Jersey Republicans say COVID relief funds should be given back to the people, not to be used for progressive pet projects

The Republican members of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee called for a windfall of State tax revenues to be returned to New Jersey taxpayers after the State Treasury revealed billions in unexpected revenues that isn’t needed to balance the budget or meet important priorities.

The following statement was released today by Senate Republican Budget Officer Steven Oroho (R-24), Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13), Senator Sam Thompson (R-12), and Senator Michael Testa (R-1):

“On Monday, Senate Republicans put out a comprehensive plan for the budget and for effectively utilizing the nearly $6.5 billion of new federal relief funds at New Jersey’s disposal.

“We identified important priorities that Governor Murphy had ignored in his proposal, including:

  • stopping a destructive payroll tax increase on employers that would otherwise take effect in July;
  • preventing school funding cuts to nearly 200 rural and suburban school districts proposed by Governor Murphy;
  • funding an overhaul of the State broken IT computer systems to help unemployed workers get their claims approved faster and to prevent long lines at the MVC;
  • continued funding for small business grants to aid in the recovery of our economy and the rehiring of workers, and
  • repaying more than $4 billion of debt to offset the completely unnecessary borrowing that Governor Murphy misled the Supreme Court to approve.

“We want to be clear that we could fund all of these important priorities and others identified by our caucus in the comprehensive plan we proposed without dipping into the new money identified by OLS and the Treasurer over the last day or two.

“Our plan balances the budget, meets all of those important needs, and effectively utilizes the new ARP funds, for which the Murphy administration still has no plan.

“So the question is, what should do we do with the billions of dollars of extra funds that New Jersey doesn’t need?

“We believe that money should be returned directly to taxpayers, which has proven to be the most effective way to support our economic recovery.

“We also believe we can expand property tax relief, possibly through expansions of the Homestead Benefit and Senior Freeze programs, maybe even through direct property tax credits.

“We should discuss expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to provide additional support to low-income, working families.

“We’re open to having conversations about the best way to return these funds back to taxpayers, and absolutely believe that’s the right thing to do for funds the State didn’t expect and doesn’t need.

“We also believe these discussions should happen in an open, transparent process that includes the public.

“We shouldn’t let the Democrats do what they do every year, which is drop a spending plan on us two minutes before they call a vote before anyone knows what’s in the bill.

“There are three weeks left until the next budget needs to be adopted. Let’s start having these important talks today.”

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