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NJ’s record-setting budget gets approved

State lawmakers sent Gov. Phil Murphy an election-year budget packed with new spending on public-worker pensions, tax relief, special education, debt reduction and more.  Murphy signed it into law.

The record-high, $46.4 billion budget plan takes advantage of a recent windfall of tax revenue that is helping the state amass a more than $10 billion surplus heading into the new fiscal year that begins July 1. The budget cleared the Assembly with a 49-26 vote and the Senate in a 25-15 vote.

The budget legislation earmarks $6.9 billion for the public-worker pension fund, which will be a record contribution for a state that has failed to make full actuarially required contributions for more than two decades. Murphy in February proposed making the first full payment in nearly 25 years, at $6.4 billion. Lawmakers voted to dedicate another $505 million on a future payment to the pension investment system.

The new budget will also increase the size of Homestead rebates for thousands of senior and disabled, and low- and middle-income New Jersey homeowners. Homeowners who receive property tax help through the state’s Homestead Benefit program would see their credits increase at least $130. It will also increase the exclusion for a state income-tax break for retirement income from $100,000 to $150,000.

The record-high, $46.4 billion budget plan takes advantage of a recent windfall of tax revenue that is helping the state amass a more than $10 billion surplus heading into the new fiscal year that begins July 1. One of the biggest pots of money in this budget, as has been the case for decades, is funding for public education. About $18 billion is earmarked for education, with roughly half of that going as aid to local school districts.