NJ Politics Digest: Murphy Learned One Budget Gimmick From Christie

Phil Murphy (left) and Chris Christie.

Phil Murphy (left) and Chris Christie. Governor

Gov. Phil Murphy isn’t shy about planning to raise taxes to help pay for his proposed $37.4 million budget. But even with the $1.5 billion in hikes, Murphy is raiding a clean-energy fund paid into by ratepayers to make up a $136 million shortfall in his spending plan.

According to a report in NJSpotlight, Murphy plans to use the money to help New Jersey Transit ($82 million) and cover energy bills ($47.5 million). Five million dollars is earmarked to get New Jersey back into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, while $2.7 million will go to the state Board of Public Utilities, according to the report.

While environmentalists expressed disappointment that Murphy, who says he backs a clean-energy agenda, is tapping the fund for other purposes, the amount he is taking is less than Christie used last year. Christie took a total of $1.5 billion from the fund during his eight years in office to plug budget gaps, according to the report.

The money comes from a surcharge on utility customers’ monthly bills. It is expected to raise about $700 million this year, with about half supposed to go to the clean energy fund and the remainder used to fund energy-assistance programs.

Murphy had criticized Christie’s use of the funds, and there was once talk of a constitutional amendment to prevent diversion of the money, the report noted.

Quote of the Day: “It is responsible, it is consistent completely with what we said. No one should be surprised. We said what we’re going to do, and we’re doing it.” — Gov. Phil Murphy, who last year said he would not consider raising the sales tax, defending his plan to impose several new taxes and raise the sales tax.

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NJ Politics Digest: Murphy Learned One Budget Gimmick From Christie