TRENTON — Even though it’s an election year and the state coffers appear relatively flush with cash, liberal advocacy groups in the For the Many coalition are continuing to push for tax increases in the state budget being proposed Tuesday by Gov. Phil Murphy.

The groups say New Jersey needs to bolster spending on public health, education, housing and more and suggest more than $1 billion a year could be collected if the state returned its sales tax to 7%, restored an estate tax and changed the "combined reporting" allowance in the state’s corporate business tax.

“We want to continually beat the drum that we have other ways to pursue to make sure the wealthiest and the successful corporations are contributing to our economic recovery,” said Sheila Reynertson, senior policy analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective.

There aren’t going to be tax or fee increases proposed in Murphy’s budget plan, Politico reported. The budget will include nearly $580 million more toward the school-funding formula and a nearly $6.4 billion pension contribution, the first full payment since 1996, according to Politico and the Wall Street Journal.

But Reynertson said the state is going to be facing a fiscal cliff, probably in its 2023 budget proposed a year from now, because of $4 billion in emergency borrowing and the pandemic’s long-term impact.

“We are close as ever to the fiscal cliff,” said Dena Mottola Jaborska, associate director of New Jersey Citizen Action. “New Jersey’s financial status is as poor as it ever was.”

“This year, like past years, our state needs to continue to adopt new, fairly derived and sustainable funding sources,” Jaborska said. “There are still plenty of meritless tax advantages that the wealthy enjoy here in our state.”

Sue Altman, executive director of New Jersey Working Families, said the state should close corporate tax loopholes.

“We must reimagine and reinvest in our state,” Altman said. “It’s 2021. The economy can no longer simply be just measured by the happiness and contentment of old, rich white guys.”

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Michele Siekerka, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said the state’s 2021 budget included more tax increases, spending increases and borrowing than any state in the nation.

“We need a budget that galvanizes New Jersey’s economic recovery, not one that pushes us over our fiscal cliff with another lap in the seemingly endless run of taxing, spending and borrowing,” Siekerka said.

“New Jersey has amassed a massive budget surplus, mostly on the backs of businesses, taxpayers and the unnecessary borrowing for which everyone will pay,” she said. “With that, there is simply no justification for any tax increase this year.”

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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