New Jersey’s Legislature not sold on Gov’s $1.5 billion tax hike

New Jersey State Capitol building in Trenton. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

New Jersey State Capitol building in Trenton. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

The state Treasurer tried to convince them, but New Jersey lawmakers are reluctant to go along with the tax increases in Governor Phil Murphy’s state budget plan.

The proposed budget calls for about $1.5 billion in tax hikes including a surcharge on income over a million dollars and raising the sales tax back up to 7 percent.

Acting Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio said around $600 million of that would fund new spending.

“If we were to propose no new revenues, no new spending, and back out all legislative adds from June of 2017, we would still have a deficit in FY19.”

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Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo said lawmakers aren’t convinced about the need to raise taxes until they see how much income tax revenue comes in at the end of the filing season.

“Taxes are your last resort. Nobody wants to stand up here and say we’re raising taxes without knowing what our final revenue projections are going to be until the April 15 collections come in.”

Senator Declan O’Scanlon worries that Murphy’s initiatives will force the need for additional tax increases in the next few years.

“If we’re going to increase spending above what is already naturally occurring, we know what’s going to happen, you’re either have to cut money other places or increase taxes further each year to meet these commitments,” said O’Scanlon.

Muoio said the budget proposal is a first step and the Murphy administration will work with the Legislature to evaluate how to meet revenue needs and fund the initiatives.

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