned will provide some temporary relief but won’t address the structural problems that will continue to drive up property taxes and force municipalities into a ‘rateable chase’—always looking for the next tax-paying commercial property to bring to town in the hopes of keeping property taxes low. It is time to be bolder and look at regionalizing school districts, which will have the triple benefit of lower taxes, eliminating the rateable chase, and beginning to address our segregated school system.
An important way to improve household affordability is to avoid new costs. Each year, thousands of homes and businesses in New Jersey experience flood damage and have to pay the costs associated with the damage. We did not hear anything about adapting to climate change and how this will make New Jersey more affordable. Investing more funding in helping towns adapt to climate change will help municipalities, residents, and business owners avoid the costs associated with repetitive flooding. Assistance can be in the form of better planning, strategic buyouts, and even better disclosure of flood risk to prospective property buyers and renters.”
“We thank Governor Murphy for addressing water infrastructure in the state budget and specifically mentioning the need to replace lead pipes. But New Jersey communities need more,” said New Jersey Future Managing Director of Policy and Water Chris Sturm. “They are anxious about how to meet expensive new state requirements for lead pipes, sewer overflows, PFAs, and more without imposing huge rate increases on water and sewer customers. State leaders should help communities pay for these solutions. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the governor and legislature have access to $3 billion in funding, and they should use $1.2 billion of it now to keep clean water affordable.”