NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka issued the following statement regarding Gov. Phil Murphy’s signing of the $46.4 billion, FY22 State Budget on Tuesday.
“Overall, this budget addresses some major needs for New Jersey, while leaving other needs unfulfilled.
“The $6.9 billion payment into our underfunded pension system, to go along with $3.7 billion to address New Jersey’s perennial debt load, are indeed great positives that should not be understated. While we maintain pension reform is still needed and the state did itself no favors by unnecessarily borrowing more than $4 billion last year, these are two responsible fiscal commitments that New Jersey greatly needs.
“The inclusion of workforce development investments in this budget, which NJBIA strongly advocated for along with our county colleges, are also big positives we truly appreciate.
“New Jersey still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. We have employers who can’t fill jobs and a changing and dynamic workplace landscape. The continued and further commitments to these programs will bring more re-skilling, up-skilling and basic training at a critical time.
“It is unsettling that this budget fails to include an appropriation to pay down the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund debt to delay or soften a payroll tax increase on businesses, which is presumed to start in two days. While a law passed earlier this year will lessen the blow of paying a $1 billion tax increase over three years, this budget surplus was an opportunity to reduce what is a tax on jobs for employers.
“It is imperative that this UI tax be addressed in the federal American Rescue Plan funding to help our businesses with their recovery.
“Overall state spending remains a great concern. With $46.4 billion in appropriations, this budget is a dramatic 35% increase from four years ago and more than $1.5 billion higher than Gov. Murphy’s budget presentation only four months ago. Further, New Jersey’s structural imbalance – the total amount of spending vs. incoming revenues – increased from $4 billion in February to $4.3 billion today.
“It should go without saying – but we’ll say it again – this level of spending is simply not sustainable. So, as we look favorably upon a budget that does not include any direct tax increases this fiscal year, we also look ahead and wonder if we didn’t miss a great opportunity to avoid tax increases in the near future.”