To take inventory of Gov. Murphy’s first and arguably most important budget of his term, one must first put things into blunt perspective. New Jersey is in a pickle of epic proportions. The Garden State continues to be financially bogged down by its most pressing obligations: pension payments, health care benefits for retired public employees and debt service. And due to a sluggish economic recovery, the state has yet to regain revenue levels last seen before the Great Recession. Eight years of trickle-down economic policies — including tax breaks for millionaires and businesses and a runaway tax subsidy program — were a gamble that has failed to deliver favorable results. In response, credit rating agencies have issued New Jersey 11 credit downgrades leading to higher borrowing costs. Meanwhile, the cost of running government programs continues to rise while their funding remains chronically flat. With billions of dollars less in state coffers, those rising costs have been passed on in ways that are hidden in plain sight: less state aid for K-12 education, higher New Jersey Transit ticket prices, higher tuition fees and more student debt, shrinking options for affordable housing and skyrocketing child care costs. It all adds up to… Read full this story
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