New Jersey taxpayers won't find relief in Phil Murphy's budget | Opinion

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Gov. Phil Murphy and Democrats in the state legislature are lauding themselves for providing relief and improving New Jersey’s economy with their recently passed state budget. Neither of those things are true. Let me explain.

If you are expecting tax relief soon, there isn’t any.

Checks labeled for property tax relief won’t be sent until May 2023. The only reason some of you might get one — it’s meant only for a select few — is that you paid more in taxes than ever before. That’s right. To fuel the Democrats’ massive $50.6 billion spending plan this year residents are taxed more than ever.

Real tax relief should be immediate and permanent, the result of cutting income tax rates and other taxes, or actually lowering property taxes instead of taking money from one pocket and putting less back in the other. That’s what their ANCHOR rebate program really does. It takes too much of your money then gives you back less than you paid. Murphy calls that tax relief. It isn’t.

Another of their efforts epitomizes everything wrong with their sloppy government approach, with a "ready, fire, then take aim" style that inevitably require so-called “fix-it” bills. A new child tax credit was passed to provide families earning under $80,000 some more money for each child under six years old. The problem is it won’t provide a tax credit until 2024, so we already need another “fix-it” bill.

Republicans offered an amendment to increase and expand it to help more people, providing more money for all their children instead of only kids under age six. That amendment also would have taken effect immediately. Democrats rejected it.

The New Jersey Assembly voted to approve a $50.6 billion budget, the largest in the state's history in Trenton, NJ on June 29, 2022.
The New Jersey Assembly voted to approve a $50.6 billion budget, the largest in the state's history in Trenton, NJ on June 29, 2022.

The next day Murphy promised to fix the mistake. He was warned, and so were the Democrats before the bill passed. It could have been fixed right there, but warnings fell on their deaf ears as usual. Helping people more isn’t acceptable to Trenton Democrats if it is proposed by Republicans.

That is true for the economy, too.

Murphy, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Nick Scutari recently spoke about how positive this budget will be for the economy, and how New Jersey’s economic growth is outpacing the nation. They made those claims on the same day that the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis released the first quarter GDP for states this year.

The results: New Jersey’s economy shrunk by 2.2%, while the overall U.S. economy contracted 1.6%.

In fact, New Jersey is faring worse than every other state on the East Coast. If it were not for West Virginia and Kentucky, New Jersey would have the worst economy in all the eastern United States. All of the high taxes are creating as bad an economic environment as the heart of Appalachia, despite having the best location in the country for a vibrant economy.

There is a very simple way to turn that around, and quickly make New Jersey’s economy one of the best, if not the best, in the nation. It was proven in the past decade. We need to cut our business tax rates, and I sponsor the bill to do it.

That is what North Carolina did in 2013, while New Jersey expanded its business tax credit program — another government program that didn’t solve the high-tax problem that plagues the state and everybody who lives and works here.

After North Carolina reformed its tax code to lower business taxes and income taxes, it led the nation in economic growth for the next three years.  It went from one of the worst states to have a business — not far ahead of New Jersey — to one of the best. Instead of government taking too much money and giving some back, it let people and businesses keep more of what they earn.

In contrast, by expanding big government bureaucracy, New Jersey became the worst place to own a business in the nation, with one of the worst economies too. It hasn’t given up the title since.

When Murphy took office in 2018 and raised taxes with Democrats, it led to the worst job growth since 2011 while national job creation far exceeded expectations after federal tax cuts.

That is the effect taxes have on an economy. Historically, it has meant higher revenues too. And if it doesn’t, businesses and people still deserve and have a greater need for their hard-earned money than the government does.

Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips represents parts of Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic counties in the 40th Legislative District. He has been a member of the New Jersey General Assembly since 2018.

This article originally appeared on Phil Murphy's budget offers little relief for NJ taxpayers