The following editorial by Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) regarding New Jersey’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget was published on July 2, 2019 on NorthJersey.com.
The following editorial by Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) regarding New Jersey’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget was published on July 2, 2019 on NorthJersey.com. (SenateNJ.com)
It’s no secret that New Jersey has some of the most crushing financial problems of any state nationwide. We are dealing with a governor that continuously overtaxes and overspends, with little regard to how this impacts hardworking families and business owners. Sky-high taxes are forcing long-time Garden State residents to pack up and flee to more affordable states.
That’s why, when Governor Murphy advocated for $600 million in tax increases in his budget proposal, a number of courageous Republicans reached across the aisle to fight back.
Because of our efforts, this Legislature was able to pass a budget that eliminated Governor Murphy’s $600 million in proposed tax hikes. In fact, there are no new broad-based tax increases in this budget.
Had Senate Republicans not participated in these budget negotiations, an ongoing war between factions in the Democratic Party would have led to a government shutdown and ultimately – increased taxes. State parks could have been closed for the Fourth of July.
Contrary to what some pundits have said, it’s important to note that the FY2020 State Budget passed by the Legislature on a bipartisan basis does not include funding for attorneys for illegal immigrants, nor does it include funding for Planned Parenthood. These extraneous expenses were removed from the budget and voted on separately. I strongly rejected Governor Murphy’s attempts to fund those expenses, by voting no on those proposals.
Now, Even President Donald Trump recognizes our successful efforts to pass a budget that doesn’t raise taxes, giving people who were on the edge of leaving New Jersey a reason to stay.
The budget that Senate Republicans helped shape also increases funding for our priorities, including special education, NJ Transit, and property tax relief.
Reforming how we fund the special education needs of our most vulnerable students is one of my primary concerns as a legislator.
Earlier this spring, my Senate Republican colleagues and I introduced the “Every Child Counts” school funding reform plan, the prime focus of which is to increase funding for special education. This plan would be a game-changer. Our reforms would bring fairness and equity to the way we fund our schools, and ensure every child has an opportunity to succeed, regardless of their zip code. This is real property tax relief in action.
In keeping with that plan, I am proud to be the lead sponsor of a proposal that would shift the substantial cost of extraordinary special education from local school districts, to the State. The Senate President, to his credit, is also committed to this goal.
The $50 million we secured in this year’s budget for extraordinary special education is a down payment on our long-term special education funding plan. This increase will help relieve school districts of severe financial burdens, again, providing real property tax relief to homeowners.
The budget also increased support for NJ Transit by $150 million. This funding is essential for the North Jersey economy, which is dependent on transportation infrastructure and logistics. Our commuters deserve a more efficient and reliable mass transportation system. The funding we fought for in this budget will get NJ Transit back on track.
The FY2020 budget also includes a responsible pension payment and significant public employee health benefits savings. Lowering the cost of government will help us lower the cost of living in New Jersey.
We need to keep moving the ball forward on structural fiscal reforms that will help us to hold the line on spending and taxes. It’s imperative that we continue our work on pension and benefit reforms, which could save New Jersey taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and even more over time.
If Governor Murphy had his way, his recommended $600 million in unnecessary tax hikes would have crushed New Jersey families. The Governor’s original budget proposal included cornerstones of the liberal agenda, such as increasing taxes on income, businesses, legal firearms, and even cell phones. The budget passed by the Legislature with bipartisan support rejected those tax increases.
This is not a perfect budget. No budget is. We have unfinished business to take care of, including implementing greater fiscal reforms, such as our bipartisan Path to Progress proposals. The Legislature should not stop until real property tax reform is achieved.
The solution to our State’s fiscal woes isn’t raising taxes. To fix New Jersey, we need to make the difficult, but necessary choices that will make this state more affordable for everyone.
Senate Republicans came to the negotiating table to ensure Governor Murphy’s needless tax hikes were rejected and removed from the budget. Our endeavors have ensured that New Jersey families will receive a fair and honest budget deal with increased support for special education students, commuters, and homeowners. This is a win for the Garden State.