NJ Politics Digest: Suggestions for Digging State Out of Its Fiscal Hole

New tolls, less-generous benefits for public employees and fewer small towns are some of the cost-saving measures being looked at by a group formed by Steve Sweeney.

Senate President Steve Sweeney. File photo.

New tolls, less-generous benefits for public employees and fewer small towns are some of the cost-saving measures being looked at by a group formed by Senate President Steve Sweeney to offer suggestions for dealing with the state’s heavy tax load.

The group’s suggestions were included in a draft document by the The Economic and Fiscal Policy Working Group that was obtained by NJ.com, according to a report on the site.

Sweeney’s staff, however, said not all suggestions included in the four-page document are likely to make it into the final report.

Sweeney formed the panel in February. At the time the senate president said the panel would evalute the impact of the new federal tax law on state economy and examine the state’s tax system and its spending.

The recommendations detailed in the NJ.com report include cost saving measures, such as moving public workers to a 401K-style system of retirement plans, raising the retirement age for some state employees to 67 and caps on pensionable salaries, the report said.

Another cost-saving suggestion is requiring municipalities with fewer than 5,000 residents to merge with another town, a plan that could impact about a third of the state’s municipalities.

The report also calls for generating new revenue, including putting new tolls on roads near the state’s borders and building, and tolling, high-occupancy vehicle lanes on the New Jersey Turnpike and other roads. Money from the tolls would go toward the state pension system, according to the NJ.com report.

Quote of the Day: “So it’s not a spending problem. We’ve got a priorities problem.” — Gov. Phil Murphy, pushing for more than $1.5 billion in new taxes to support his proposed budget.

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NJ Politics Digest: Suggestions for Digging State Out of Its Fiscal Hole