The New Jersey State AFL-CIO supports the FY2023 state budget package for its commitment to help working families struggling with inflation and economic uncertainty, while making crucial investments in building infrastructure and continuing its commitment to fully funding pensions and the school funding formula.
The new ANCHOR property tax program will provide a historic $2 billion property tax relief to homeowners, as well as renters, who were excluded from previous iterations of property tax relief programs. Additionally, by making a second consecutive full pension payment of $6.82 billion, New Jersey signals its intention to pay its annual required contribution for public employees, and shows credit rating bureaus that our leaders are serious about righting our state’s financial future. This budget also commits $1.7 billion in American Rescue Plan aid for capital projects and $1.9 billion for school construction to strengthen our infrastructure. Colleges still reeling from the impact of the pandemic on student enrollment will also receive modest relief under the FY2023 state spending plan.
However, if budgets are to be understood as moral documents, reflective of the priorities of our State, then the lack of hazard pay for essential workers in the transportation and food industry and frontline healthcare professionals in our hospitals, nursing homes, developmental centers, and Veteran’s Homes is a cause for disappointment. These brave women and men kept New Jersey from collapsing during the pandemic’s darkest days, and continue to put themselves in harm’s way despite bearing elevated risks to their health and safety. By denying these workers the hazard pay and respect the “essential” designation should warrant, this budget lets down the very people whose dedication would save us from the next emergency, in whatever form it will come. Several states, such as Minnesota and Connecticut, as well as Puerto Rico took this step, and we will continue to urge our elected officials to provide hazard pay benefits to our essential workers in future legislation.
The budget’s approach to investing in University Hospital in Newark falls short of ensuring the hospital’s ability to continue an adequate level of care to its patients. We look forward to continuing the discussion on how to deliver the funding and upgrades that University Hospital desperately needs.
In spite of these flaws, the FY2023 budget earns our support for taking another step towards righting our state’s financial future, keeping its pension promises, providing historic property tax relief to taxpayers, and investing in building our infrastructure. The budget accomplishes all of this while simultaneously setting aside a healthy surplus to help working families in the event of an economic downturn.
We thank Governor Murphy, Senate President Scutari, Speaker Coughlin, Chairman Sarlo and Chairwoman Pintor Marin and the respective Budget Committee members of each house, as well as all the legislators who provided input and lent their support to this year’s state budget.