Gov. Phil Murphy, Senate President Nick Scutari (D-Linden), and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) gathered in South Brunswick today to announce that they’ve reached an agreement on a critical piece of the Fiscal Year 2023 budget: the Affordable New Jersey Communities for Homeowners and Renters, or ANCHOR, property tax relief program.
“We all know that property taxes put pressure on our middle class and working families on a good day,” Murphy said. “But the pressure they are facing now, during a time of hyper global inflation, is even greater. And it makes our mission that much more urgent.”
The program, which was a cornerstone of Murphy’s March budget address, uses much of the state’s projected budget surplus to fund $2 billion in direct property tax rebates, which Murphy said would go to around 2 million households representing 5½ million New Jersey residents. According to Murphy, homeowners with incomes up to $150,000 would receive $1,500 this year; homeowners with incomes between $150,000 and $250,000 would receive $1,000; and renters with incomes up to $150,000 would receive $450 to offset rising rents.
“This unprecedented economic growth that we’ve seen here in New Jersey has increased state revenues to historic levels, and we have an obligation to give that money back,” Scutari said. “This is no small deal. This is a big part of Democrats giving back to taxpayers because they have not felt all the economic growth.”
“Think about the impact that will have on folks,” Coughlin added. “It means they’ll have more money in their pockets to help pay for all of the things that they want… This is something that we’ve worked hard to make sustainable in the years to come, because that’s what truly is important: that we do something that has a profound impact, not just today but in the years to come.”
The deal means that a huge puzzle piece of the budget is mostly settled, though Scutari noted in his remarks that other components of the budget still need to be hashed out before the June 30 deadline.
“We’re not there yet,” he said. “We’ve got a great first step today, unprecedented – in fact, it’s the biggest step that we have. [But] we have some more work to be done.”
While Murphy may have most Democrats on board with his plan, legislative Republicans have repeatedly criticized the governor’s proposals. They’ve released their own counterproposals for the budget, including cutting income taxes, halting planned tax and fare hikes, and increasing legislative oversight of some gubernatorial spending.
Shortly after today’s ANCHOR announcement, Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown) released a statement saying that the ANCHOR program rebates “don’t fix New Jersey’s over-taxation addiction.”
“Injecting steroids into Murphy’s recycled rebate program won’t get anyone more excited about it than when Murphy announced it in February,” DiMaio said. “It doesn’t deliver meaningful changes in fiscal policy and will be the first program to get cut when money is tight.”
Republicans have also tried to push for their own rebate programs in the legislature, so far to no avail. Tomorrow, Senate Republicans intend to seek a full floor vote on their proposed “Give It Back” $1,000 rebates, which have yet to come up for discussion in the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
In his remarks today, Murphy seemingly pooh-poohed those proposals and others like them, calling them “misguided priorities” that have been tried before.
“We’re not focused on one-time relief, as some in Trenton are,” he said. “We’re not focused on tax break gimmicks which would overly benefit those at the top. And we’re not focused on big corporations… Suffice to say, those broken promises and misguided priorities are part of the reason why our middle-class families felt as if no one in Trenton cared about them to begin with.”