Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo issued the following statement after the Senate passed the FY 2022 state budget:
“This is a smart and responsible budget. In many respects, it’s a COVID-recovery budget that makes the best use of public resources to address the needs of New Jersey as we emerge from the most severe public health crisis of a lifetime.
“We have the advantage of state revenues significantly higher than anticipated, and a substantial amount of federal aid. But, we are being cautious and thoughtful in how these funds are used.
“It spends on COVID-related needs that protect the health and safety of our residents, and it spends on the services and programs that are always important for maintaining our quality of life.
“It’s really more than a “spending plan.” It is also a plan for savings, for debt reduction, for tax relief, for investing in our future, and for avoiding a fiscal cliff.
“It pays down debt, makes strategic investments in long-term priorities, and covers multi-year needs, including an increase of $505 million in the pension payment and a surplus of $6.4 billion.
“It sets aside $1.3 billion for a Rainy Day Fund, and creates a debt defeasance fund of $3.7 billion that will produce savings by paying down existing debt and avoiding future debt.
“We are ensuring that the Legislature has a shared responsibility in the use of the $6.5 billion in federal funds New Jersey received from the American Rescue Plan. Unlike the post-Sandy era with former Governor Christie, the Legislature will work in partnership with the Governor to make use of these resources.
“We are making use of available resources to deliver tax relief to middle class families and working people. We are expanding the tax credits for families, rebates for homeowners, deductions for veterans, and increased savings for the working poor. It also will make college and retirement more affordable for low- and middle-income residents.
“The budget includes $500 million for rental assistance, $250 million for utility relief, $100 million to help students with disabilities, $180 million for HVAC improvements to schools, and $100 million to expand childcare so people can get back to work.
“And, it delivers $450 million to trauma centers and increases Charity Care by $40 million.
“I believe that this is a budget that will effectively address the needs of the people of New Jersey and will help guide us through the state’s recovery and resurgence.”