On May 21 and 22, State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio will testify, respectively, before the Assembly Appropriations Committee and the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. At that time, the Treasurer will present the State’s revised revenue estimates, on which the State’s next budget will be based.
Please remind your State Legislators of our concerns regarding the Administration’s proposed revisions to the Energy Tax Receipts Property Tax Relief Fund (ETR).
Again, the proposed change will not decrease municipal property tax relief funding in the upcoming budget. Though we had hoped to see steps taken to restore the $320 million in cuts that have been included in the past eight State budgets, we appreciate the Administration’s effort to ensure level funding. And we have no doubts that the Governor, the Treasurer, and all current State Legislators appreciate the value of municipal government and remain committed to municipal property tax relief. But who knows what a future Administration or future Legislators might do, if they are given discretion over Energy Tax Receipts?
The Governor’s proposal will take energy sales and corporate tax receipts out of the off budget “lock box.” By State law, the first $788.5 million deposited in the lock box are dedicated to municipal property tax relief. Instead, all the energy sales and corporate tax proceeds will flow into the State’s General Fund. The Administration means to hold municipalities harmless, by replacing the loss with Income Tax dollars.
Again, we appreciate the commitment to level funding, even though the current level is lower than it ought to be. Our concerns regard the future and they are based on two factors.
First, it would open the lock box that has ensured the annual ETR distributions would meet the minimum requirements of the statutes, since 1997. Second, this wouldn’t be the first time that the State has used budget language to give itself greater spending discretion. The last time it happened led, over several years, to the deterioration of CMPTRA property tax relief. We need assurance that ETR property tax relief will not suffer the same decline.
Again–and especially if one of your State Legislators serves on the Assembly or Senate Budget Committees–please remind them of our concerns regarding the Administration’s proposed revisions to the Energy Tax Receipts Property Tax Relief Fund (ETR).
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481, Ext. 121.