Advocacy E-News March 2, 2020


Governor Phil Murphy presented his Fiscal Year 2021 (FY2021) budget on February twenty-fifth. The Governor is proposing a budget of $40.9 billion of which 29.3 percent of the total, is used by State government to purchase services that directly benefit residents in need. These services, which include health care coverage for low-income residents and community-based support for those with disabilities, are categorized as Grants-In-Aid and total $12 billion. The proposed budget increases overall spending by more than 5% compared with the plan he put forward last year and once again raising marginal income tax rates on the wealthy.

Governor Murphy’s budget invests at least $45 million in the Children’s System of Care to rebalance out of home and in-community service rates for the first time in 15 years so that children with emotional and behavioral health care needs can be better served. This budget also proposes using funds to increase the number of residencies for training psychiatrists and to pilot a program through the Mental Health Advisory Committee that supports justice system-involved individuals with mental health conditions. It also invests in reducing behavioral health facilities licensure backlogs to ensure access to important treatment and services.

The Governor will maintain his $100 million commitment, now through over 30 programs across eight state agencies, to fighting the opioid crisis. This year the administration will increase rates for Substance Use Disorder Long-Term Residential Services and Integrated Care Management Services.

The FY2021 budget include $20 million for Keeping Families Together, which is now the nation’s largest supportive housing program for child welfare-involved families. It will also maintain the Attorney General’s Operation Helping Hands in all 21 counties, and continue to increase the availability of medication-assisted treatment—including $12 million for Office Based Addiction Treatment and funding for naloxone for law enforcement, public libraries, and homeless shelters.

Although the budget currently lacks details on how this will affect providers of mental health services the budget language proposes nearly $65 million “to support increases to the minimum wage for employees at subsidized child care facilities and those who serve the elderly and adults with mental illnesses or intellectual/developmental disabilities”.

In the area of housing the budget proposes the continuing use of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund for its intended purpose and allocating at least $60 million to fund affordable housing and an additional $2.5 million for Prevention of Homelessness grants for a total of $6.8 million.

This budget funds the Governor’s new Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency, which will advance strategies to help consumers and create health care savings. The Office will support the Governor’s proposal to raise the income threshold by $10,000 for the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled program and Senior Gold programs, which will benefit over 21,000 seniors. The Governor will also propose creating a state-level health insurer assessment to reclaim revenue previously sent to the federal government. The administration will direct at least $200 million in revenue toward subsidies in 2021 for New Jerseyans purchasing health insurance.

The Governor proposes applying the millionaire’s tax enacted in FY2019 to all income above $1 million, not just income over $5 million. This expansion, which will impact more non-New Jersey residents than in-state residents, is necessary to enable greater investment in programs.

New Jersey government could collect an additional $400 million annually under a trio of new revenue-raisers Gov. Phil Murphy proposed to help fund various health-related programs as part of nearly $41 billion state spending plan he outlined Tuesday.

The governor calls for increasing the cigarette tax by more than 60% to match the rate now in place in New York and Connecticut — among the highest in the nation — to raise nearly $216 million more over the coming year. The Legislature must approve a state budget by July 1.

Murphy also advocates for a new “corporate responsibility fee” to bring in nearly $181 million from large companies with more than 50 employees covered under the public Medicaid plan, instead of employer-sponsored health insurance. And he wants to institute a tax on opioid manufacturers to generate another $20 million, something at least 10 other states have now done. The governor introduced similar concepts in last year’s budget proposal, but the measures failed to gain traction in the legislature.