Volume 13 Issue 8 - Friday, May 20, 2022

NJ Forecasts Increased Budget Revenue, Legislative Leaders Offer Budget Priorities, New Jersey Equitable Energy Coalition Formed & more.  

NJ Forecasts Increased Budget Revenue

Earlier this week, the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS) and the Department of Treasury both announced that they are forecasting billions of dollars more in revenue than previously expected, largely due to an increase in income tax filings. Treasury’s combined two-year forecasts are $7.8 billion higher than its initial forecasts in March and OLS increased its revenue forecast by $3.6 billion over the same two years. If those new estimates are accurate, the state would have some $6.9 billion more in tax revenue than what the Murphy administration initially estimated in March.

According to OLS, the federal government and many states, like New Jersey, realized huge increases in April tax payments. David Drescher, section chief for revenue, finance and appropriations at OLS said that the unexpected increase in revenue is related to the “boom in financial markets and overheated economy over the past 12 months.” 

Despite this recent unanticipated revenue surge, Drescher cautioned that “In light of the dive in stock markets since the start of this year, we should not expect this kind of revenue to continue.”

Legislative Leaders Offer Budget Priorities     

 Immediately following the state’s announcement of the increased revenue projections, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said that he wants this budget to include the “largest tax relief program in state history.”

“I look forward to working with legislative leadership and the Governor over the coming weeks to craft a proposal and deliver on that promise for the people of New Jersey,” Coughlin said. “With reasons to be cautious on the horizon, we will also make sure to leverage our surplus, so we are ready to weather any storm coming our way.”

 Senate Budget Chair Paul Sarlo said he wants a surplus that’s in the range of $7 to $8 billion – up from $6 billion he was seeking prior to the latest revenue update. Sarlo also indicated that he is open to discussing more tax relief with Speaker Coughlin and paying down additional debt.

Deputy State Treasurer Aaron Binder said that the Murphy Administration would also like to see an increased surplus. “We don’t have a specific number but with the resources coming in, we want as large a surplus as possible,” said Binder.

New Jersey Equitable Energy Coalition Formed

This week, New Jersey civil rights leaders launched a new organization to advocate against pollution and for clean energy initiatives in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

The group, New Jersey Progressive Equitable Energy Coalition, is made up of several groups including New Jersey NAACP, Latino Action Network, Clean Energy Advocate for Isles Inc., Atlantic Climate Justice Alliance and the New Jersey Coalition of Latino Pastors and Ministers. The new coalition uses the abbreviation NJPEEC, which is pronounced "NJ peak."

"We learned that just being aware of something does not equal change. You need power, you need leverage, you need partnership, you need relationships,” said Marcus Sibley, chair of the New Jersey NAACP’s environmental and climate justice committee.

New Jersey NAACP’s Marcus Sibley, who will also chair the new group, said civil rights organizations will be trying to move legislation and encourage policies that put equity at the forefront of the clean energy and climate change discussion.

New Jersey has a landmark law from 2020 that aims to limit new pollution sources in neighborhoods already shouldering a disproportionate burden. The law also requires the Department of Environmental Protection to craft regulations, which the department has yet to release.

Sibley said problems with the law’s implementation are part of what prompted the coalition to form. “We learned that even with one of the nation’s most progressive environmental justice laws, there are still loopholes these companies are trying to fight to get through,” he said.

New Legislator Profile: Assemblywoman Victoria A. Flynn (R-13)

Assemblywoman Flynn was elected to the New Jersey State Assembly in November 2021 and currently serves on the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee (AFI), Assembly Housing Committee, the Assembly Judiciary Committee, and the Joint Committee on Public Schools.

Assemblywoman Flynn has previously served on the Nutley Board of Education and most recently as President of the Holmdel Township School District Board of Education. Assemblywoman Flynn earned a BA from Rutgers University (Political Science), a JD from Seton Hall Law School and is a practicing attorney in New Jersey.

Murphy Announces $125 Million Film & TV Studio in Newark

On Tuesday, Governor Murphy and local officials were in Newark to announce the latest project: a $125 million film and television studio to be built over the next two years at the site of a former public housing project in the South Ward. 

The facility, to be anchored by Lionsgate Studio, is expected to create more than 600 jobs for the region, with a priority given to Newark residents, as well as internships and educational opportunities to be overseen by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Expected to open in 2024, the 300,000-square-foot facility will be a joint project by Lionsgate, the arts center and Great Points Studio, a studio management business that will own the site. The property has sat unoccupied since 2015, when the Seth Boyden Housing project was abandoned. The buildings were demolished in February.

"One of my administration’s priorities has been to enhance New Jersey’s film industry and create new revenue streams for our state,” Murphy said. “With the addition of the Lionsgate Newark Studio, New Jersey will cement its position as a hub for television and film production."