TRENTON, N.J. – Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Act into Law, building on the historic progress made over the last five years with new investments centered around increasing affordability, promoting fiscal responsibility, and creating world-class opportunities for everyone to succeed.
The budget approved by the Legislature on June 30, 2023, provides record levels of direct property tax relief with additional aid for seniors and renters while once again providing the highest level of school funding in history; making a third consecutive full pension payment; and supporting significant investments in the economy, workforce development, and affordable housing.
The Governor signed the budget in the rotunda of the newly renovated New Jersey State House where he was joined by Senate President Nicholas Scutari, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz, Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald, Senate Budget Chair Paul Sarlo, Assembly Budget Chair Eliana Pintor Marin, and State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio.
“When I first proposed this budget, I said it was a budget designed with a singular purpose – to continue building an economy where every family can afford to make their American Dream come true. Today we are delivering on that promise,” said Governor Murphy. “Over the last two years we have committed over $6 billion in direct property tax relief, tackling one of the single greatest and longest standing affordability challenges our state faces. This budget will also lower prescription-drug costs for seniors, help hardworking families by expanding free pre-K for kids, create good-paying jobs and fight climate change by building a green economy, expand mental health services for our kids, build and preserve affordable housing so everyone has a place they can call home, help first-generation homebuyers achieve the safety and security of owning a home, and so much more. We are accomplishing all of this in a fiscally responsible way. This budget continues to fully deliver on our commitments to our pension payments and school funding, while also maintaining a healthy surplus.”
“The budget signed into law today will help make New Jersey more affordable for hardworking residents and families by boosting tax relief and investing in affordable housing, social services, and education,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “This budget demonstrates that we remain steadfast in our commitment to providing New Jerseyans of all walks of life the opportunity and resources to thrive.”
“This is a great budget for the people of New Jersey. It will help make their lives more affordable with an historic amount of property tax relief, including increased rebates, an expansion of Senior Freeze and a down payment on StayNJ, which will provide additional tax relief for senior citizens,” said Senate President Nicholas Scutari. “We are also distributing $150 million in energy tax receipts to municipalities to further hold down property taxes. This is a fiscally-responsible spending plan that includes a record level of school funding, a full pension payment and a surplus of more than $10 billion. This budget will help improve the lives and livelihoods of New Jersey’s residents in meaningful ways.”
“This budget ensures our state will be more affordable for everyone,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. “It also meets our obligations with yet another full pension payment, increases in school aid, support for our most vulnerable neighbors, and a healthy surplus for any future economic uncertainty. I am especially proud of what we’ve done for New Jersey seniors, with the StayNJ program set to deliver historic property tax relief. I proposed StayNJ because seniors deserve the dignity of remaining in their homes, enjoying their later years near their families. Thanks to Governor Murphy, Senate President Scutari, and all our partners in the legislature for their work on this. We have demonstrated that we can do big, bold things for New Jersey while being fiscally responsible.”
“The budget signed today represents the culmination of months of long meetings and thoughtful deliberations and includes significant investments in our communities, our families and our future,” said Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz. “We are doubling the child tax credit, continuing on the pathway towards universal Pre-K and once again increasing school funding. We are continuing to fund the postpartum home visitation program and lifesaving mental health initiatives. This budget represents our continued effort to make New Jersey more affordable for all of our residents while making lasting investments in our children and the institutions and programs which will nourish their growth and success.”
“The FY24 State Budget reflects our shared priorities, spending on programs that will make a difference in the lives of New Jersey residents while maintaining a healthy surplus,” said Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald. “New Jersey residents will benefit from new and expanded property tax relief programs and an expanded child tax credit. We are funding programs to support education, affordable housing and healthcare, which will have a meaningful impact.”
“This is a responsive and responsible budget that meets the economic challenges of our time,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo. “It will provide significant tax relief, install economic safeguards and help fuel economic growth. It addresses our top priority of making the lives of New Jersey’s residents more affordable. It includes a full pension payment, a record amount of school aid, a robust surplus to protect against economic uncertainty and a debt defeasance fund to drive down debt. We need to continue to be fiscally responsible with the use of our resources at the same time we expand economic opportunities that build a better future for New Jersey and our residents.”
“This budget highlights the priorities of a New Jersey that values its residents, promotes inclusivity, and invests in our future,” said Assembly Budget Committee Chairwoman Eliana Pintor Marin. “Together, we are ensuring that hardworking families receive the retirement security they deserve, access to safe and affordable homes, relief from property taxes, and quality education that empowers our children to thrive.”
“I would like to thank my staff at the Department of the Treasury, particularly the hardworking folks at the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Revenue and Economic Analysis for their tireless dedication and professionalism. The budget signed by the governor today continues our commitment to making the state a more affordable place to live, work, raise a family, and retire,” said State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. “With unprecedented tax relief for our seniors and middle-class families, a third full pension payment in as many years, record funding of our best-in-the-nation schools and a budget surplus of approximately 15 percent, this budget maintains sound fiscal management that helps prepare for the Next New Jersey.”
The $54.5 billion budget for Fiscal Year (FY2024) includes a historic surplus of $8.3 billion, which is more than 15 percent of budgeted appropriations, dwarfing the surplus inherited five years ago.
With the FY2024 budget, a total of 20 tax cuts for working and middle-class families and seniors have been enacted under the Murphy Administration, including more than $2 billion in direct property tax relief for the second year of the ANCHOR property tax relief program. As the State begins to phase-in the newly enacted StayNJ property tax relief program championed by Assembly Speaker Coughlin, ANCHOR will provide a $250 boost in relief for senior homeowners and renters this year. Eligible senior tenants will now see their relief boosted by more than 55 percent to $700 in the coming year and homeowners will receive $1,250 or $1,750, depending on their income.
The StayNJ senior property tax credit affordability program expands income limits and modifies ownership requirements with the aim of cutting property taxes in half for many eligible New Jersey seniors by providing a direct credit of up to $6,500 on property tax bills when fully implemented.
Additional relief for seniors was also enacted alongside the budget, which will expand eligibility for the Senior Freeze property tax relief program next year for those with incomes up to $150,000, up from roughly $100,000. To further help boost affordability for seniors, the budget and legislation signed alongside it (S3/A3), sponsored by Senator Joseph Vitale and Assemblyman Chris Tully, also increases eligibility for the State’s senior prescription drug and hearing aid programs to help make New Jersey more affordable for individuals of all ages.
In addition to raising the income eligibility limits for the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled Program (PAAD) to benefit more seniors, the new law includes a number of directives to encourage enrollment in both PAAD and the Senior Gold Prescription Program, including establishing a grant program in the Department of Human Services to support the hiring and training of Senior Save Navigators to assist residents in applying for programs such as PAAD and Senior Gold.
For working- and middle-class families, the budget delivers significant relief by including the Governor’s proposal to double the Child Tax Credit that was enacted last year. The program will now provide up to $1,000 per child under age six for families earning under $30,000.
For the second year in a row, the budget includes a back-to-school sales tax holiday and waives the fee for entrance into all State parks for another year, including Island Beach State Park. To help boost the ranks of teachers in New Jersey the budget also waives the fee for teacher certification, as proposed by the Governor this year.
For the sixth straight year, the Governor has also promised no fare increases for NJ TRANSIT commuters.
Additionally, the budget continues to increase indirect property tax relief by providing $150 million in Energy Tax Receipts-related payments to extend the Municipal Relief Fund for an additional year, doubling last year’s funding, which is designed to offset the burden on local property taxpayers by providing additional aid to municipalities.
Expanding Educational Opportunity
The budget also supports the Governor’s commitment to supporting New Jersey’s best-in-the-nation public education system by providing another record total of $11 billion in direct K-12 aid for public schools, including an increase of $832 million, as well as $103 million in supplemental stabilization aid enacted in April for school districts adjusting to changes in aid based on enrollment. With this latest budget, the State has now increased overall K-12 support to New Jersey’s public schools by more than $2.6 billion over six years, a more than 30 percent increase, all of which helps offset local property taxes.
Advancing the Governor’s goal of universal pre-K, the budget includes an additional $116 million for pre-school education aid, $40 million of which will go towards expanding programs in new districts as well as other critical needs for further expansion.
Additionally, the Governor is working to shore up the ranks of teachers, budgeting over $20 million in new investments and other supports to help ensure New Jersey has the trained and dedicated workforce to provide a top-quality education for public school students years into the future. This includes $10 million for student teacher stipends to help future educators meet the costs of living while working and studying for their credentials, $5 million to waive teacher certification fees, $2 million for Culture and Climate Innovation Grants to help improve educator quality of life, $1 million for the Teachers Loan Redemption Program, $1 million to develop local partnerships for para-professional training, $800,000 for a teacher apprenticeship program, and $500,000 to expand the Teacher Leader Network. The proposed budget also maintains funding for Men of Color Hope Achievers (MOCHA) and the Minority Teacher Development Programs to support a diverse educator workforce.
To accelerate learning outcomes, the State will also dedicate nearly $55 million this year in federal funds for learning acceleration and other recovery programs, as proposed by the Governor.
The budget also strengthens the Governor’s “College Promise” programs by increasing the eligibility threshold for both the Community College Opportunity Grant and the Garden State Guarantee so that students with family incomes up to $100,000 can benefit. Additionally, the budget increases the value of Tuition Aid Grants for over 20,000 students and expands the Some College, No Degree program, so that former students with some credit receive the support they need to complete school.
The budget also provides over $150 million in the Outcomes-Based Allocation this year for State colleges and universities, compared to $55 million in FY2023, to help keep tuition affordable and support the next generation of New Jersey’s educated workforce. Additionally, it includes $70 million to help cover fringe benefit costs at public research universities, an additional $20 million for community colleges, and an additional $5 million for independent colleges and universities.
Promoting Fiscal Responsibility
In addition to a record projected ending surplus of $8.3 billion – 20 times larger than the surplus the Murphy Administration inherited – the FY2024 budget also makes good on the Administration’s commitment to public sector employees by including the third consecutive full pension payment. The $7.1 billion payment, which includes contributions from the State Lottery, brings the total contribution to the pension fund under the Murphy Administration to $32.6 billion, nearly triple the $12.2 billion paid under the previous six administrations combined. The FY2024 payment will mark the first time in a quarter of a century that the State has contributed 100 percent of the Actuarially Determined Contribution three years in a row.
The budget also puts additional money in the Debt Defeasance and Prevention Fund, bringing the current available balance to $2 billion to support important State infrastructure projects and avoid incurring new debt in the future. The FY2024 deposit brings the total allocation to the fund to $9.25 billion over the last two years, which has been used to retire existing debt while setting aside money to pay for upcoming projects that might otherwise be bonded. Over a two-year period, $3.5 billion from the fund has already been used to defease $4.7 billion in State debt service through FY2042, saving the State’s taxpayers $1.2 billion.
The continued commitment by the Governor and the Legislature to bolster the pension system, reduce debt, and build up the State’s surplus has saved taxpayers money and garnered a total of seven credit rating upgrades from the four major rating agencies over the last 16 months.
The budget also includes substantial funding to continue upgrading the State’s service-based infrastructure to ensure a more efficient delivery of essential services to taxpayers, including more than $40 million to continue improving the unemployment insurance system, digitizing more services at the Motor Vehicle Commission, and expanding the Division of Taxation’s property tax relief call center.
Expanding Opportunity and Promoting Economic Growth
The budget also places a concerted focus on expanding opportunities for every New Jerseyan in tandem with supporting economic growth, a hallmark of Governor Murphy’s time in office.
An $80 million allocation of federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds will be used to create an Urban Investment Fund and Atlantic City Economic Foundations Fund to work alongside current and proposed business incentive programs. The funds will aid in the revitalization of urban areas and catalyze new economic and community activity where shifting patterns of work and commuting since the pandemic have reduced foot traffic and created ongoing challenges to community vitality.
Grants from the fund would be flexible and responsive to the needs of cities and could include funding to reimagine the use of now-underutilized office space, support capital construction projects that renovate or restore vacant buildings, or build new destinations and spaces for urban communities. As proposed by the Governor in February, the budget also includes a specific set-aside for Atlantic City to improve public safety, rebuild distressed housing, and diversify economic development in the city.
The FY2024 budget also allocates $50 million in continued support for the Main Street Recovery Program, which funds multiple financial assistance products aimed at supporting the growth and success of small businesses in New Jersey.
The budget continues to expand job opportunities for New Jerseyans, increasing the allocation for the Workforce Development Partnership Fund (WDPF) by $5 million, to $27.5 million, to invest in apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and other programs that develop skills while bringing more women and minorities into job training opportunities. The State has invested a total of $50 million through grant programs since the Governor took office to create and develop work-based learning, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs across the state
The budget also includes significant investments to grow New Jersey’s green economy and combat climate change, including $12 million more for the Clean Energy Program, which previously went to NJ TRANSIT, a $40 million Green Fund to leverage both private capital and federal funds, $20 million for the Resilience and Stormwater Planning and Infrastructure program, and an additional $10 million to support the continued installation of EV charging infrastructure throughout the State.
Additionally, the budget agreement includes $20 million to support the creation of a Social Impact Investment Fund, an innovative new financing tool to provide below-market loans for socially conscious projects in distressed municipalities.
The budget agreement also includes the $100 million Boardwalk Fund Governor Murphy initially proposed in February, which will support repairs and renovations to boardwalks up and down the Jersey shore that support the State’s tourism industry and provide a crucial economic engine.
The budget also includes an additional $20 million for continued development of the ambitious, new, nine-mile Greenway that will convert a former rail line into a new State park connecting eight Essex and Hudson County communities.
The budget agreement not only reduces NJ TRANSIT’s capital-to-operating transfer to its lowest level in 21 years, it also includes $137 million in new funding from the Debt Defeasance and Prevention Fund to match federal funding earmarked for transportation-related capital investments. Additionally, the budget will expand the Department of Transportation’s innovative Simple Fix Safety program.
The FY2024 budget also funds substantial investments to improve public health and social outcomes and reduce long-standing disparities.
To that end, the budget includes nearly $300 million for a host of housing affordability initiatives, including over $100 million in federal ARP funds to build upon last year’s $300 million landmark creation of the Affordable Housing Production Fund. A new Urban Preservation Fund will provide $80 million to maintain affordability of existing units in New Jersey cities, and additional funds will be used to develop new workforce housing units to improve affordability in transit-served areas, enhance urban vitality, and launch a Resilient Homes Construction Pilot program to expand building stock and affordable homeownership across the state. All told, the Murphy Administration will have committed over $1.3 billion in federal ARP funds to housing programs over the last three fiscal years.
Drawing on the work of the Wealth Disparity Task Force, the budget also includes an additional $15 million to enhance the existing Down Payment Assistance Program to provide game-changing assistance for first-generation homebuyers and help families who have been excluded from homeownership for generations.
The budget also includes over $300 million more than last year in ARP and State funding to support hospital capital investments to bolster New Jersey’s public health infrastructure. This includes $30 million to create the City of Newark Access to Health Care Partnership, and $60 million in additional funding for University Hospital to expand and improve its emergency and maternity departments.
Additionally, the budget includes $86 million that was initially proposed by the Governor in February to support a one-time program through the Department of Human Services to subsidize training and recruitment for mental health, substance use, and developmental disabilities service providers to help address what has become a national crisis.
As part of Governor Murphy’s national leadership on youth mental health, the budget also includes $43 million to launch the New Jersey Statewide Student Support Services (NJ4S) network, which will deliver wellness and prevention supports from regional hubs. An additional $40 million will support providers across multiple divisions in the Department of Children and Families, including the Children’s System of Care.
The budget also continues to invest in improving maternal and infant health and mortality rates throughout New Jersey. As part of First Lady Tammy Murphy’s Nurture NJ initiative, the proposed budget includes new funds for a maternal health data center and to train community health workers and doulas. Additionally, $15.6 million in State funding will support the continued expansion of the landmark, statewide Universal Newborn Home Nurse Visitation Program, putting New Jersey further along the path to being one of the first states in the nation to provide this critical care for all mothers and newborns within the first two weeks of birth.
The budget also continues to provide crucial investments to make health care more affordable and accessible for every New Jerseyan, leveraging State and federal funding through the Get Covered New Jersey exchange, while also supporting Cover All Kids and funding a $10 million pilot program to eliminate personal medical debt.
To address the disparate, long-term impact that many justice system fees and fines can have on people of limited means, the budget includes Governor Murphy’s proposal to eliminate public defender fees, which are currently assessed on indigent clients regardless of whether they are ultimately found guilty. Additionally, the budget provides funding for the Parole Revocation Defense Unit and to increase the rates paid to attorneys assisting the Office of the Public Defender to help ensure that residents of limited means have access to an effective legal defense.
The budget also includes the Governor’s proposal to provide over $8 million in increased State funds to support the first-in-the-nation statewide expansion of the ARRIVE Together program, which stands for Alternative Responses to Reduce Instances of Violence and Escalation and pairs police officers and State Troopers with mental health professionals when responding to a person who is experiencing a mental health crisis.
To ensure that the State’s first responders and law enforcement professionals receive the training and equipment necessary to protect and serve New Jersey’s nine million residents, the budget funds the Governor’s proposed doubling of the successful Firefighters Grant Program, bringing the total to $20 million. The budget also makes significant investments to strengthen the ranks of the New Jersey State Police, allocating $120 million to begin building a new training center for the next generation of New Jersey State Police and including an additional $5 million for the 166th State Trooper recruit class.