Tax hike a ‘last resort,’ N.J. lawmaker says

New Jersey's Senate Budget Committee holds the final public hearing on Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget Tuesday. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey's Senate Budget Committee holds the final public hearing on Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget Tuesday. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey lawmakers ended their public hearings on Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget Tuesday . Now, they hope they can work out an agreement to have a budget enacted by the June 30 deadline.

The Senate Budget Committee chairman said he does not anticipate a stalemate in budget talks that will lead to a state government shutdown.

“Well I don’t think we’re that far off. I mean we’re making progress,” said Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen. “Discussions are continuing and ongoing. I am confident that we’re not going to get to a situation that we had last year.”

The governor’s budget plan calls for a tax surcharge on millionaires; restoring the sales tax back to 7 percent; and some other taxes. The added revenue would cover increased funding for schools, New Jersey Transit, the public employee pension system, and phasing in free community college.

Sarlo said lawmakers will exhaust all options for cost efficiencies and cuts before resorting to raising taxes.

 “Discussions are ongoing with the Senate President and others, and we’re going to continue to have these conversations,” he said. “And I think, at the end of the day, we’re going to have a balanced budget for New Jersey.

“And if it does have to include a tax, it will be the last resort,” said Sarlo.

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