Legislation to provide for $750 million in bonds to pay for expansions and upgrades at New Jersey's higher education institutions today passed the Assembly Budget Committee, though a series of business-related bills still await votes in both houses of the Legislature.
The Senate and Assembly are both set to vote on a $31.7 billion state budget similar to Gov. Chris Christie's, but with one key difference — the Legislature's budget would implement $183 million in tax cuts only if Christie's revenue estimates bear fruit. That's angered the state's business groups.
"We're talking about $180 million in a $32 billion budget. Any business knows there's enough money for priorities, so why isn't the tax cut a priority and included?" said Philip Kirschner, president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. "It should be a priority to give back $180 million to businesses. Extra spending or additions to programs should be what is put off to another day."
After more than three month's delay, the Senate — as well as Assembly — are scheduled to vote on a two-year lengthening of the Permit Extension Act.
"A lot of good work has been done over the last 60 days to educate members regarding the particulars of the act itself," said Tim Touhey, CEO of the New Jersey Builders Association. "Since the first act passed in 2008, it's been the greatest recession of our time for housing with a major investment in permits and approvals. The collapse would have been off the board without this act, and now there's some thawing in the market, but we're far from being out of the woods."
In addition to releasing the $750 million bond referendum, the Assembly is scheduled to vote on a bill that would allow the restructuring of the state's institutions of higher education.
In the Senate, a bill to transform foreclosed properties into affordable residential housing — sponsored by Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) — and legislation to provide additional bonding for the Transportation Trust Fund are up for a vote this afternoon.