The recent New Jersey State Budget approved by the Legislature for submission to Governor Phil Murphy comprised bold decisions acknowledging a new era where federal supports for states have vanished.
With a morally bankrupt Federal government, redefining the role of state government in relation to the free market must be addressed. The growing wealth gap, stagnate wages and growth in child poverty for New Jersey cannot be ignored. Dismantling social safety net programs that helped to move families such as mine, from low wage earners to the middle class has to end. Relinquishing the laissez-faire disposition that the free market will provide for communities and our vulnerable citizens. Bold decisions that will begin to create a sustainable and credible state government that does not continue to pull from middle class and low wage earners.
New Jersey families have endured 11 straight credit downgrades due to our failure to cover our expenses. The Chris Christie republican administration did not put our most vulnerable citizens, our elders and children first. This budget provides tax credits for child and dependent care, expands the earned income tax credit, and includes the full payment of the public pension. Additionally, we found a way to bolster school aid which means putting teachers back in the classroom and expanding access to more resources for those classrooms.
We cannot ignore the widening income inequality and must rely on corporate fiscal responsibility to pay their fair share. New Jersey has an educated workforce that may only grow with corporate investments in our state government, infrastructure and programs. We must eradicate the unacceptable levels of wealth inequality and invest in our workforce.
This budget is a bold move that takes a deep dive into a new era of reforms to the state and local tax, our family lifestyles and creates the opportunity to achieve middle class. This is an investment in a future that I wish for my children and all children of our great state.
Shavonda Sumter, Democrat of Paterson, is the Democratic Majority Conference Leader of the New Jersey General Assembly