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New Jersey is comprised of the state government with an executive branch headed by the governor; a legislature of a 40-member Senate and 80-member General Assembly; and a judiciary with the highest court the Supreme Court of seven justices headed by the chief justice. There are 21 counties and 565 municipalities; unlike some states, New Jersey has no unincorporated areas and municipalities cover its entire geographic area. Most school districts are formed to serve individual municipalities, but there are also regional, consolidated and countywide districts, as well as non-operating school districts which do not operate any school facilities but administer sending-receiving relationships under which students attend school in other districts under contractual agreements.
- State Constitution
New Jersey's current state constitution was adopted in 1947 and is the third constitution following those adopted in 1776 and 1844. The primary reasons for adopting the 1947 constitution were to strengthen the role of the governor; consolidate state executive agencies; and restructure the courts under the central administration of the state Supreme Court and its chief justice.
The constitution may be amended by approval of a majority of voters at a general election after both houses of the legislature have voted to place the proposed amendment on the ballot. A proposed amendment for submission to the voters can be passed either by simple majority in two separate legislative sessions, or by a 60% supermajority vote taken in one session. The governor's approval is not required for submission of the question for voter consideration. Unlike several states, New Jersey does not allow proposed constitutional amendments to be submitted for referendum through petition by voters without prior approval by the legislature.
* New Jersey State Constitution of 1947, NJ State Archives
* Proceedings of the 1947 Constitutional Convention, NJ State Library
* The New Jersey State Constitution by Robert F. Williams (2012)
* New Jersey State Constitutions 1776, 1844 and 1947, NJ State Archives
-- Government employees
According to the US Census Bureau's most recent American Community Survey conducted in 2016, New Jersey had a total of 430,129 full-time state, county and local government employees with a total payroll of $2.6 billion, with over half of the total government employees in education. In 2017, the state had 14.9% of its total workforce employed in government jobs, ranking 35th of all states.
* American Community Survey, US Census Bureau
* Public Sector Jobs: States where the most people work for government, 6/1/2018, USA Today
-- Government Revenue, Spending, Workforce and Debt
Total New Jersey state government revenue anticipated in fiscal year 2023 (7/1/2022-6/30/2023) was estimated at $31.7 billion, with the largest sources of tax revenue the income tax ($18.1 billion), the sales tax ($13.2 billion); the corporation business tax ($5 billion) and casino gambling ($425 million). Total state spending was projected at $48.9 billion, comprised of $35.6 billion in state aid and grants; $10.2 billion in state government operations; and $1.9 billion in capital construction.The budget for the state government approved for the fiscal year commencing July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022, was a record $46.4 billion. some $6 billion more than the prior year. By the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2023, total fund balance for General State Funds, including designated fund balances, was estimated to be $7 billion. The total state-funded workforce for fiscal 2023 was estimated at 43,034, including executive departments (35,455); judiciary (7,090) and legislature (442). New Jersey's State and Local Government Total Spending ranked by: percent of Gross Domestic Product ranked 25th highest of all states in fiscal 2023 at 10.13% of GDP, compared to the average of all states at 9.77%. The spending total ranked seventh of all states, behind California; New York; Texas; Pennsylvania; Ohio; and Florida.
Total debt of the state government and state authorities as of June 30, 2021, was $248.6 billion, according to the most recent sttae report issued in July 2022, with $67.2 billion at the state government level and $47.2 billion by local government. The largest programs are for education and health care
Local government spending was projected 125.8 billion New Jersey is the fourth-highest among all states in the level of gross tax-supported debt, behind California, New York and Massachusetts. New Jersey also ranked fourth-highest in per-capita debt, behind Connecticut, Massachusetts and Hawaii, and fourth-highest in debt as a percentage of gross-domestic product, behind Connecticut, Hawaii and Massachusetts
The U.S. federal government collected revenues during the federal fiscal year 2019 (starting on October 1 2018 and ending September 30 2020 of the following year) of $4.45 trillion, with federal government spending for fiscal 2020 estimated at $4.746 trillion. New Jersey was projected to recive $2.38 billion in net federal funding compared to thae average for all states and the District of Columbia of $3.2 billion.
New Jersey is the fourth-highest among all states in the level of gross tax-supported debt, behind California, New York and Massachusetts. New Jersey also ranked fourth-highest in per-capita debt, behind Connecticut, Massachusetts and Hawaii, and fourth-highest in debt as a percentage of gross-domestic product, behind Connecticut, Hawaii and Massachusetts. New Jersey also has one of the worst bond ratings of any state, with bonded debt and the state’s large unfunded pension liability routinely cited as important factors by credit analysts. The overall total for both bonded and nonbonded debt is well above $200 billion, roughly five times the size of the state’s annual budget. The most recent annual report on borrowing indicated the state’s total for bonded debt was just over $44 billion at the end of the 2020 fiscal year, up nearly 14% from a decade ago.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic that resulted in the sharp reduction of economic activity in 2020, Governor Murphy successfully advocated for approval of $4 billion in new borrowing to deal with the expected shortfall in state revenues, but in fact revenues remained stable throughout the crisis. Proceeds from the state income tax—the budget’s largest source of revenue—were up more than $3 billion through the end of the 2021 fiscal year, after Governor Murphy and lawmakers increased taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents making over $1 million, in both 2018 and 2020. The state's fiscal situation also was enhanced by an infusion of federal funds related to the COVID-19 shutdowns.
* Governor's Budget Message, Fiscal 2023 (7/1/2022-6/30/2023)
* State of New Jersey Debt Report, Fiscal Year 2021, NJ Department of Treasury
The overall tax burden (taxes as a percentage of personal income) on New Jersey residents was 9.88% in 2020, ranking 9th highest of all states and led by the 12.28% in New York, according to the annual survey published by WalletHub.com. The state ranked third of all states, however, in its property tax burden with 5.05%, behind only New Hampshire (5.45%) and Vermont (5.12%). The statewide average property tax in 2021 was t$9,284, according to official data from the Department of Community Affairs, an increase of $172 or 1.9% over 2020.
The nonprofit Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index ranked New Jersey as having the worst business tax climate of all states in 2023, stating that it "... is hampered by some of the highest property tax burdens in the country, has the highest-rate corporate income taxes in the county, and has one of the highest-rate individual income taxes. Additionally, the state has a particularly aggressive treatment of international income, levies an inheritance tax, and maintains some of the nation’s worst-structured individual income taxes."
* Facts and Figures 2020: How Does Your State Compare?, Tax Foundation
* Overall Tax Burden by State 2020, WalletHub.com
* 2023 State Business Tax Climate Index, Tax Foundation
* Which states have the highest and lowest property taxes?, 5/20/2019, USA Today
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