Gov. Murphy unveils $48.9 billion state budget, eyes property tax relief
Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled his 2023 state budget during an in-person speech at the New Jersey State House on Tuesday.
The $48.9 billion spending plan still must be approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature. But the speech gave the governor a chance to speak to a full State House for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The speech came one day after Murphy lifted the in-school mask requirement.
“The last time I stood here was 743 days ago. Seven days later we’d record our first confirmed case of COVID-19,” Murphy said. “The pandemic has been a dark time for our state.”
The governor says the budge “takes on the most stubborn affordability challenge that has faced our state for decades: property taxes.”
Murphy proposed a $900 million property tax relief plan to replace and expand on the Homestead Rebate. He also plans to “deliver direct property tax relief to nearly 1.8 million middle and working-class middle and senior households, whether they are homeowners or renters.”
The governor also unveiled promises to fund over 3,000 more units of affordable housing statewide, plans for more pre-K funding and $650 million more in public school aid.
“Today, together we have invested more in our public schools than at any other point in our state’s history,” Murphy said.
The budget also includes a one-year holiday for marriage licenses, state park entry and driver's license fees.
“We are changing our state for the better over the long term,” Murphy said. “We are changing New Jersey to work for every family.”
Legislative Republicans responded immediately after the speech.
“The big news is we're getting our driver's license for free. I didn't look at mine yet, I'm hoping to hell I get my $11 discount,” said state Assemblyman Hal Wirths.
“They want to keep more money, we want to give it back. We want to give more money back,” said state Sen. Steve Oroho.
The Republicans say that the Murphy administration was squandering higher-than-expected revenue that could be used to further lower taxes.
“It's atrocious, it's sad and it's really disappointing that this was a time to have fiscal reform,” said Wirths.
Murphy said his first term track record and second term plans will make New Jersey a state of opportunity.
“Social responsibility and fiscal responsibility are not mutually exclusive. It is clear proof that when you invest in people, invest in growing the middle class, and growing the economy and invest in our future, it all pays off,” the governor said.
Murphy’s mantra since he started running for office for his first time has been "stronger and fairer."
Now, after a closer-than-expected election win in November that saw the most Republicans elected to the Legislature in 30 years, Murphy’s own budget documents read "stronger, fairer, and more affordable."