Gov. Phil Murphy declined to outright reject a proposed increase to the state’s corporate business tax for the highest-earning companies in New Jersey in order to fund NJ Transit.
Legislative leadership has put forward the corporate business tax increase as a means to fund the cash-strapped agency from year to year, arguing that the windfall many businesses enjoyed from the 2017 federal tax breaks could become a long-term source of revenue for it.
The governor has remained skeptical that the dollars from such a revenue source could be unreliable.
But his Thursday comments, at an unrelated event at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., he stayed clear of outright rejection, saying just that “it’s too early to tell” whether any proposal works best.
“The notion of funding, recurring, reliable revenues, and specifically in NJ Transit, is something that we’re absolutely all in for,” Murphy said, hours before he headlined the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce‘s 83rd annual Walk to Washington dinner.
“I think it’s too early to hang our hat on anything,” the governor added.
His administration argued that the unexpected surges from the CBT come from companies deliberating overpaying their taxes as they warily eye the long-term effects of the Trump tax breaks.
Under the $500 million funding plan – introduced by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, earlier this month, the state would extend the 2.5 percent CBT surtax on top of the 9 percent rate, rather than let it fall to 1.5 percent for two years before sunsetting
NJ Transit has been hounded by budget shortfalls – relying frequently on dollars meant for long-term upgrades in order to keep on the lights – and multiple fare increases under the Christie administration.
The budget also calls for $129 million diverted from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and $82 million from the Clean Energy Fund, practices which the governor has promised to end.