The following are Senate Republican Budget Officer Anthony Bucco’s remarks as prepared for delivery during today’s Senate session vote on the Democrats’ tax-raising Fiscal Year 2016 New Jersey budget proposal:
“Good afternoon. I’d like to start by thanking all of my colleagues on the budget committee, Chairman Sarlo and our staff members for the shared dedication and effort we put in to this state budget. While we all may want different things, and not everyone gets exactly what they want in a multibillion dollar budget, we did find some common ground on a lot of top priorities, such as record-high funding for education and significant investments in health care.
“However, there are serious problems with this proposed budget that we are being asked to vote on today. Foremost, the Senate Republican caucus and I don’t support the proposals in this budget to raise income taxes and employer taxes on New Jersey’s over-taxed, hard-working residents and small businesses.
— Sen. Anthony Bucco (@tonybucco) June 25, 2015
“These tax increase proposals would take money from job creators that would otherwise be used to hire more workers, provide raises for hard-working employees, and offer valuable training for people in the workforce. They would also cause layoffs and furloughs; increase costs for consumers; and prevent capital investments in new equipment, technological upgrades and repairs, which in turn support local jobs, economic growth and safety.
“In this economic climate which is extremely competitive for jobs among states, the message of lower taxes and greater opportunities is giving a vast edge to our neighbors across the Hudson and Delaware rivers and beyond.
“As a small business owner, I know firsthand the incentives that are offered should I move my company across the Hudson or Delaware. We cannot afford as a state to raise taxes yet again and risk losing more businesses and jobs in New Jersey. I also have many interactions with other business owners who have moved themselves and their companies out of this state because of increased taxes and too many regulations.
“We all know that these proposed tax increases will not actually fix the state pension funding issue or replace the need for reforms that my caucus, along with our constituents and media outlets, has said are necessary.
“It is our responsibility to pass a budget that serves the interests of all New Jerseyans, not just the public sector. New Jersey residents who are in the private sector are equally important and vital to our state economy; they need to be supported also.
“This is not to say that we should oppose our public-sector employees. I believe everyone should receive the retirement benefits promised to them. That’s why I support making as large a pension payment as possible with the additional revenue we received.
“This record-high state pension payment of $1.3 billion means that in the past five years, we’ve supported more money infused in the state pension system than in the five previous administrations combined over 15 years;
“It shows that without raising taxes and with added reforms, we can make the system stronger and ensure that all retired pensioners will continue receiving their checks.
“All of us in this chamber can appreciate the blood, sweat and tears by all those who work in the Garden State, in both our private and public sectors. New Jersey has some of the highest-taxed middle-class families and homeowners in our nation.
“Legislators, the governor, and labor groups all need to come together and make the pension system affordable, sustainable and solvent for both taxpayers and beneficiaries.
“New Jersey’s noncompetitive, unbalanced and costly income tax structure chases to other states job creators and the oldest and wisest generation of residents;
“We risk losing more of these very people we rely on to grow our state and fund critical aspects of the budget, such as education and higher education.
“For these reasons, I will be voting no on the budget. But, if this budget is passed today, my colleagues and I are confident that the Governor and his administration will responsibly handle any necessary adjustments to keep our state on the right track. Thank you.”