Governor Murphy Signs FY 2021 Budget Into Law, Protecting Crucial Services and Programs During COVID-19 Pandemic
Governor Phil Murphy signed the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021) Appropriations Act into law, working together with Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Coughlin, and legislative leadership to enact a revised spending plan that manages to protect core priorities and deliver middle-class tax relief during the historic fiscal crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget plan also fully reestablishes the millionaires tax that expired in 2010, instituting the existing 10.75% rate on income over $5 million to income earned over $1 million.
“As we continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic, building a stronger New Jersey requires us to continue to bolster the middle-class families who are the backbone of our state,” said Governor Murphy. “This revised budget not only recognizes the realities of the pandemic, offering much-needed tax fairness, including tax relief to the middle class, but also maintains our core principles so that we can emerge from this crisis stronger, fairer, and more resilient.”
Governor Murphy originally laid out his FY 2021 budget proposal on February 25, 2020. Less than two weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic took root, ravaging New Jersey from both a public health and an economic standpoint. The crisis prompted the State to follow the federal government in moving important April tax filing deadlines to July and extending the fiscal year from the traditional June 30th end date to September 30th. As a result, the budget signed today addresses spending for only the nine-month period from October 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.
Reproductive Freedom Act Aims to Protect and Expand Health Care Access in New Jersey
As politicians in other states race to push reproductive health care out of reach, Governor Phil Murphy and legislative leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, are stepping up to protect reproductive freedom and remove barriers to access for all people who need care. During an announcement event, the Governor announced that lawmakers will introduce the Reproductive Freedom Act, proactive legislation that will help protect and expand New Jerseyans’ ability to receive reproductive health care, such as birth control, and pregnancy-related care, including abortion.
“As access to health care and the right to choose are under attack at the federal level, we will support, defend, and protect reproductive rights here in New Jersey,” said Governor Murphy. “The Reproductive Freedom Act will remove barriers to reproductive health, as well as expand access to contraception while reaffirming choice. Together, we stand unwavering in our commitment to work towards reproductive freedom for all New Jerseyans.”
Governor Murphy Expands Earned Income Tax Credit Eligibility to 60,000 More New Jersey Residents; Credit Also Increases to 40 Percent of Federal Credit Under New Budget
With the signing of the Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations Act, the Murphy Administration extended a critical lifeline to an additional 60,000 New Jersey residents by expanding the minimum age of eligibility for the New Jersey Earned Income Tax Credit (NJEITC) from 25 years of age to 21.
The EITC is considered one of the most effective tools for supporting working families and lifting people out of poverty. Additionally, the FY 2021 budget also boosts the amount of the NJEITC to 40 percent of the federal credit, completing the third of three phased-in increases under a 2018 law signed by Governor Phil Murphy. This latest increase will put an average of $882 back into taxpayers’ pockets.
Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Excluding Combat Pay from Gross Income Taxation
Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (S2050) to exclude combat pay from gross taxable income under the New Jersey income tax. New Jersey is the only state currently taxing combat pay, which is also untaxed by the federal government.
“Members of the military put everything on the line for our state and our country.” said Governor Murphy. “I am happy and proud that, even in the midst of our state’s most serious fiscal crisis, we were able to find a way to make life easier for our troops and provide some long-overdue relief to the bravest among us.”
“All distractions when deployed reduce combat effectiveness. This is a positive action that will pay dividends for our women and men in combat,” said Maj. Gen. Jemal J. Beale, The Adjutant General of New Jersey and Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Governor Murphy and Governor Cuomo Launch Exposure Notification Apps to Help Stop the Spread of Covid-19
Governor Phil Murphy and New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the launch of COVID-19 exposure notification mobile apps in their respective states that will serve as crucial tools to supplement the effort to trace and contact individuals subject to a COVID exposure. The apps, COVID Alert NJ and COVID Alert NY, notify users of potential COVID-19 exposure while maintaining user privacy and security. New Jersey and New York join Pennsylvania and Delaware in creating a regional COVID Alert app network that operates across state lines to stop the spread of COVID-19. Connecticut has also announced it will launch an app in the near future using the same technology.
The free mobile apps–available to anyone 18 or older who lives, works, or attends college in New Jersey or New York — are available for download from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
“Over the course of our public health emergency, we’ve called for a shared sense of personal responsibility to support our contact tracing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Murphy. “With the launch of COVID Alert NJ and our regional app network, New Jerseyans and residents in our neighboring states can support our fight against COVID-19 simply by downloading an application on their phone. The app is free and secure, and your identity, personally identifying information, and location will never be collected. The more phones that have the app, the better we can fight this pandemic.”
"We have a very exciting announcement that has taken a lot of work and it's really creative and smart and I think it can make a big difference. This is a technology-based contact tracing app. Testing is only as good as your contact tracing," said Governor Cuomo. "Testing is to identify a person, so you can isolate and quarantine that person and then find the connections from that person, and that's contact tracing. We have about 15,000 people statewide who do contact tracing, they call them disease detectives. But we've been looking for a technology-based solution. And today, we are announcing an app that you can download for free from the app store called COVID Alert NY."