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Sarlo Statement on ‘Opening Day’ of State Budget Hearings

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TRENTON – Senator Paul Sarlo, the chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement today after the committee heard from the Office of Legislative Services and the State Treasurer on the fiscal and economic conditions that will shape the state’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget plan:

“This is a pivotal time for public finances in New Jersey, which makes our work on the state budget as important as ever. We face both immediate and long-term fiscal challenges that can no longer be ignored or deferred.

“There are structural financial problems that, left unaddressed, threaten to choke-off our ability to support vital services and invest in future opportunities. We can make real and lasting progress on these challenges in the upcoming budget by making cost-cutting reforms that will produce substantial savings and efficiencies.

“Current economic conditions present us with a high degree of uncertainty for state revenues, especially for the volatile and unpredictable income tax. The shortfall of income tax revenue, coupled with a reliance on a surge in April, present us with unknown economic factors that can’t be ignored. We don’t want a hoped-for ‘April surprise’ to become a springtime disappointment.

“I am also concerned that we are not prepared for a recession or even a substantial economic slowdown. A sizeable surplus will help, but the millionaires’ tax could make economic and fiscal conditions worse. An added surcharge on high income earners going into an economic slowdown is unreliable and likely counterproductive.

“The Governor has given us a budget plan that we can work with and I welcome his willingness to work cooperatively with the Legislature, including additional cost saving measures. It is now the Legislature’s responsibility to give the proposal a thorough review and put in place a fiscally responsible budget for the upcoming year.”