TRENTON – Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto’s anti-poverty initiatives passed in the Assembly on Monday, a big win for the Democratic assemblyman.
One of those bills, A40, is concerned with increasing New Jersey’s Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage workers to align with the federal level of 40 percent. When put to vote, the bill received 51 votes in the affirmative, 22 ‘no’ votes and 4 abstentions. Prieto co-sponsored the bill with Assemblyman Gary Schaer.
“The future looks bleak if we don’t do something,” Prieto said. “There is a cost attached to this so, as with everything we do, budgeting should be a priority. We talk about tax fairness. This is tax fairness for those who need it the most.”
Though the bill eventually passed, not all members of the assembly spoke in favor of it.
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick said that, though he “likes Prieto,” the bill is not clear enough about where the $240 million needed to fund it will come from.
“It is this type of spending that has gotten the state into the position it is in,” Bramnick said. “I stand here and say if we can identify the source… if we can identify the $240 million… then I could be in favor of this kind of assistance.”
Prieto sponsored A30 with Assemblywoman Elizabeth Muoio. That bill is concerned with increasing the minimum cash assistance benefit for families participating in the Work First New Jersey program. Like A40, it also passed in the assembly with 51 votes in the affirmative, 22 ‘no’ votes and 4 abstentions.
Another bill Prieto co-sponsored (this time with Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green) was A1000. That bill aims to improve housing for low-income individuals and households by adding $10.5 million to the State Rental Assistance Program. That will passed with 51 votes in the affirmative, 26 ‘no’ votes and no abstentions.
The three bills were part of the Prieto’s “Rebuilding the Middle Class” initiative.