Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean delivered the following remarks during today’s Senate session in opposition to the FY 2021 State Budget:
I rise today in opposition to the budget as presented today. Sadly, this budget is a wasted opportunity to restructure our State’s finances in a way that will responsibly and safely rebuild our economy, an economy truly ravaged over the past several months by the ongoing pandemic.
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean speaking in opposition to the FY 2021 State Budget at the New Jersey State House on September 24, 2020. (SenateNJ.com)
As you know, the Republican members of the Senate Budget Committee offered a number of suggestions that would have put us back on a thoughtful, reasonable fiscal course, including spending the CARES Act money earlier and more fully. There are billions still not spent months after it could have helped families and businesses across the state.
Under Senator Oroho’s leadership, Senate Republicans offered such timely solutions as putting a stop to New York’s excessive taxation of New Jersey residents who work from home for New York corporations. It was a suggestion that would have simultaneously increased New Jersey revenues to support our budget while decreasing tax rates on our residents.
Senate Republicans also asked to hold the line on new nonessential programs and spending — which could have avoided excessive borrowing and these massive tax increases that put NJ second from the top in highest income tax rates in the nation and first, let me say that again, first in the country in corporate business tax rates.
But I want to stress one missed opportunity in particular – a tax inducement for people to make charitable contributions. It enjoys bipartisan sponsorship and every member of this chamber has voted for the legislation when it has come before this house.
Let me remind you — the reason all of us have supported this legislation is because we know – in fact, evidence shows – that charitable deductions encourage people to donate to nonprofit organizations. In return, these nonprofits provide sorely needed services that help families and build stronger communities. The State has always counted on these groups to provide the services they can’t, to provide the safety net where it is needed. It actually saves the State money in the long run.
It was these same nonprofits that we all looked to lend a hand, provide support, offer comfort during the pandemic and now they are suffering as well. Social service agencies are being forced to cut staff and programming, even though demand is at its greatest. Cultural and historical organizations, which have traditionally brought jobs, vibrancy, and economic activity to our cities and downtowns, are struggling to simply hang on.
Senate Republicans called for the modest tax changes we have all supported in the past to be a part of this budget. Supporting charitable deductions would have helped nonprofits and the people they are serving today, right now, in all of our hometowns. It added significant value to the quality of individual lives and the quality of life in our communities.
Every member in this chamber knows it. The Legislature could have done far better for our state through this budget, but it did not. As such, I’ll be voting no.
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