MAHWAH, NJ — For the first time ever, the New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee public hearing was held at Ramapo College in Mahwah, a spokesperson confirmed.

“It is a historic day for Ramapo College to host the hearing,” Ramapo College Government Relations Officer Pat O’Connor said. “We hope to welcome the committee back for future hearings.”

This kicked off a series of hearings to discuss Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed $53.1 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2024, and was the first in-person public hearing since 2019, state and college officials said.

“I am grateful to Ramapo College for welcoming us to its beautiful campus for this hearing,” Committee Chair Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) said.

Budget Committee hearings — all of which will be accessible via the State Legislature’s website — will be held throughout the spring at the State House Annex in Trenton, according to the schedule.

A second public hearing will be conducted remotely on April 25, when oral testimony will be taken by telephone and video from those who register, an updated legislative calendar said.

The hearings follow Gov. Murphy’s budget address on Feb. 28 in which he outlined new investments in “expanding affordability, promoting fiscal responsibility, and creating opportunities.”

Murphy’s proposed budget, his office said, increases direct property tax relief; provides a high level of school funding; delivers a third-consecutive full pension payment; and supports investments in the economy, workforce development and public safety. Nearly 74% of the proposed budget would be redirected back out in the form of grants, and there is a “record surplus” of $10.1 billion.

“(The governor) has presented a quality proposal that we can work with,” Sen. Sarlo said in a news release announcing the hearing schedule. “We want to get direct input on how the state budget will be used to address the needs and priorities of the people of New Jersey.”

Source: Patch