As lawmakers start to work on a new state budget in Trenton, they’re facing the challenge of having to predict how well the New Jersey economy will be performing, not just in a few months, but more than a year from now. While everyone wants to see more economic growth, figuring out the best way to reach that goal has become a top issue in this year’s budget debate.
Framing the discussion so far is Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who is seeking to create a virtuous circle of growth and investment through a series of proposed tax hikes that would generate the revenue needed to pay for new spending in key areas that are believed to influence economic expansion, like public education and transportation.
But not everyone is fully embracing that view, including some leading members of the governor’s own party. Instead, they seem to be hoping there’s already enough momentum building in the state economy to generate the revenue needed to pay for new spending without having to make any major tax-policy changes. Meanwhile, representatives of the state’s business community are weighing in with their own economic suggestions. They maintain the proposed tax hikes, and a host of other economic policies like the establishment of a $15 minimum wage, could influence future business investment and the overall state economy.