Murphy vows to make New Jersey more affordable; business group says tax relief is necessary

(The Center Square) – Gov. Phil Murphy used his State of the State address to promise not to raise taxes and to create a “stronger New Jersey where we create opportunity and increase affordability,” but a leading business group says he must provide broad tax relief.

“A fairer New Jersey where we work for tax fairness, and economic and social justice because you want a fair shot at a more prosperous future and at your American Dream,” Murphy said during a pre-recorded State of the State on Tuesday. “And a New Jersey where we continue down the path of recovery from the pandemic together. This is what you expect. Moreover, this is what you deserve.”

While the “state remains on a war footing against” COVID-19, the “state of our state is resilient and ready to keep moving forward,” Murphy said.

“We will continue to focus on a broad-based economic recovery that works for everyone, not just a lucky few,” Murphy said of the forthcoming fiscal 2023 budget. “We will continue to focus on making New Jersey more affordable for everyone.

“…I do not begrudge, for one second, anyone their success. I do not begrudge anyone the realization of their American Dream,” the governor added. “However, the price for having an unlimited upside cannot be an unlimited downside. New Jersey will never move forward if we cling to the outdated and selfish notion of, ‘I got mine and the rest be damned.’”

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said the state Assembly shared Murphy’s vision to “build on the progress we’ve made moving New Jersey forward these past four years.”

“Recommitting ourselves to lifting up our working middle-class families, making New Jersey more affordable, and ensuring access to opportunity, we stand ready to advance an agenda that puts emphasis on the daily challenges people in our state are facing,” Coughlin said in a statement.

Republican lawmakers and business leaders were less optimistic. In a statement, New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) President and CEO Michele Siekerka said the state has a “unique opportunity … to provide tax relief across the board.”

“As Governor Murphy embarks on his second term, we continue to call for the need of a proactive and comprehensive plan to help New Jersey businesses and the economy, rather than the reactive approach and continuation of the policies that harm our business community,” Siekerka said.

“We acknowledge and appreciate some of the plans that have been put forth by the governor over the past year to assist New Jersey businesses, as well as his reluctance to return to the previously imposed restrictions on business amid rising COVID test results,” Siekerka added. “These have been important steps. However, New Jersey businesses are still looking at nearly a $1 billion payroll tax increase, which started in late 2021 and will continue over the next two years, to replenish the state’s unemployment trust fund.”

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