Tagged: New Jersey General Assembly

Governor Murphy Presents His Fiscal Year 2023 Budget

Governor Murphy presented his Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Budget to a joint session of the State Legislature in a live address for the first time since February 2020. The proposed budget totals $48.9 billion – a $2.5 billion increase over the FY 2022 budget – and includes a $4.2 billion surplus, which is nearly double the surplus included in last year’s budget. The proposal does not include any new taxes or fees. In fact, the Governor’s spending plan includes a one-year fee holiday to waive fees typically assessed for driver’s license renewals, marriage licenses, state park entry, and license fee applications or renewals for roughly 130,000 professionals across the health care spectrum. The Governor themed his budget address around one word: Affordability. This became a key issue in the 2021 gubernatorial and legislative election, and is something both the Governor and legislative leaders identified as their priority for the current legislative session. The budget proposal looks to improve affordability in the State by addressing property taxes and access to housing. It appropriates $900 million for the Affordable New Jersey Communities for Homeowners and Renters (ANCHOR) Property Tax Relief Program, which proposes to provide property tax rebates to both homeowners and tenants. Additionally, the Governor’s budget allocates $300 million to the Affordable Housing Protection Fund to...

A Look at the 220th Legislature and Annual State of the State Address

On January 11, 2022, New Jersey began a new legislative session marked by the Legislature’s reorganization and the Governor’s State of the State Address. Legislative Reorganization Democrats retained control of both houses, albeit with much smaller margins after Republicans managed to win back several seats in the November elections. Democrats now hold a 24 to 16 majority in the Senate and a 46 to 34 majority in the General Assembly. The Senate has new leadership for the first time in twelve years, with Senator Nicholas Scutari of Union County being sworn in as the Senate President and Senator Teresa Ruiz of Essex County becoming the Senate Majority Leader. Senator Sandra Cunningham of Hudson County remains the Senate President Pro Tempore. Senator Steven Oroho of Sussex County is now the Republican Leader, replacing Tom Kean, Jr., who did not run for reelection in order to focus on his campaign for the 7th Congressional District. The Senate also welcomed five new members. Senators Jon Bramnick (R-21), Gordon Johnson (D-37), Jean Stanfield (R-8), and Andrew Zwicker (D-16) all previously served in the General Assembly. Senator Ed Durr (R-3) has not previously held elective office. In the Assembly, Craig Coughlin of Middlesex County and Louis Greenwald of Camden County will continue as Speaker and Majority Leader, respectively, for another...

A Look at Governor Murphy’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Proposal

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and an upcoming election in which the governorship and all 120 seats of the Legislature are on the line, Governor Murphy presented his Fiscal Year 2022 Proposed Budget through a virtual address. Unveiling a $44.8 billion spending plan, the Governor proposed no tax increases, a full payment to the pension system, new initiatives, and a significant surplus. Projected Revenues The Governor estimates total revenue in FY 2022 of $47.2 billion, due in large part to the FY 2021 revenues exceeding projections, which provides an opening balance for FY 2022 of $4.9 billion. The Administration also estimates a 2.4 percent growth in total revenue during FY 2022. Revenues are not based on any increases in tax rates or new taxes and do not account for any additional federal assistance to the State from a new stimulus package. Proposed Appropriations Total appropriations of $44.8 billion are $3.6 billion more than the prior fiscal year’s, an increase of 8.8 percent. The two largest expenses in the Proposed Budget are pre-K – 12 education ($18.1 billion) and the full Actuarially Determined Contribution (ADC) pension payment ($6.4 billion). These two items by themselves account for 55 percent of the State’s total spending. Other significant appropriations include: $2.6 billion to the State’s higher education...

A Look at the Nine-Month State Budget Proposed By Governor Murphy

Governor Murphy presented a nine-month budget on August 25, 2020, for the abbreviated State Fiscal Year starting October 1, 2020. Relying on a mix of borrowing, tax increase, and budget cuts, the Governor’s proposal for the nine-month fiscal year proposes $32.4 billion in spending, with a proposed budget surplus of $2.2 billion. Coupled with the temporary three-month budget effective July 1 to September 30, 2020, total spending over the twelve-month period would total slightly more than $40 billion. The Governor’s Budget Proposal estimates that roughly $6.2 billion of funding is required to offset anticipated lost revenues from COVID-19. To make up for that shortfall, the Governor is proposing to borrow $4.0 billion as authorized by the “COVID-19 Emergency Bond Act.” The New Jersey Supreme Court recently upheld the Act as constitutionally permissible under the Emergency Exception of the Debt Limitation Clause. An additional $1.0 billion in tax increases and $1.2 billion in programmatic cuts are also proposed. The two main tax increases proposed include a tax of 10.75 percent on income over $1.0 million and an extension of the Corporate Business Tax surcharge of 2.5 percent. The Budget Proposal does maintain some programmatic spending at levels equal to that of the prior fiscal year and proposes new spending. For example, there are no cuts to...

Governor Murphy Proposes the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget

Governor Phil Murphy presented the outline of his spending plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 to the State Legislature on February 25, 2020. The FY 2021 Budget proposes total revenues exceeding $42.7 billion (a 4.3 percent increase from FY 2020), and $40.8 billion in total appropriations (a 2.2 percent increase from FY 2020). An additional $1.6 billion is dedicated for surplus and $300 million is directed into the State’s “rainy day” fund. If enacted as proposed, this would be the largest budget in New Jersey history. One of the biggest expenses is the annual payment to the State’s pension system; a proposed total of $4.9 billion for FY 2021. If funded at this level by the Legislature, the contribution to state pension system would consume 12 percent of all state appropriations. This contribution is still only about 80 percent of what is actuarially required. Additional priorities for the Governor include increases to the state education funding formula by $336 million; another $132 million for NJ Transit; creating the Garden State Guarantee to provide two years of tuition free higher education; funding for lead service line replacements; and expanding eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit Program and the Pharmaceutical Assistance for the Aged and Disabled and Senior Gold programs. The Governor proposes to pay for...

Highlights from the Swearing-In of the 219th Legislature and Governor’s State of the State Address

The 219th Session of the New Jersey Legislature started on January 14, 2020 with the reorganization of the Legislature and the Governor’s State of the State Address. Legislative Reorganization The General Assembly welcomed seven new members, with Democrats still retaining a significant 52-28 majority. Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) retained his post for another two-year term, as did Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-6) and Minority Leader John Bramnick (R-21). The State Senate is also controlled by the Democratic Party with a 25-15 majority. Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) became the longest-serving Senate President in New Jersey history, starting his sixth term as leader of the Senate. Senator Tom Kean (R-21) returns as Senate Minority Leader for another term. In their respective speeches, legislative leaders struck similar messages of unity, compromise, and improving the quality of life for all residents. Senate President Sweeney focused on school funding, higher education, water quality, and the need for improvements to New Jersey Transit. Speaker Coughlin and Majority Leader Greenwald highlighted their priorities which included water quality, as well as tax reform and affordability, behavioral health, and food insecurity. Assembly Republican Leader Bramnick took a different approach and specifically addressed cooperation, and condemned hate and violence at all levels. He did, however, put forth a proposal to cap legislative spending increases...

2019 Election Results Bring Little Change to State Legislature

Democrats billed the 2019 elections as a referendum on President Trump. Republicans dubbed the off-year contests as the “Murphy Mid-Term” and a chance to stall Democratic attempts to build on the “blue wave” of 2018. Who was right? It looks like both sides can declare victory. With the 80 seats of New Jersey General Assembly up for election, along with a Special Election for the Senate seat in the First Legislative District (Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic Counties), the election returns produced mostly a status quo result. Democrats will continue to control both the General Assembly and State Senate, but with majorities slightly smaller than in the past session. All three Democratic incumbents in the First Legislative District lost to their respective Republican challengers. The race for the two Assembly seats in the Second Legislative District was extremely close, but it appears the Democratic incumbents will be victorious. Even with the loss in the First Legislative District, Democrats still retain a wide majority in the Assembly (52-28) and the Senate (25-15). Republican incumbents were able to hang onto victory in District 8 (Burlington County), District 21 (Morris, Somerset, and Union Counties), and District 25 (Morris and Somerset), where Democrats ran particularly hard in all three districts. Democrats did show strength at the local and county...

Four Things to Watch After Legislature Cancels Votes on Marijuana

To the dismay of advocates and the cheers of opponents, the New Jersey Legislature canceled its scheduled votes on a three-bill package to legalize marijuana for adult use, expand the State’s medical marijuana program, and expunge the records of certain marijuana offenders. For the time being, New Jersey will not become the eleventh state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. But with legislators still committed to moving the issue in the future, here are four things to watch in the coming months. Will the Governor Take Action to Expand the State’s Existing Medical Marijuana Program? Marijuana is legal for medical use in New Jersey, and the State’s medical program has seen a rapid expansion under the Murphy Administration. Under the current framework of the “Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act,” the Governor has the authority to permit more alternative treatment centers (ATCs) in the State, and to continue to expand the list of qualifying medical conditions that marijuana can be prescribed for. Governor Murphy and his Department of Health did a call for applicants in August 2018, and issued permits for six new vertically-integrated ATCs. The Governor expressed his desire to expand the medical marijuana program aggressively if legislation did not move forward. Administration officials have walked back the Governor’s statement in order to focus...

Medical Marijuana Reforms on the Horizon

Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature are taking actions towards expanding the medical marijuana program. The Governor announced new rules and regulations to reduce barriers to access for medical marijuana. These include expanding the list of debilitating medical conditions eligible for treatment with cannabis, permitting currently licensed Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) to dispense at satellite locations, eliminating the physician registry for doctors who prescribe marijuana, and soliciting new applicants for ATC permits. These actions stem from the Administration’s report on ways to expand access to marijuana for medical purposes. The New Jersey General Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee also recently approved legislation that would vastly expand the State’s existing medical marijuana program. The bill, A-3740, would allow medical marijuana to be prescribed for any condition and give greater flexibility for patients and caregivers to purchase and transport medical marijuana. Most importantly, and unlike the current medical marijuana distribution system where ATCs both cultivate and dispense medical marijuana, A-3740 creates a separate manufacturing and licensure system. The bill allows for the licensure of 34 medical marijuana dispensaries that would be authorized to dispense marijuana and marijuana products to patients. The legislation would also permit licensure of six medical marijuana cultivator-processors to process marijuana and marijuana infused/derived products, which it may supply to medical marijuana dispensaries....

Governor Murphy Delivers Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Address

Governor Phil Murphy delivered his first budget address to the New Jersey State Legislature on Tuesday, March 13th. The Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Budget totals $37.4 billion, which is a $2.7 billion increase from the $34.7 billion spending plan enacted in Fiscal Year 2018. The Governor stated that the proposed FY 2019 Budget is “realistic and responsible,” affirms New Jersey’s values, and will begin the process of returning New Jersey to being a “good value for good money.” To accomplish this, Governor Murphy is proposing to: Increase public school spending by $341 million in FY 2019 with the goal of reaching full funding in four years; Invest an additional $83 million in pre-K this year and start a four-year expansion of a statewide program; Make community college tuition free for all in three years by investing an additional $50 million this fiscal year; Add 3,500 new Tuition Aid Grant awards; Triple funding for New Jersey Transit with an additional $242 million in investment; Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit from 35 percent to 40 percent over three years; Provide $3.2 billion in payments to the state pension system; Increase the minimum wage to $11 per hour for state employees; Raise the state property tax deduction to $15,000; and Create a new Child and...