New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed the $46.4 billion fiscal 2022 budget, more or less a formality for a spending plan the Democratic-controlled state Legislature sent to his desk.
Saying it fixes “many longstanding problems in New Jersey,” Murphy and Democratic lawmakers took a victory lap during a signing ceremony at Ross Street School #11 in Woodbridge.
The budget sets aside $3.7 billion for a debt defeasance fund, including $2.5 billion to retire state debt, and it allocates $6.9 billion to the state pension plan. Under the spending plan, the state will also send up to $500 tax rebates to 760,000 New Jerseyans and expand other tax credits, including the Child and Dependent Care Credit (CDCC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
“This is a budget that invests in our middle-class and working families – supporting both those building their families and careers and those who are living out their richly-deserved retirements,” Murphy said in a news release. “It also puts a world-class education within reach for all while tackling our age-old property tax problem – ensuring a stronger, fairer, and healthier future for the generation born and reared in the shadow of an unprecedented pandemic.”
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans called on Murphy to explain projects they said appeared to be unnecessary pork spending. The lawmakers provided a list of more than 60 projects totaling roughly $128.6 million, ranging from $5 million for the “Newark Symphony Hall Infrastructure Project” to $1.5 million for the “Trenton Front Street Garage” to $100,000 for “Volunteer Fire Department Station Renovations and Decontamination Equipment” in Metuchen.
“The public has a right to know how their money is being spent,” the lawmakers said in a letter to the governor. “Alternatively, if their governor approves hundreds of millions of dollars of what appears to be pork without knowing what it is and without a basis for why it is worthy of their tax dollars, they have a right to know that too.”
Sens. Steven Oroho, R-Sussex; Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth; Michael Testa, R-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic; and Samuel Thompson, R-Old Bridge, signed the letter.
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