From the Record:
Fresh off striking a budget deal that included $1.6 billion in new taxes, Gov. Phil Murphy said he was banking on strong economic growth going forward to raise the money he needs to fulfill a long list of progressive promises.
“We’re neither going to cut our way to salvation, nor are we going to tax our way to salvation,” Murphy, a Democrat, said in a July interview with NorthJersey.com and the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey. “The road that we’ve got to be absolutely laser focused on is grow our way to a better tomorrow.”
But economic growth alone is likely to leave Murphy at least $300 million short — and potentially much more — of what he needs next year to cover pledged funding for schools, public employee pensions and other priorities, according to an analysis by the Network.
That could force him to make politically painful decisions to cut programs or push to raise taxes further.
Murphy has said that with better policies in place under his predecessors, New Jersey could have added $2 billion to $3 billion a year in revenue from economic growth — a mark he says the state can achieve under his leadership.
As it is, however, New Jersey hasn’t added $2 billion in revenue at any point in the past decade.
All the while, New Jersey faces ballooning pension costs for public employees, growing outlays for health benefits and a broken NJ Transit system that could prove expensive to fix. And that’s in addition to Murphy’s other promises to increase funding for public schools, expand pre-K, provide tuition-free community college and enhance tax credits for low- and moderate-income working families.