NJ Politics Digest: Finally, Some Good Financial News for the State

New Jersey State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio in 2017.

New Jersey State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. Joan Eddis-Koch/Flickr

It’s a good news and bad news kind of situation for New Jersey taxpayers. The good news is that state revenues are coming in nearly $500 million ahead of expectations. The bad news is that the chances remain slim that the state will provide any programs to reduce what residents pay because Gov. Phil Murphy is using the carrot of property tax relief in an effort to gain support for a plan to increase taxes on millionaires.

Legislative leaders, including members of Murphy’s party, have said they have no interest in raising the millionaires’ tax, claiming that it will only drive high earners out of the state.

Still, there’s more good news in the NJ.com report. The state plans to put any excess money raised into a rainy day fund to provide a cushion if the economy suffers a downturn.

It’s likely that Murphy will also use some of the funds to help pay for his plans to increase pre-K programs and provide free community college tuition to low-income residents if he doesn’t gain his millionaires’ tax—progressive and education union priorities that might have faced pushback in a state where residents already shoulder one of the highest property tax burdens in the nation. It’s unclear if Murphy or state leaders will attempt to use any of the surplus to help further address the looming crisis in state public workers’ pension funds.

The $484 million windfall is funded in large part by an increase of $420.8 million in revenue from the state income tax, according to the NJ.com report. The NJ.com report doesn’t mention any discussions of reducing the tax that is outperforming estimations.

Quote of the Day: “We are very concerned about the substantial power differential between faculty and students, and it’s not clear to us allegedly consensual relationships are consensual,” — Barbara A. Lee, senior vice president for Academic Affairs at Rutgers University, on a move to limit bar faculty from dating undergraduate students.

Can We Avoid Another Gas Tax Hike This Year? NJ Treasurer Just Said She’s ‘Cautiously Optimistic.’
New Jersey Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio said Tuesday she’s “cautiously optimistic” the state will avoid another increase in the per-gallon tax on gasoline this fall.
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NJ Could See $533M Surprise Boost in Tax Revenues
New Jersey’s budget analysts are projecting the state will get a surprise tax haul of about $484 million more than they expected this year, according to data from the nonpartisan state Office of Legislative Services obtained by NJ Advance Media.
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Hopes for NJ Legal Weed May Be Going Up in Smoke. But Expanding Medical Marijuana Now Has Bipartisan Support.
With hopes of a legislative vote to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey pretty much up in smoke, some lawmakers now say it’s time to expand the Garden State’s medical marijuana program.
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New Lottery Agreement With Private Operator Northstar Expected to Save NJ Up to $100M
The Murphy administration has renegotiated a contract with the private operator of the New Jersey Lottery that is expected to save taxpayers up to $100 million over the next decade.
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Will Three County Jails in NJ Keep Referring Immigrants to ICE for Deportation?
Nearly two months have passed since a directive went into effect in New Jersey that limits local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
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Shore House Tax May Be Rolled Back, but Maybe After Summer
Lawmakers took a first step Monday toward removing sales and occupancy taxes from short-term home rentals directly booked by homeowners, although it appears unlikely the change will be in place for Shore houses this summer.
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Rutgers Will Bar Professors From Dating Students as Part of Sweeping Overhaul of Sexual Harassment Policy
Fueled by #MeToo movement, Rutgers University is moving ahead with a sweeping policy shift that would bar consensual relationships between professors and all undergraduate students, a top university official announced Tuesday.
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Jersey City, Poster Child for What’s Wrong With School Funding Reform?
With New Jersey making changes to how it funds its public schools, no district is getting hit harder than Jersey City. And for all the talk of winners and losers, maybe no district better reflects how complex—and emotional—the debate has become.
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At Last Minute, Plan Introduced to Prevent Most Jersey City School Layoffs
Jersey City’s school board adopted its $638 million budget for 2019-20 late Monday, with a promise from Board of Education Sudhan Thomas that the district will not fire hundreds of teachers who received layoff warnings.
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Booker Wants to Stop Gun Sales to People Who May Be Suicidal
Cory Booker is taking another step toward making gun control his signature issue in the presidential race.
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Pallone Aims for Complete Ban on Asbestos, Blocking New EPA Rule
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone yesterday vowed to press ahead with a bill that would fully ban asbestos use, a step aimed at thwarting a proposed federal Environmental Protection Agency rule that would allow manufacturers to use the substance under certain limited circumstances.
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Newark Is Seeing Surge of Brazilian Asylum Seekers
For four months now, Adriana has been sharing a room with her husband and two children in a one-bedroom apartment in Newark. It’s the first apartment they’ve ever lived in—much different from their rural home in Brazil’s southeastern Minas Gerais state, where she cooked meals in a wood-burning stove.
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Judge Freezes Coronato Campaign Account Until Hearing
A Superior Court judge today froze the campaign accounts of Toms River GOP mayoral candidate Joseph Coronato until a final ruling is made on whether councilman Mo Hill is entitled to his share of a joint campaign account that bears his name.
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NJ Politics Digest: Finally, Some Good Financial News for the State