Statement by Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA, CEO and Executive Director
This afternoon, Governor Phil Murphy delivered his budget proposal for New Jersey’s 2022 fiscal year which will begin July 1. We applaud the Governor for proposing a budget that includes no tax increases or new fees.
After a nine-month budget filled with borrowing and revenue raisers, this budget presents an opportunity to make responsible decisions. With a sizable budget surplus, many tax sources outperforming projections and potentially more than $6 billion in federal stimulus support soon on its way, it’s crucial that the state make smart decisions and be strategic about how the budget dollars are deployed. And we urge the Governor to also pursue spending reforms that could produce long-term savings.
Now is the time to address our long-term structural debts by making the tough choices that lawmakers have avoided for so long. We commend Governor Murphy for including a full payment to the public worker pension fund — the first time a full payment has been made since 1996. At the same time, though, we urge that real reforms be made to public worker pension and benefits plans so that we don’t have to continue to dedicate such a large chunk of the budget to pay for these benefits. We continue to endorse Senate President Sweeney’s “Path to Progress” package of bills that would, among other things, shift from the current defined benefit pension system to a sustainable hybrid system and change benefits for new public workers, which could save the state hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Additionally, the NJCPA supports committing more state resources to support small businesses, which have faced some of the biggest hardships during the pandemic. A bipartisan bill was introduced earlier this month that would allocate $300 million from the budget’s General Fund for grants and loans to small businesses and nonprofit organizations. The bill would provide aid not only to small businesses and nonprofits that lost revenue during the economic shutdowns and slowdowns caused by the coronavirus crisis, but also to those whose business opening plans were disrupted by COVID-19 and those who fill vacant storefronts or under-utilized space with new operations. The $300 million plan is essential to assist struggling small businesses and nonprofits whose recovery is critical to New Jersey’s economic growth.
NJCPA members serve tens of thousands of businesses and individuals. They are on the front lines of the state’s economy, in the trenches with the people who make the thousands of decisions every day, big and small, that shape New Jersey’s economic climate. Our members are, by and large, practical and realistic. They know that the state can’t tax its way off this fiscal cliff and that real spending reforms are needed.
There’s much at stake. The NJCPA stands ready to be a resource to the Governor and the Legislature.