NJBIA President and CEO Michele N. Siekerka, Esq. issued the following statement regarding Gov. Phil Murphy's proposed FY 2021 budget today.
"NJBIA appreciates Governor Murphy's efforts to prepare a state budget that makes investments in New Jersey's future, particularly given our state's considerable fiscal challenges. We support investments in NJ TRANSIT and workforce development proposed today, and await more details on potential public health benefits savings.
"Unfortunately, this proposed budget continues along the well-worn path of more taxation and spending without truly addressing the structural issues that leave New Jersey with an ever-increasing mountain of debt.
"Today's proposal increases New Jersey's overall budget by 5.4% compared to last fiscal year and 17.6% from FY 2018. To balance this additional spending, the governor is again looking to place an even greater burden on our already overtaxed residents and job creators whose slim profit margins have been reduced amid costly mandates and onerous regulations.
"The question we need to ask ourselves today is: How can tax increases be justified at a time of a budget surplus, built largely on the backs of business, and when spending on discretionary items is going up by hundreds of millions of dollars?
"New Jersey has experienced a net loss of $30.1 billion in adjusted gross income over the last 14 years of available data. This is indisputable. Broadening the base for the top gross income tax rate will do nothing to reverse this trend. It will make more top earners pay the second highest top income rate in the nation. It will also not bring about meaningful property tax relief.
"True relief for the middle class will only be found when our policymakers stop their tax-first approach and embark on a reform agenda that comprehensively addresses underfunded pensions.
"Without that fiscal discipline and political resolve, New Jersey will continue along the path of ballooning budgets and ever-escalating taxes. And our affordability crisis will worsen as we wonder what new or increased tax will be proposed next year to fund the pension system.
"We hope that during this budget season, Governor Murphy and the Legislature can work together on a comprehensive strategy that addresses our unsustainable obligations and gives our great state the opportunity to grow our economy through responsible, sound investment."