TRENTON – A bid to restore Energy Tax Receipts to municipalities will be before the two budget committees on Thursday.
The Senate and Assembly Budget committees will hear S1900 and A2921, respectively, that would try and restore approximately $331 million that local officials say the state has been unfairly diverting for years.
The bills would mandate that the restoration would take place over five years, with first-year funding of approximately $66 million.
The budget will contain no money to fund the restoration, but Democrats say if the governor signs the bill they will find the money. Gov. Chris Christie has dismissed local officials’ attempts to have the money restored, saying they are not entitled to it.
About a week ago, Senate Budget Committee Chair Paul Sarlo, a prime sponsor of S1900, had said the attempt to restore the funding would not occur, and could not be reached for comment this afternoon about the renewed attempt to restore the funding.
At the time, Sarlo said introducing the bill sent a bad message given its price tag and the state’s revenuie shortfall.
But local officials expressed optimism at the development, and were thankful the bills are now listed for hearings.
“The diversion of municipal property tax relief money to cover state spending needs to end,” said Janice Mironov, East Windsor mayor and first vice president of the N.J. League of Municipaities, in a release.
And league President and Mount Arlington Mayor Art Ondish said, “The restoration of Energy Tax Receipts Property Tax Relief/CMPTRA funding to local budgets is of paramount importance to municipal officials and to the taxpayers we serve.”
Although the state has been diverting the Energy Tax Receipts for state programs, the money is intended for local uses, league officials have long argued.