By Jamal Kingston
After two months in office so far, the newly inaugurated New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled his first budget proposal to the State Legislature on March 13.
The new governor, who was elected because of dissatisfaction with former Gov. Chris Christie’s economic and social policies unveiled a progressive wish-list that any progressive-leaning person would like in a government budget.
The budget totals up to $37.4 billion, which sounds like one of the highest budgets in total in Garden State history, to me.
Murphy wants to spend money on education investments, especially with public schools and free community college tuition. He also wants to increase funding for New Jersey Transit; the state’s deteriorating public transportation system that transports Garden State commuters to crucial city hubs like New Brunswick, Trenton, Newark, Philadelphia and New York City. Another wish of Murphy’s is to fund some of the state’s ailing state worker pensions programs.
However, Garden State residents may be wary of taxes; a word that most New Jersey citizens despise. Despite the state being a blue state, a Democratic state, essentially since 1992, New Jersey does not like taxes. It is one of the highest-taxed states in America. Murphy wants an increase in the millionaire’s tax. Murphy, a millionaire himself from his successful business career at Goldman Sachs, says that millionaires like him can pay more in-state income and corporate tax to pay their fair share of taxes like the rest of Jersey’s working and middle classes.
A 10.75 percent increase on those New Jersey citizens making more than one million dollars—and there are a lot of Jersey citizens who are wealthy—could potentially see those wealthy New Jersey citizens move to places like Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and even Delaware, which are all lower taxed states on income and corporations. Yes, the rich should pay a bit higher tax to have a fair share and so some programs can be funded well and used well, but an exodus of billionaires who create most of the jobs would be problematic for New Jersey’s business climate.
More jobs should be created in New Jersey and taxes should be balanced. We will find out whether Murphy’s first state budget will lead to job creation.
We will see and will cover more of this story as the state budget for 2019 heats up.