New Jersey lawmakers aim to use billions of surplus funds to help with property tax relief
New Jersey has billions of dollars of surplus in tax collections. Officials say that it is unexpected and call the windfall “unprecedented.” So what do they plan to do with the excess money?
“We ought to give these overcollections back to the taxpayers of New Jersey,” Republican state Sen. Mike Testa said during a state Senate budget hearing.
During that hearing officials suggested paying off state debt and giving property tax relief to New Jerseyans.
Democratic state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said that he insists on “the largest tax relief program in state history,” but did not give any specifics.
“ANCHOR means direct property tax relief this year of approximately $700,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
The governor has already proposed a property tax rebate overhaul known as ANCHOR, which includes both homeowners and renters.
“Up to $250 in direct relief to offset the rent increases caused by increased property taxes on their landlords,” Murphy said.
But Republican legislators said the ANCHOR isn't heavy enough and is, “Little more than putting lipstick on a pig,” according to Testa.
Republicans say they want more direct relief. Testa accused the Murphy administration of deliberately getting revenue estimates wrong. This brought on an angry reaction from Democratic state budget chairman Sen. Paul Sarlo.
“This is nothing compared to what I have sat through over the years. Let me go back to the DiFrancesco/McGreevey budget. Billions of dollars in a $30 billion - We sat here. Trying to figure out,” Sarlo said.
The Treasury Department says the governor is open to expanding who gets ANCHOR relief, and that they certainly have enough cash to work with. They have until June 30 to figure it all out.
Treasury officials estimate the state will have a surplus of just under $12 billion by the end of the 2023 fiscal year. The officials say their estimates are up $7.8 billion from what they estimated just two over months ago.