The state Senate Budget Committee passed a $50.6 billion budget Monday night, which features an additional heavy infusion of federal funds ($24 billion); and includes $2 billion in property tax relief, $4.2 billion toward the debt avoidance, $6 billion in surplus, and many last-minute line items totaling billions.
“It’s a significant investment of one-time unprecedented federal dollars,” said state Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36), chair of the budget committee.
Republicans didn’t like the bill, and to a person, voted against moving it out of committee, which the democrats control.
“There are 200 line items that we’re going to go through,” said state Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13). “We’ve only had this document for under 20 minutes. We would give back a lot more of this money. In reality, the ANCHOR program is not substantial.”
The GOP senator from Monmouth County highlighted the lack of transparency in the process around a proposed $5 billion in special projects funding.
“There was no competitive nature to this,” O’Scanlon complained.
“When you think about the number of opportunities that were missed in this budget,” added senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho (R-24), who lamented what he described as the structural groundwork for what he anticipates will be the largest tax hike in state history.
The Republican leader praised Sarlo for navigating complicated issues in the budget, however, “It’s something that is the full legislature’s responsibility.”
“The legislature was kept out of the process for the better part of two years,” said state Senator Mike Testa (R-1).
“Our citizens are hurting out there right now,” added state Senator Sam Thompson (R-12), moments before joining his Republican colleagues in expressing a “no” vote. “There’s so much more we could have done. We really haven’t seen the budget.”
On the other side of the Statehouse, the Assembly Budget Committee likewise passed the budget bill along party lines, with Republicans opposing.
Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) issued a statement:
“I am pleased with the work of the Budget Committee led by Chairwoman [Eliana] Pintor Marin today. We have advanced a budget bill that will deliver for the working and middle-class people and families of our state.
“Our planned investments build meaningfully on the Governor’s proposal and months of public input to support New Jersey communities now and into the future. Representing a steadfast commitment to fiscal responsibility and answering the call for greater affordability with historic tax relief, I will be proud to put this bill up for a vote in the Assembly.
“I thank the Governor and Senate President for their partnership and equal commitment to producing a strong and fair budget that speaks to what New Jerseyans need and value.”