N.J. lawmakers wary of $1.6 billion tax boost in Murphy budget plan

The New Jersey Assembly Budget Committee holds the first of several legislative hearings on Gov. Phil Murphy's budget plan Wednesday. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

The New Jersey Assembly Budget Committee holds the first of several legislative hearings on Gov. Phil Murphy's budget plan Wednesday. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Hearings on Governor Phil Murphy’s New Jersey budget plan are underway — and the massive tax increase he has recommended has raised concerns.

Even some of his fellow Democrats have reservations about the $1.6 billion in tax increases he has called for to fund spending increases.

Lawmakers will examine the potential impact of the tax increases, said Assembly Budget Committee chairwoman Eliana Pintor-Marin, D-Essex.

“They all are concerning,” she said. “We’re going to take a careful look at exactly what those are and how much money they do produce and what type of families we’re raising those taxes on.”

Assemblyman John DiMaio, R-Warren, contended lawmakers should be looking for ways to streamline government rather than raising taxes.

“Even three-eighths of a percent on the sales tax affects the poorest and the middle class among us,” he said. “And we really need to be looking — not to make it more expensive — but to make New Jersey more competitive in the marketplace with other states so businesses want to locate here.”

Some lawmakers have called the budget’s proposed school funding distribution unacceptable.

The budget does not provide nearly enough funding for some school districts with increasing student enrollments, said Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth.

“The school funding recommendations set forth in 2018-2019 for the New Jersey state budget by the administration cannot and should not be the final word,” he urged.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, said he’s confident lawmakers and the governor will work out their differences and have a budget enacted by the constitutionally required June 30 deadline.

“The budget document is a document of estimates, so it’s always full of negotiations, and I think we can get the work done,” he said. “And I think the mood between the legislative branch and the governor’s office is one that this budget should be delivered on time.”

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