Senate Moves Budget Bills Forward

TRENTON – The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved several key budget bills today, showing their commitment to passing a budget before the June 30th deadline.

“With only ten days to go until the budget is due, it is important that we keep moving forward in the process so that this budget passes on time,” said Senator Wayne Bryant, D-Camden and Chair of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. “Today we started assembling the pieces of a fiscally responsible budget that benefits the people of New Jersey not just this year, but puts the State in a better financial position for years to come.”

The Committee approved $400 million from the Property Tax Relief Fund to go toward homestead rebates for homeowners and tenants. The appropriation, S-2646, passed the Committee with bipartisan support.

“With the additional revenues forecasted last month, we realize it is essential that we restore part of the property tax rebates that were cut in the Governor’s initial budget proposal. $400 million allows us to give considerable rebates to New Jersey’s seniors, disabled individuals and working families, while reserving enough money so that we can maintain the rebates in future years,” added Senator Bryant.

By a party-line vote, the committee approved bill S-2628, which would modernize the sales and use tax by encompassing product categories that have come into being with new technologies and addressing inequities in the application of the current law. The measure would create the product category of “digital good,” which would include purchasing access to or the use of digital data or information delivered electronically.

“Many recent developments in telecommunications and e-commerce have caused the sales tax law to fall behind the times,” said Senator Kenny, D-Hudson. “Just a few years ago, hardly anyone was buying digital music and movie files over the Internet. Now downloads comprise an increasingly large portion of the retail entertainment industry. To tax the physical versions of movies and music while ignoring digital files is unfair to retailers in New Jersey, and this bill addresses that inequity.”

Additionally, the bill would eliminate the exemption given to carpet and drapery cleaning, landscaping services purchased 12 months after the issuance of a certificate of occupancy and flooring installed after the certificate of occupancy. It would also extend the sales tax to storage space rentals, private investigators, messenger services, tanning services, tattoo parlors and health and sports clubs. The sales tax modernization is expected to bring in an additional $175 million in revenues for Fiscal Year 2006.

The Committee also passed bills S-2637, which would eliminate the pension income tax exclusion for seniors making more than $100,000 and the property tax deduction for those making more than $200,000, and S-2638, which decouples the state corporate business tax from recently passed federal deductions involving certain qualified production activities income. S-2637 passed by a vote of 9-6 and S-2638 passed by a vote of 8-6.

S-2628 awaits passage by the Assembly before it will go before the full Senate. S-2637, S-2638, and S-2646 all now move onto the full Senate for approval.