Republicans are targeting the cuts proposed by Gov. Phil Murphy that will potentially increase property taxes across the state.
Before the first public hearing that was to be held at Ramapo College on March 14 was postponed due to an anticipated snow storm, State Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho pointed to millions of dollars in budget cuts to Open Space PILOT Aid he sees driving property tax increases in more than 100 small rural communities across New Jersey.
“Small rural communities that are home to state lands are given Open Space PILOT aid to offset the impact of those properties being taken off their tax rolls,” said Oroho (R-24).
State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) summed up his party’s position that the Murphy Administration “seeks to resume the theft of these funds in a year when the state is drowning in billions in tax overcollections and building a massive surplus tells you just how little they care about New Jersey taxpayers. It is truly astounding!”
Open Space Cuts
Republicans on the State Senate Budget and Appropriation Committee pointed to Murphy’s current state budget reducing Open Space PILOT Aid from its previous funding level of $9 million to just $6 million and FY 2024 continues the funding decrease. The cuts in municipal aid come as towns are already struggling with the fiscal impact of a 22.8% increase in the cost of health benefit premiums for local government employees.
“It may not seem like a lot of money, but it’s important tax relief to towns in the Highlands and Pinelands that have strict State-imposed limits on development that prevent economic growth that could help replace the lost funds. It’s another unnecessary swipe at rural towns that are already struggling to prevent property tax increases,” said Oroho.
Municipal Tax Increases Expected
“There’s no need for Governor Murphy to cut rural municipal tax relief by millions of dollars when he’s proposing a $10 billion surplus in his next budget,” said State Sen. Michael Testa (R-1). “When you combine this cut with inflationary cost increases, other municipal aid cuts the governor has proposed, and higher health benefit premiums for local government employees imposed by his administration, you’re sure to see big property tax increases across New Jersey.”
O’Scanlon (R-13) was “surprised” the governor’s budget proposal cuts the return of nearly $70 million of Energy Tax Receipts funds to municipalities in all parts of the state with such a large budget surplus.
“Towns are struggling with inflation and soaring health benefits costs imposed by his administration,” said O’Scanlon (R-13), the Senate Republican Budget Officer. “Governor Murphy should explain why he thinks it’s a good idea to cut property tax relief to towns and drive tax bills higher for homeowners. It’s shocking that the governor wants to eliminate the return of $70 million of Energy Tax Receipts to municipalities that he hailed as important property tax relief just last year.”
Energy Tax Receipts Return Cut
O’Scanlon said the reduction as detailed in the Governor’s FY 2024 Budget by 4.2% is a reversal of Murphy’s commitment to returning Energy Tax Receipts to municipalities.
“Republicans in the Legislature have been fighting for years to end what amounts to theft by the state from local governments and property taxpayers of Energy Tax Receipt funds,” said O’Scanlon. “We thought we made lasting gains last year, but here we are back at square one. It’s unconscionable.
The Monmouth County resident said the reduced municipal aid will be devastating for towns that already are struggling to account for a massive 22.8% increase in health benefits costs for local government employees that was imposed by the Murphy administration last fall.
Higher Healthcare Costs
“While the governor’s FY 2024 budget proposal includes $200 million to offset the higher health benefit costs, the proposed aid is a fraction of the total increase that’s hitting local governments and workers in the form of higher premiums this year,” he said.
Further, O’Scanlon noted that the money will not be provided until January of 2024 which is too late to help towns protect homeowners from huge property tax increases.
“With the higher benefit costs already hitting municipal budgets and no guaranteed state relief, we’re almost certain to see huge increases in property taxes statewide this year,” he said.
Pork Spending Continues
“It’s unconscionable that the Murphy administration is slashing aid to municipalities left and right and spiking their health care costs while the governor is sitting on an obscene $10 billion surplus built with taxpayer funds,” added State Sen. Doug Steinhardt (R-23). “I have no doubt that Governor Murphy’s bad budget plan will translate into significantly higher property tax bills for millions of New Jerseyans.”
O’Scanlon observed that the budget will once again be full of pork spending for a few favored towns, specifically citing the allocation of$12 million in the budget to help Jersey City build a French arts
“Just like in years past, we can be certain that a handful of towns with close ties to (Democratic) party bosses will get special pork grants added into the budget at the last minute to keep them from paying more,” O’Scanlon added. “It looks like Governor Murphy’s ‘Next New Jersey’ really isn’t so different from the old one.”
The word “theft” is absurd. Since when do Republicans whine about budget surpluses, other than that they almost never manage to achieve them? If adjustments need to be made maybe a little less hysteria might help achieve it.
With a $10 billion surplus I’d like to see property tax relief throughout the State. Rather than just criticize the Governor’s budget proposal I’d like to see the Republicans offer an alternative budget. Grandstanding for political points is not productive for anyone.
Now, we all know that Life ain’t Fare!! But the poor People have had ENOUGH!! And the Elected Official’s are too Narrow sited to SEE this & it’ll be their own undoings, cause Taxing has gotten Insane!! AND; It’s Time to Properly Tax Corporation’s with Enough so they Can’t & won’t pass them onto the Consumer’s.. A reasonable token starting off Tax would be 70%, then All Healthcare including Med’s & Colleges could be FREE to ALL!! Now, how niece is that!! Senator Steve Oroho, is telling it like it is & it’s Time for’n Corporation’s to Step-Up & Start Giving instead of always Taking..//