Governor Murphy Extends Public Health Emergency: Earlier this week, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No, 186, extending the state’s Public Health Emergency that was originally declared on March 9, 2020 and has been subsequently extended on April 7, May 6, June 4 and August 27. Under the Emergency Health Powers Act, a declared public health emergency expires after 30 days unless renewed.
“As we enter the Fall season, it is important to continue to take all steps necessary to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19 in our state. Maintaining our access to all resources is critical, and an extension of the public health emergency will allow us to continue making progress against the virus,” said Murphy.
$32.7 Billion State Budget Signed into Law: This week, at a ceremony held at the Trenton War Memorial, Governor Murphy signed into law a $32.7 billion, nine-month budget that includes his long-sought millionaire’s tax and a $500 rebate to hundreds of middle-class families in New Jersey.
“We may have had some differing viewpoints and frank discussions, but our shared vision and common goal of preparing our state for a stronger, fairer and more resilient post-COVID future remain steady. This budget will be there for the people of New Jersey,“ said Governor Murphy at the budget signing ceremony.
As part of this budget, the tax rate on income of more than $1 million will increase from 8.97% to 10.75%. The millionaire’s tax fulfills one of Murphy’s major campaign promises and matches the tax rate paid on income of more than $5 million.
As part of the budget agreement, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin brokered a deal that will provide rebates of up to $500 for hundreds of thousands of New Jersey families whose single-parent incomes are less than $75,000, or $150,000 for two-parent households.
“I am very pleased that we reached this important agreement on a law that will help middle-class families, many of whom are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is critically important that we stand up for those battling to put food on the table, pay bills and afford everyday necessities,” said Speaker Coughlin.
The budget also includes another increase on the annual assessment levied on HMO premiums from 3% to 5%. New Jersey raised that assessment from 2% to 3% last year.
This budget also reinstates a 2.5% surcharge on corporations that will be phased-out in a few years. Moreover, the budget boosts the state's surplus to more than $2.5 billion, calls for $4.5 billion in borrowing to help close a multibillion-dollar revenue shortfall and holds school funding flat.
The final version of the budget does not include some smaller revenue raising proposals offered by the governor including taxes on cigarettes, an increase in gun fees and a tax on boat purchases and limo rides. Also not included is the “baby bond plan” that would have given tens of thousands of newborns $1,000 bonds.
Assembly Republican Budget Officer Hal Wirths said, “New Jersey will be the only state in the nation to increase spending and increase debt as people are continuing to file new unemployment claims and small businesses continue to close. The reason California leads the nation in poverty and New Jersey in working-poor residents is the same liberal economic ideology.”
Minimum Wage to rise to $12/hour on January 1: According to an announcement from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) the state’s minimum hourly wage will go up by $1 to $12 per hour, for most employees, on January 1, 2021.
The minimum hourly wage for employees of a small employer or those engaged in seasonal work will increase to $11.10, while employees who work on a farm for an hourly or piece-rate wage will see their minimum hourly wage increase to $10.44, both rising from $10.30.
In February 2019, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a landmark law that incrementally increases the minimum hourly wage to $15 (in 2024) for most employees, but gives seasonal, small, and agricultural employers more time to reach the new minimum threshold.