AARP New Jersey Applauds Governor Murphy and NJ Legislature for a FY 2022 State Budget that Benefits Older Workers and Retirees
Statement from Evelyn Liebman, AARP New Jersey Director of Advocacy
NEW BRUNSWICK (June 29, 2021) - “On behalf of AARP’s more than 1 million Garden State members – and all New Jerseyans – AARP New Jersey applauds Governor Murphy and the NJ Legislature for enacting a Fiscal Year 2022 state budget that protects and improves older New Jerseyans’ health and financial security, particularly as the Garden State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the face of the pandemic, now more than ever, the state budget is vital to the interests of our members and all New Jerseyans. This budget will help all New Jerseyans have a brighter and more secure financial future.
“The FY ‘22 state budget includes AARP priorities that we have advocated for to improve the financial security of New Jersey’s 50+ population, including the elimination of the age cap on New Jersey’s Earned Income Tax Credit program (NJ EITC), which will benefit about 70,000 workers. The NJ EITC is one of the state’s most effective anti-poverty programs. Currently, the program is not available to workers over the age of 64 – despite our workforce getting older and working longer. With the FY ‘22 budget, which takes effect July 1, workers 65 and older can benefit from the NJ EITC and the increased financial security it provides.
“New Jerseyans, particularly older residents and those with disabilities living on low-, moderate- and fixed-incomes, have always struggled with New Jersey’s high property taxes. The Homestead Benefit program has provided much-needed property tax relief for an estimated 500,000 homeowners; however, the credit is outdated and still calculated on 2006 tax bills. The new state budget will fully fund the Homestead Benefit program and update the program so benefits are based on 2017 property tax information, which is the most current program year. Fully funding the Homestead Benefit will help residents confront the 40% rise in property taxes over the past 15 years and help residents age in place, where they want to be.
“Financial security in retirement is a core component of AARP’s mission to enhance the quality of life for all as we age, including for generations to come. AARP fights at both the federal and state level to ensure that all workers who have paid into their public pension systems over a lifetime of hard work have the economic security that their pensions afford in retirement. We commend the Governor and NJ Legislature for fully funding the public pension system for the first time since 1996. Full funding is important to ensure the financial security of about 800,000 New Jersey households and improve the overall health of the system, serving the interests of all taxpayers.
“The FY ’22 state budget also expands New Jersey’s retirement income state tax exclusion, which is estimated to help 70,000 New Jersey families. Under current law, anyone who earns even $1 above the $100,000 income threshold can not exclude any of their retirement income. Under the new budget, this cliff will be eliminated, increasing the income exclusion threshold to $150,000 and allowing certain deductions for those with income between $100,000 to $150,000.
“We are pleased the state budget includes funds to start up the New Jersey Secure Choice Savings Program. In 2019, Governor Murphy enacted Secure Choice, which is a public-private partnership that will allow many of the 1.7 million private sector hardworking New Jerseyans who currently do not have a way to save for retirement at work, an affordable, voluntary and portable retirement savings plan that puts them in control of their futures. Under the statute, the program is set to open its doors in March 2022.
“We applaud the income eligibility expansion of New Jersey’s Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) and Senior Gold programs, which allows 20,000 additional seniors to qualify for this critical assistance. Residents of all ages depend on their prescriptions, and no one should have to choose between food, medicine or rent. Prescription drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them. This extension will also expand eligibility for critical utility assistance programs for those most in need.
“This year, New Jersey created the Age-Friendly State Advisory Council in the Department of Human Services and became the ninth state in the country to join AARP’s network of Age Friendly States and Communities. By 2030, one out of every five people in the U.S. will be 65 or older. New Jersey’s economic and social policies must put the infrastructure in place to meet the needs of our changing demographic and recognize the critical contributions the 50+ make to our economy. We applaud the $50,000 appropriation in the FY ’22 budget to move New Jersey’s age-friendly work forward.
“AARP New Jersey will never stop fighting for the health and financial security of all New Jerseyans. We look forward to working with the Administration as the FY ‘22 budget goes into effect.
About AARP New Jersey
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. AARP New Jersey educates and advocates on behalf of those 50 and older on issues that are important to them, their families and to all Garden State residents. The organization works to strengthen New Jersey communities with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/nj or follow @AARPNJ on social media.