Category: State Legislative/Budget Matters

NJ Legislative Budget Committees Receive Fiscal Updates

The Legislature received testimony regarding State revenues earlier this week. In separate appearances before the Assembly Budget Committee and the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, the State Treasurer and the Office of Legislative Services (OLS) testified regarding the revenue picture for the current fiscal year (FY 2017), and the anticipated revenues for the upcoming fiscal year (FY 2018). The OLS reported to the Committees that incoming revenues for FY 2017 are currently forecasted to be $228 million less than expected. However, the 2016 financial market rally and estimated tax payments by high-income earners suggest that FY 2017 revenues could push closer to the originally forecasted amounts. A more accurate revenue forecast will be available in May, after the April tax filing deadline passes. For FY 2018, both the Executive Branch and the OLS have similar projections for growth in the upcoming fiscal year. The Executive Branch anticipating growth that is only 0.6 percent higher than the OLS. While a small percentage amount, this still results in a difference of $212.9 million between the Executive Branch and OLS revenue estimates. The OLS Tax and Revenue Outlook can be accessed here. The State Treasurer’s testimony to the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees...

Governor Christie Presents the FY 2018 Budget

Earlier this week, Governor Christie announced his final State Budget to a joint session of the Legislature. The Governor’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget of $35.5 billion represents a 2.6 percent increase from the prior year. It assumes annual growth in the State’s major tax revenues (gross income tax, sales tax, and corporate business tax) and also reallocates funding between programs. The highlights of the FY 2018 Budget include: $17.4 billion in school and local aid, representing almost half of all State spending; A $2.5 billion contribution to the State pension system, with payments occurring quarterly; Cuts to most Executive Departments including Agriculture, Community Affairs, Corrections, Environmental Protection, Labor, Law and Public Safety, Military and Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Treasury; Funding increases to the Departments of Health and Human Services for the expansion of FamilyCare, opioid addiction treatment, and graduate medical education; $20 million appropriation for lead remediation assistance for low and moderate income households; Additional State health benefit reforms, saving the State $125 million in FY 2018; and A lump-sum contribution from the State Lottery system to the State’s pension system to reduce the existing unfunded liability. Governor Christie also proposed a supplemental appropriation in the current fiscal year of...

New Jersey Legislature Focuses on Drone Technology

The First Legislative District Economic Development Task Force (“Task Force”) will meet on February 23, 2017, to discuss unmanned aviation technology and the potential impact it could have on the Southern New Jersey region. The Task Force, established by the New Jersey Senate in 2014 and reauthorized in 2016, was charged with “identifying methods, policies, regulations, incentives, and tools to foster economic activity and create jobs in Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties.” To accomplish its work, the 11-member Task Force is composed of a broad cross-section of thought leaders from the political, educational, and economic spheres. Over the last three years, the Task Force has met multiple times and has studied several issues of importance to the region. It has also studied aquaculture development and educational initiatives to develop a more skillful workforce. Throughout their deliberations, the members of the Task Force have identified actions that will grow the workforce and position the region to attract and support innovation. As the home of the William J. Hughes Technical Center and Stockton University, Southern New Jersey is known for aviation innovation. The testimony received by the Task Force on February 23rd will highlight the potential assets of the region. This...

Governor Christie Delivers 2017 State of the State Address

On January 10, 2017, Governor Chris Christie delivered his State of the State address to a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature. The Governor concentrated his remarks on his accomplishments over the past seven years, and his goals for the final year of his Administration. The Governor noted that during his tenure, the State saw seven consecutive years of job creation, decreasing the unemployment rate from 9.8% to 5.0%. The collective size of State, county, and local government was reduced by 31,000 employees and Discretionary State spending is $2.3 billion less today than it was nine years ago. The State contributed $6.3 billion to the State pension system since the Governor took office, double the amount that has been contributed over the past sixteen years. Governor Christie also stated that 2017 will be the first year since 1996 that New Jersey residents will see broad-based tax cuts, including a reduction in the sales tax, the phase-out of the estate tax, increases in retirement income tax exclusions, and increases in the earned income tax credit.






Attorney-Client Protections Do Not Extend to Lawyers Providing Government Affairs Counseling in Non-Law Firm Settings

A December 10, 2015, joint decision from the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics and the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law (‘Committees’) provides clarity to lawyer-lobbyists working in non-law firm settings. Both Committees examined this issue after receiving an inquiry whether an attorney representing clients at a lobbying and government affairs services company that is not a law firm may use the designation “Esq.” after her name on company letterhead. The decision concludes that a lawyer may “associate with non-lawyers in lobbying and government affairs services companies, outside a law firm, provided the company communicates to their customers that they do not provide legal services or offer the protections of a lawyer-client relationship and the lawyers do not hold themselves out as acting in the capacity of lawyers.” The decision also directs attorneys, working in a non-legal setting, to not use the “Esquire” or “Esq.” designation. As part of its analysis, the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law determined that many of the activities associated with lobbying are the practice of law, but also determined that it is in the public interest to allow registered non-lawyers to provide these services as well. They felt that “potential harm was...