State lawmakers advance state budget; could become law as early as Thursday

With less than 48 hours to go before a planned vote on a nearly $46 billion state budget, Assembly and Senate committees quickly advanced the spending plan Tuesday afternoon.

News 12 Staff

Jun 22, 2021, 11:08 PM

Updated 1,028 days ago

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With less than 48 hours to go before a planned vote on a nearly $46 billion state budget, Assembly and Senate committees quickly advanced the spending plan Tuesday afternoon.
The state budget details were agreed to as part of a deal between Gov. Phil Murphy and top legislative Democrats. The budget includes more money for tuition at four-year colleges, hundreds of millions of dollars for property tax relief and the homestead rebate, and $4 billion in a lockbox for paying off state debt.
But the budget does not include additional money to replenish the state’s beleaguered unemployment fund or a new, stable source of revenue for New Jersey Transit.
As the governor signed a bill in Long Branch Tuesday morning granting over $230 million in relief to small businesses, copies of bills, charts and spreadsheets were flying around the State House, in some cases reaching members of the Assembly and Senate minutes before they were expected to vote.
Murphy’s office says that they can take some of the $4 billion in stimulus money that has been set aside to replenish the Unemployment Trust Fund. But as of now, there is no money in the budget for unemployment except for a $10 million technological upgrade at the Department of Labor.
“The budget is sort of unfolding as we speak. So bear with me on that one,” Murphy said.
Employees and business owners pay into the unemployment fund through payroll taxes. Those taxes are already going up because the pandemic left so many unemployed. They could go up again next year.
Business owner Rena Levy uses a federal aid program to get back some of her payroll tax costs. Two of her four restaurants have received loans from the state Economic Development Authority, but she says that she is still waiting on word from a federal loan from the Small Business Administration.
“I’m praying every day I open my email hoping that we’re going to get one,” Levy says.
Murphy signed a bill in January reducing employers' payroll taxes through the middle of next year.
The budget could become law as early as Thursday.


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