In his annual budget address on Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he supported bipartisan legislation that would ban the state government from doing business with Russia and Belarus.
It comes more than a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, and as many around the world condemned Putin as a war criminal.
The measure is headed to Murphy’s desk after the Assembly passed it earlier in the day.
“Our administration is assessing what financial or business exposure we may have to the Russian government or Russian-owned business interests or securities, including in our pension funds,” Murphy said.
“Let me make it perfectly clear, we will take whatever actions are needed to ensure New Jersey taxpayer dollars are not supporting Putin’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine,” he added.
Murphy made his remarks in the General Assembly Chambers just after 2 p.m. It was the first budget address held in-person since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Touting a growing economy, he also doubled down on his promise to make the state more affordable, reiterating that his budget proposal includes no new taxes, and announcing the “Affordable New Jersey Communities For Homeowners and Renters” program, or ANCHOR.
Murphy said ANCHOR would “deliver direct property tax relief to nearly 1.8 million middle and working-class and senior households,” and he said it would save New Jerseyans $900 million this year.
“We have always understood that opportunity and affordability are linked. Lowering costs and cutting taxes — the taxes that hit the middle class the hardest — is but one part of the equation,” Murphy said.
However, many Republican legislative leaders are not sold on Murphy’s tax relief proposal — calling it “too little, too late.”
“The governor mentioned property taxes 26 times in his speech, but is really doing nothing to fix the root problems that cause the issue of property taxes,” said Senate minority leader Sen. Steven Oroho (R-24),
Speaking at a joint press conference following the governor’s remarks, Senate and Assembly Republicans touted their plan for tax relief, which they said would put more money back into the pockets of New Jersey taxpayers than Murphy’s proposal.
They said the state brought in $4.6 billion over projected revenue this year, and should give it back to taxpayers, expeditiously.
“People are hurting right now. Small businesses are hurting right now,” said Senate minority budget officer Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-13).
“[ANCHOR] is an ironic name for this program. Because the five previous property tax recovery programs were anchor programs themselves — anchors around the necks of property taxpayers, because they never lived up to the hype. And they ultimately were transferred out to other things,” O’Scanlon said.
Republican-led legislation introduced on Monday would create a $1,000 tax credit for taxpayers who make less than $500,000.
The New Jersey Policy Perspective said Murphy’s budget proposal also makes “critical investments in education and support for working families.”
“Affordability doesn’t come from reducing public investments that help people get ahead, but by funding the building blocks of strong communities,” said Jon Shure, interim President of the New Jersey Policy Perspective.
Murphy also proposed investing $300 million to create an affordable housing production fund, which he said would allow the state to build nearly 3,000 affordable housing projects that have already been approved.
The proposed budget would go in effect for Fiscal Year 2023.