Labor and environmental activists make their case for reworking N.J. budget

 Advocates call for N.J. tax increases in the new budget to help meet the needs of the middle class. (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

Advocates call for N.J. tax increases in the new budget to help meet the needs of the middle class. (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

Advocates are urging New Jersey lawmakers to enact a budget that raises revenue to help meet the needs of the middle class.

A coalition of community organizations and labor groups is critical of Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed $34.5 billion budget proposal. They say it does not provide enough money for schools, infrastructure projects, and the environment.

Gordon MacInnes, president of the liberal think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective, says increasing the income tax on millionaires and the gas tax are among the ways the state could raise more money.

“I don’t believe that throwing out the idea of more revenues or a tax increase is treasonous,” MacInnes said. “I believe that it’s reasonable if it’s connected to the kind of investments that creates opportunities for families that are now struggling.”

Advocates also says $600 million of corporate tax breaks in the budget could be better used to ensure there are more middle class jobs.

Analilia Majia, executive director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, urged lawmakers to do more to help struggling families.

“There’s over $600 million that we are able to expend in wasteful and ineffective corporate tax breaks that don’t even include provisions to ensure that there are family sustaining jobs at the end of these developments,” she said.

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel says the governor’s budget plan is an attack on the environment.

“We have a budget that gives major tax cuts and subsidies for developers who don’t need it, only enriching their wallets. At the same time we have no money for the first time in decades for open space,” Tittel said.

While the Democrats who control the New Jersey legislature have sparred with Gov. Christie, leaders have said they only expect to make minor changes to his proposed budget.

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