Yesterday in Trenton, the Assembly Budget Committee heard testimony from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services’ Budget and Finance Officer, Frank Haines, and State Treasurer, Elizabeth Maher Muoio, regarding Governor Murphy’s proposed Supplemental Appropriations/De-appropriations plan that will govern State spending during the extended Fiscal Year. As a result of the decision to lengthen the State’s current Fiscal Year (SFY ’20) through September, both Houses will need to pass a bill before the end of June in order to keep the State’s budget in balance during the following three months.
Back in March when the decision was made to postpone the beginning of New Jersey’s FY 2021, your League Officers – President Jim Perry, Committeeman, Hardwick; First Vice President Janice Kovach, Mayor, Clinton Town; Second Vice President William Chegwidden, Mayor, Wharton; and Third Vice President Sue Howard, Mayor, Monmouth Beach – wrote to the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the State Treasurer, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the General Assembly. That letter recounted municipal efforts in response to the pandemic, projected revenue losses, and highlighted the strain that the virus would impose on local budgets.
Our Officers called on State decision-makers to respect the importance of strong municipalities to our citizens, and to the State’s economic well-being. The letter emphasized the vital importance of municipal property tax relief funding – the Energy Tax Receipts and Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Assistance programs (ETR/CMPTRA) – and urged State budget makers to preserve that funding through SFY ’20 and SFY ’21.
Thanks to their leadership, and thanks to all of you who reached out to State officials on this, Governor Murphy’s proposal will not cut crucial ETR/CMPTRA funding. This is a welcome departure from actions taken by previous Governors facing less devastating revenue shortfalls. We thank the Governor and his Administration for this response to our outreach.
While the Governor is asking the Legislature to delay the September ETR/CMPTRA payments (30% of total allocation) until October, it appears that the Administration intends to deliver the August (45%) payments on time.
The Administration is also requesting legislative authorization to use a portion of State government’s Federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) funding to create a $250 million Local Government Relief Fund. The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) will administer this as reimbursement-based grants to local governments for eligible CRF related costs that will not be reimbursable through other sources, including FEMA. As required by the Federal CARES Act, local units could only use this funding to cover substantial COVID-19 related expenditures that were not included in the most recently approved budget, and that are incurred between March and the end of this calendar year. DCA would be directed to prioritize the 12 counties that were not eligible for their own Coronavirus Relief Fund allocations.
We will keep you posted as the Legislature continues its consideration of the Governor’s proposal. And we urge you to contact your State Legislators, voicing your support for the Administration’s recommended preservation of ETR/CMPTRA funding, and for the $250 million Local Government Relief Fund.
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481, ext. 121.