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Scutari, Ruiz, Sarlo Statement on State Budget

Trenton – Senate President Nick Scutari, Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz, and Senator Paul Sarlo, the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following joint statement on the Senate’s approval of the state budget for Fiscal Year 2025:

“We are putting in place a fiscally responsible state budget that addresses the needs and priorities of the people of New Jersey. It meets the state’s obligations and supports the initiatives that will move the state forward and improve the quality of life for all New Jerseyans.

“This budget is the product of months of deliberation, public hearings, and collaborative work with the Governor and our legislative colleagues. We gained the input of advocacy groups, public service organizations, businesses, government agencies, members of the public, and others. Their participation was instrumental in shaping a fiscal plan that includes the best ideas of every organization and individual involved.

“The funding plan utilizes state resources efficiently, makes strategic investments to expand economic opportunities, and helps to make the lives of our residents more affordable.

“It includes a substantial surplus of more than $6 billion, a debt defeasance fund to reduce state debt, a full pension payment to stabilize state finances, a record amount of direct property tax relief for homeowners and renters, a fully-funded school aid formula for the first time in state history and a landmark plan to provide reliable funding for NJ Transit. The Corporate Transit Fee will give the transit system the resources it needs as the lifeblood of the state’s economy.

“We are also providing additional support for higher education and mental health services. The increase of $20 million for community colleges and $70 million for our four-year schools will make higher education more affordable and offer students the skills and knowledge to excel in a rapidly evolving economy.

“This budget makes a historic $52 million investment to address the youth mental health crisis, including $22 million for the Children’s System of Care. This investment will have a profound impact on the lives of our children and families, ensuring they receive the support and care they need for their health and well-being.

“As New Jersey moves forward, this budget reflects a shared vision for a prosperous and sustainable future. It ensures essential services and investments that benefit every resident, making our state a better place to live, work, and thrive.”

 

Budget initiatives advanced by Senate Democrats include:

NJ Transit – A landmark plan to provide reliable funding for NJ Transit from a “Corporate Transit Fee” that has the largest, most profitable corporations contributing a surcharge on net income above $10 million. This will provide the state’s transit system with the resources to improve the transportation services that are so important to the economy and our quality of life. It will provide up to $800 million annually to prevent a potentially catastrophic fiscal cliff, support operating expenses, and generate federal matching funds for capital projects. A portion of the CTF will be used for the preservation of open space, farmland and historic properties.

Higher Education – Added to the budget was $90 million for public colleges and universities in New Jersey. This will make the cost of higher education more affordable for students and make a college degree more attainable. The increase of $20 million for community colleges will help students gain the skills and training needed to join the workforce and contribute to the state’s economy. The additional $70 million for four-year schools will allow what are some of the best colleges in the country to continue to provide a quality education. The additional state aid will pay dividends with a skilled workforce that generates economic growth and advances a knowledge-based economy.

Mental Health – The addition of $52 million will make a critical step in addressing the mental health crisis afflicting our youth. It includes $22 million for the Children’s System of Care which focuses on establishing and maintaining a robust network of providers through Medicaid-based contracts, ensuring that children and adolescents receive the essential care they need. The new funding also includes a $30 million investment in mental health services. This will support residential treatment, outpatient care, partial hospitalization, intensive in-home behavioral assistance, mobile response, and care management. This comprehensive approach aims to create a resilient support system, tackling mental health issues head-on and providing a lifeline to those suffering in silence, ultimately fostering a healthier and more supportive environment for our children to thrive.

Social Services – Acting to help those in need, we increased funding for a variety of social services, including legal services, programs to combat domestic violence, and to help survivors of sexual assault.

Strategic Investments – We added incentives to grow businesses, develop advanced technology, and create the jobs of the future. We want to keep New Jersey at the forefront of a rapidly evolving economy of new ideas and new technologies. We are also making additional infrastructure investments in new schools, healthcare facilities, parks, and for homeland security. These investments provide a boost to the economy and serve the state’s long-term needs.

 

The Senate vote was 27-13.