Later this month, Governor Christie will present to the Legislature his proposed budget for the next fiscal year. Early this month, he is scheduled to speak at our 20th Annual Mayors’ Legislative Day in Trenton. While we will be interested to hear about all of the Governor’s spending and saving priorities, our major concern will be what,
if anything, he plans to do about the state’s chronic budgetary reliance on municipal revenues.
Every year, during the state budget debate, reference is made to “state aid to municipalities.” Throughout the years, the public has been told that “state aid to municipalities” is state money that the state government budgets for municipalities. In fact, most of the funds are actually replacement revenues that are intended to replace property tax relief funding which was formerly generated through locally assessed and locally collected taxes, specifically to fund municipal programs and services.
When the State Budget diverts funding from these sources, and distributes less than the amounts specified in state statutes (which it can do, based on a State Supreme Court decision), it really relies on municipal aid to balance its budget.
For years now, however, it has been standard operating procedure to give our state’s struggling
citizens less. Over the past ten years, in fact, the state government has denied local property taxpayers over $3.4 billion of relief.
At the 2010 New Jersey League of Municipalities’ Conference, the delegates voted in favor of a Resolution “To End State Diversion of Municipal Revenues and Demand Compliance with State Laws” as a major priority for the League’s Legislative Action Program. The League’s Statutory Funding
Compliance Committee, organized pursuant to the resolution, seeks to return every penny of this lost revenue to local governments. The committee is chaired by East Windsor Mayor and League 1st Vice President Janice Mironov. We welcome you participation in its efforts.
Energy Tax funding is, and has been, the number one State Budget issue for municipalities and for property taxpayers. We are anxious to learn of the Governor’s plans.
Giving municipal property taxpayers all the relief they deserve needs to be a part of the State Budget.
Editorial from New Jersey
Municipalities, Volume 89, Number 2, February 2012