BY ASSEMBLYMAN TOM GIBLIN
With Memorial Day behind us, legislators are focused on the next big day on the calendar: June 30. That is the day which, by our state constitution, a new budget must be signed.
We saw last year what happened when lawmakers and the governor cannot reach agreement by that date – the shutdown of state government. None of us sitting in the Legislature want that to happen again.
As a legislator, labor leader, and former chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, I recognize that we must hit the “reset” button for New Jersey. The path Governor Phil Murphy has outlined for our fiscal future is the right one.
The Governor is correct: this is the budget we need. It’s time we refocus on our core values of fairness and opportunity. It’s time we end the fiscal games that have ballooned our deficits.
Governor Murphy’s budget would return dividends to middle-class taxpayers, which are greater than what we would pay. The Governor calls this “providing value for money,” and, once again, he’s right.
The Governor has requested $341 million in new funding for our classrooms to prepare our kids for good jobs and strong futures. His willingness to work with the Legislature on a needed modernization of our funding formula would only increase the benefits to our kids and to our communities. And, let’s be clear, funding schools is also direct property tax relief.
The Governor will nearly triple funding for NJTRANSIT, the first step in the long walk back to respectability for the agency. Already, commuters have been told that there will be no fare hike this upcoming year.
Furthermore, NJTRANSIT has outlined an aggressive plan for investing this funding where it is most needed – in getting rail cars back online sooner, in hiring sorely needed bus drivers, and in making safety and efficiency improvements to get the system back on-time.
One of the leading Wall Street ratings agencies, Moody’s, noted the governor’s budget would
begin to move the state’s finances in a positive direction. His proposed reinstatement of a modest millionaire’s tax would only hit the wealthiest residents.
His desire to close corporate tax loopholes that benefit only large, multi-state companies would ensure fairness for small businesses. And, his budget relies less on “one shot” revenues than any other in recent history.
The fact is we are not receiving an “April Surprise” revenue windfall – revenues are flat, and in some categories falling. Meanwhile, we cannot ignore the dire need for vital investment in our state. Therefore, we must act.
We still have several weeks to go. It is time to face the simple reality that Governor Murphy’s budget is the best means for restoring our fiscal condition and growing our economy, for ensuring fairness for our middle class and seniors, for preparing our next generation, for protecting the values we share, and for moving our state forward.
Tom Giblin of Montclair is the Assemblyman from the 34th District.