PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey lawmakers are trying to find a way to come up with billions of dollars in lost revenue in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown.
For some residents, that could mean higher taxes, CBS2’s Nick Caloway reported.
New Jersey’s economy has cratered since March, and now the state is $5.7 billion in the hole.
“Besides setting off an unprecedented public health crisis, this pandemic also unleashed an economic crisis that can be only rivaled by two other times in our state’s entire 244-year history — The Great Depression and the Civil War,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday.
WATCH: Gov. Phil Murphy Gives Annual Budget Address
That grim reality sets the stage for a drastically revised state budget proposal from the governor. At least 1.4 million people have filed for unemployment in New Jersey since March and the state now faces a massive shortfall.
The governor’s proposal calls for more than $1 billion in spending cuts, although funding for schools will not be directly cut.
In addition, taxes are also part of the plan to increase revenue. Murphy is calling for higher taxes for millionaires, corporations, boat sales, and limousine rides.
“Building a stronger New Jersey requires us to ask those who, in some cases, continued to prosper as this pandemic raged around us and most certainly were hurt less, to do more so we can strengthen the middle class families who are the backbone of our state,” Murphy said.
Web Extra: Read Gov. Murphy’s Full Remarks
The new budget adds money to help schools and universities reopen, to support long-term care facilities and protect affordable housing.
Ultimately, the state Legislature has to approve the budget. Republican lawmakers were quick to say the plan doesn’t cut enough.
“I agree that this has been a pandemic, and it has really hurt our revenues. I understand that. But his reaction to that is not cut, it’s not structural changes; it’s spend more, borrow more, and tax more,” Assemblyman Jon Bramnick said of Murphy’s proposals.
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The governor also plans to borrow $4 billion to help fill the budget hole and create a $2 billion surplus, which also drew criticism from Republicans.
“The biggest gimmick of all is borrowing $4 billion, then putting $2 billion in surplus, then announcing ‘Today New Jersey has a $2 billion surplus.’ We’re just taking one credit card and paying off another credit card,” Assemblyman Hal Wirths said.
Murphy said that $2 billion surplus would be a much-needed cushion, in case there’s a second wave of the pandemic.
The Legislature has just over a month to come to an agreement on the budget.
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