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 $400 million for the State’s transportation system, to be allocated within the next 100 days. This supplemental appropriation would address bridge deficiencies, road repairs, and infrastructure improvements for New Jersey Transit. Lastly, the Governor challenged the Legislature to come up with a new school funding formula within the next 100 days which provides “fairness” to all school districts.