Members of Senate’s Fiscal Strategy Group Commend Governor & EDA for Acting on Plan to Provide PPE to Small Businesses

Trenton – The bipartisan Senate team of economic recovery strategists formed to help restart the state’s economy today praised Governor Murphy and the Economic Development Authority for following through on a plan to provide small businesses with access to Personal Protection Equipment so they can protect their workers and customers.

The EDA acted on a proposal today to create the “NJ Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program” that was presented by Senators Paul Sarlo, M. Teresa Ruiz, Steve Oroho and Troy Singleton in a “zoom meeting” with Tim Sullivan, the EDA’s CEO, and senior members of the Governor’s staff.

In the discussion, the senators emphasized the need for a procurement platform that offers economical and reliable access to PPE for the state’s smallest businesses, said Senator Sarlo, who chairs the bipartisan Task Force on Fiscal Recovery.

“While we have all faced daunting challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, small business owners and their employees have undoubtedly been hit the hardest. As we take steps toward recovery, it is important that we make sure these businesses are able to reopen and operate safely,” said Senator Sarlo (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The PPE Access Program is an important tool that will help us achieve these goals by ensuring small businesses are able to get the protective equipment they need to get back to work while keeping their employees and customers safe.”

“Access to personal protective equipment, and the cost associated with it, has been one of my biggest concerns since the onset of this pandemic. Our smallest businesses are struggling as it is, and while they work to outfit their employees with PPE, they’re all too often faced with shipping delays and exorbitant prices, compromising the safety of their employees and further stretching their already tight budgets,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “This marketplace will help ensure access to masks and other protective equipment by offering quicker turnaround times and more reasonable prices, protecting our businesses, their employees and their customers. I am glad the EDA listened to the Legislature and implemented this initiative.”

“Small businesses on Main Streets across New Jersey need access to stable supplies of affordable personal protective equipment to ensure the health and safety of their customers and employees,” said Senator Oroho (R-Sussex). “This new program from the EDA will help our local mom-and-pop shops to purchase the PPE they need at discounted rates. This will help them to comply with safety protocols that align with CDC guidelines, providing the opportunity to compete and thrive during this unprecedented crisis.”

“I applaud the EDA for working with us to create a program where we can help small businesses and nonprofits secure discounted PPE,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “As we work to rebuild our economy, we have to recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is still standing in our way. Without a vaccine or therapy, it will be in our lives for the foreseeable future. This is why it is imperative we assist small businesses and non-profits to procure discounted PPE from New Jersey-based manufacturers and local small distributors in order to protect workers, clients and customers. At the same time, we’re also supporting local companies who have struggled during the pandemic.”

The primary focus of the program is to ensure that small businesses and non-profits that need it most have access to the PPE they need to keep their workers and customers safe. It also includes grants to support the vendors’ purchases of PPE from New Jersey-based manufacturers and from small distributors located in traditionally underserved communities.


Sarlo-Cryan Bill Would Extend Grace Period for Tax Appeals

May 7, 2020 Press Office
  (609) 847-3700 

Trenton – Acting to provide homeowners with more time to appeal tax assessments because of the disruption of the COVID crisis, the Senate Budget Committee today approved legislation authored by the committee’s chairman, Senator Paul Sarlo, and Senator Joe Cryan that would lengthen the deadline by as much as three months. 

 The bill, S-2387, would temporarily change filing deadlines for most tax appeals to July 1 this year and would require county boards of taxation to make decisions on the appeals by September 30. A property’s tax assessment is based on its value as of October 1 of the prior year. The deadlines to file appeals fall between April 1 and May 1 for most types of appeals and county tax boards normally have until June 30 to render decisions.

“The COVID shutdown made it difficult, if not impossible, for many taxpayers to file their appeals by the deadlines which normally fall between April 1 and May 1, a period when many government offices were closed to visitors,” said Senator Sarlo (D-Bergen). “This will provide tax payers more time to file appeals and ensures that decisions will be rendered this year so that successful appellants can receive refunds this year. This is a temporary move in response to the crisis we are all experiencing.”

 The extension of the deadline to file an appeal of property tax assessments would be temporary only for tax year 2020.   

 “The extent and duration of the current public health emergency could mean that property tax appeals for the current tax year may not be resolved until 2021, which could create a backlog of appeals that may ultimately delay their resolution,” said Senator Cryan (D-Union). “This bill would establish a date certain for filing appeals so that residents and local officials can better manage their finances during these difficult times.”

The Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an Order on March 19 indefinitely extending all filing deadlines for 2020 tax year appeals to the New Jersey Tax Court and the county boards of taxation. However, the extension has caused concern among both tax payers and local officials that many appeals may not be resolved until 2021, which could create a backlog, delay refunds and negatively impact municipal budgets. The bill would take effect immediately upon enactment and apply retroactively to April 1, 2020.


Sarlo-Ruiz Bill Would Offer ‘Bridge Year’ to Students Losing Time to School Shutdown

May 7, 2020 Press Office
  (609) 847-3700 

Trenton – Students who are losing time crucial to their academic careers due to COVID-19 school closings would be offered the opportunity of a “bridge year,” under terms of legislation sponsored by Senator Paul Sarlo and Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz that was approved by the Senate Budget Committee today.

The bill, S-2383, would have the Commissioner of Education establish a three-year “Bridge Year Pilot Program” for students graduating high school in 2021 and 2022 and were impacted by public health state of emergency caused by coronavirus disease 2019.

“This year’s sophomores and juniors will miss learning time crucial to their future,” said Senator Sarlo, (D-Bergen). “The third and fourth marking periods were just ripped away from these kids. Losing in-person instruction for challenging college preparatory classes can negatively impact their grades and hurt their chances of being admitted to a more competitive college or receiving a scholarship.”  

While the plan could aid student athletes, Senator Sarlo said it is “academically driven” because it provides the opportunity to go to college as a non-matriculated student at a reduced rate to take courses that will prepare them for a four-year college, retake SATs to improve their scores and return to their high school to play a spring sport or participate in a school activity they missed out on this year.

“We understand this has been hard on students for a variety of reasons, and it is important we are taking into account all aspects of a student’s academic experiences when working to mitigate the impact of COVID-19,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “The sophomore and junior year are crucial to the college application process, unfortunately, students’ abilities to prepare for standardized tests and tour campuses have been deeply disrupted. The bridge year can provide students the opportunity to retake SATs and carefully consider their college decision while completing gen-ed courses and gaining valuable experience from high school extracurriculars. We hope to mirror the intent of this throughout K through 12, and will continue looking for innovative solutions to bridge the learning loss.”

The bridge year would benefit students by retaining eligibility for school activities important to career opportunities, such as drama clubs, filmmaking, foreign language clubs and intra-murals.  

At the county college, they would pay $145 per credit plus minimal lab fees. The credits would be transferable to any New Jersey public institution and to private or out-of-state schools that choose to accept them. Students pursuing a bridge year would be eligible for grants and scholarships under the tuition aid program or the NJSTARS program if they meet all other eligibility requirements.  

Under the proposal, students would only be able to play spring sports for the school they attended junior year and must meet the age participation requirements of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Association. They would have to declare for the bridge year before the beginning of the second semester of their senior year. 


Sarlo Announces Suspension of Budget Hearings

April 1, 2020   Press Office
    (609) 847-3700  

Budget Chair Will Sponsor Legislation With Senator Oroho Extended Tax Deadline & Lengthening Fiscal Year

TRENTON – Senator Paul Sarlo, the chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement today announcing the suspension of the committee’s hearings on the Fiscal Year 2021 state budget and plans for crafting a new “coronavirus crisis” budget:

“Following through on the agreement among the Governor and the Senate and Assembly leaders to extend the timetable of the current budget year, I am suspending the Fiscal Year 2021 public hearings previously planned for April through June until a new spending plan is developed over the summer months.

“The ongoing public health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic is creating severe financial hardship for the people of New Jersey as well as fiscal challenges for the state, including what will be historic and sudden declines in revenues.

“We don’t yet know the full dimensions of the financial consequences so the agreement to extend the current fiscal year to the end of September will give us a workable timetable to better understand our resources and craft a budget that addresses our critical needs.

“The work of the Senate Budget Committee will take on much greater importance and will confront us with more challenging financial realities. We will work together with the Governor and the Assembly to get through this crisis, to make the best use of all available resources and to put a spending plan in place that helps our residents.”

Senator Sarlo also said he will sponsor legislation with Senator Steve Oroho to extend the tax deadline and to lengthen the state fiscal year an additional three months. 

Sarlo-Singleton-Oroho Bill to Preserve Tax Deductibility Becomes Law

Trenton – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) and Steve Oroho (R-Sussex) to preserve the federal deductibility of an estimated $35 billion in state income taxes for New Jersey’s small businesses and partnerships was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy today.

The law, S-3246, will amend New Jersey’s state tax code to allow businesses to choose to revert to the system that was in place prior to 1993 under which S Corporations, Limited Liability Corporations (LLC’s) and other business partnerships directly paid the state income tax liability of their owners and partners.

“We decided to go ‘Back to the Future’ with a cost-saving solution,” said Senator Sarlo, chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. “This law doesn’t solve the whole problem created by a federal tax law that targets New Jersey by sharply curtailing the federal deduction for State and Local Taxes. But we are going to do everything we can to help New Jersey taxpayers.”

The law will potentially save billions of dollars for the 80 percent of New Jersey’s small businesses that are registered as S Corporations and pay their corporate taxes through the state income tax, as well as all of the law firms, medical groups, accounting practices and other partnerships that were created as Limited Liability Corporations.

“Now more than ever, ‘mom and pop’ business owners need laws that provide tax fairness and don’t negatively impact their bottom line,” said Senator Singleton. “This law will help to defray the out-of-pocket income tax hit for small business owners here in New Jersey and help alleviate the inequities created by the federal tax law.”

The senators said they worked on the plan with assistance from the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants and its executive director, Ralph Thomas.

Based on the most recent IRS statistics, more than 300,000 individuals and families in New Jersey reported $35 billion in S Corporation and partnership income in 2015 that would no longer be tax-deductible under the federal tax law if paid on individual income taxes, but would be deductible if New Jersey returned to the previous entity-level system of taxation.

Connect with the Senate Democrats:


via NJ Senate Democrats

Sent To Governor after Senate Concurrence with Assembly Amendments 

TRENTON – The Senate today approved reform legislation authored by Senate Budget Chair Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) that will require real-time auditing of billions of dollars in state health insurance claims to prevent overpayments.

The bill, S-3042, also will provide the state with full access to healthcare claims data that the state’s health insurers has withheld as proprietary – data that the state needs to build its own database to analyze healthcare costs and develop future savings.

“This legislation will provide significant cost savings on healthcare costs by assuring real time auditing of the billions of dollars we pay out in claims every year for current and retired teachers and state, county and municipal government employees, and it will do so while providing savings both to public employees and to taxpayers,” said Senator Sarlo.

Previously approved by the Senate, today’s vote concurred with Assembly amendments.  The measure now goes to the governor.

“I have been pushing for a bifurcated system with an independent Third Party Administrator that would clearly separate the claims adjudication process from the health insurance provider network. This is the system that was recommended by the bipartisan Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup that I co-chaired and by the Governor’s task force on healthcare reform. The Administration, however, was only willing to go as far as a real-time third party audit, so that is what we did.”

By gaining full access to claims data that the health insurance provider networks had previously deemed proprietary, the state government will have a chance to fully analyze the principal drivers of healthcare costs and create a better plan design that will provide cost savings year after year.

“One of the most important provisions of this bill is that it will guarantee that the state will have ownership and access to all health insurance claims data,” Senator Sarlo said. “As both Treasury and the public employee unions have recognized, this data is vital to analyzing healthcare costs and redesigning our public employee and retiree healthcare system in future years to maximize savings.”

The legislation is patterned after the Pharmacy Benefits Manager program that the Legislature created in 2016 that saved hundreds of millions of dollars by providing real -time auditing of pharmaceutical bills.

The vote was 36-1.


via NJ Senate Democrats

Trenton – Students from underserved communities that are underrepresented in STEM fields would be provided with greater educational opportunities to prepare themselves for New Jersey’s innovation economy through a new program created by legislation authored by Senator Paul Sarlo and Senator Troy Singleton that was approved by the Senate today.

The bill, S-3685, would create the “ACES” scholarship program to broaden opportunities by “Accessing Careers in Engineering and Science.”

“Expanding opportunities for underserved students to gain the knowledge and skills in science and technology will help advance New Jersey’s innovation economy,” said Senator Sarlo, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee. “The ACES program will provide exposure to science and technology disciplines with an emphasis on hands-on experience. It will open doors of opportunity where they can excel.”

The innovative program would be modelled after a successful effort at the Stevens Institute of Technology. In its first year, Stevens experienced a 60 percent increase in underrepresented minority participation in precollege STEM summer programs.

“Exposure to the sciences and technology through STEM programs will set this generation up for success in the future,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “However, we must ensure that this opportunity exists for all of our students, especially those who have been traditionally underrepresented in this field. By creating the ACES program for these high school students, we are expanding their access to the innovation economy.”

Students who participate would be required to be a member of an underserved community or a member of a group that is underrepresented in the STEM fields. An initial investment of $750,000 and rising to $2.5 million annually after four years, matched with institution and private sector funding, the program would produce 200 high school students and 100 college graduates per year.

The ACES Program would consist of a residential pre-college summer program for selected high school students who attend a partner high school and an undergraduate ACES Scholar program.

Under the bill, the Secretary of Higher Education would select up to seven public or independent research universities in New Jersey.

The bill was approved by the Senate with a vote of 37-0.

Sarlo: NJ Transit Funding Increase Should Be Well Planned, Put an End to ‘Diversion Funding’

May 10, 2019, 5:00 pm | in

Sarlo: NJ Transit Funding Increase Should Be Well Planned, Put an End to ‘Diversion Funding’

TRENTON – Senator Paul Sarlo, the chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, said today that he will work with transportation officials and legislative leaders on well planned ways to provide increased support for NJ Transit, but supports the efforts to end the “diversion funding” that has shifted money intended for other transportation purposes to shore up Transit’s budget.

“If NJ Transit needs more state funding to improve its service and make capital improvements, the Transportation Commissioner should work with legislative leaders on a plan for a dedicated source of funding that makes sure the money is used effectively,” said Senator Sarlo, the chair of the budget committee and authored the renewed Transportation Trust Fund. “I support the administration’s request for an additional $25 million but I also applaud them for phasing out the practice of diverting money from the New Jersey Turnpike. It’s a bad habit that shortchanges other transportation needs and leaves NJ Transit with unpredictable funding.”

Senator Sarlo, an engineer with decades of experience in the transportation construction industry, has long been an outspoken opponent of diverting money from different state transportation agencies. The Transportation Commissioner, who also chairs the boards of NJ Transit and the Turnpike Authority, said the road agency needs the money after years of diversions.

“There is no appetite for any tax increase this year, but if revenue growth produces enough additional funding we can consider more aid for NJ Transit,” said Senator Sarlo. “Beyond that, I urge the Commissioner of Transportation to work with legislative leaders over the next two years to develop a legislatively dedicated funding source for NJ Transit, even if that requires dedicating it from another transportation source.”

Now is the time to expand NJ’s medical cannabis program | Opinion


New Jersey has had a medical marijuana program in place since 2010, but up until recently it was not as expansive as it should be in order to be available to those in need. While over the past 18 months the medical cannabis program has more than doubled, offering relief to New Jerseyans fighting cancer, suffering from epilepsy and PTSD, and living with various other health conditions, we need to do more.

The Murphy administration has made significant strides, but it cannot do it alone and it can’t be fully accomplished by administrative or executive actions. If the program is going to continue to grow and improve the quality of life for patients across the state, it should be expanded through statute. The Legislature can and should act to advance this industry in the state with legislation that would expand the program; we should not tie its fate to the recreational marijuana bill.

We should move forward with the bill that would expand the medical marijuana program so that its full potential can be realized while the debate and discussion about legalizing adult-use cannabis continues. Although I personally have not been convinced that recreational marijuana is right for our state today, I am convinced that there is enough support in the Legislature for legislation to expand the medical marijuana program on its own merit.

NJ Health Commissioner, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, speaks

NJ Health Commissioner, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, speaks at Hackensack University Medical Center about medical marijuana. Wednesday, July 11, 2018 (Photo: Kevin R. Wexler/

Medical cannabis has the potential to transform the way we treat physical and mental illness. Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for more than 3,000 years, and there is a growing body of scientific research documenting its safety and effectiveness. It has been found to be a beneficial course of treatment for a long list of medical problems, especially for long-term or lifelong illnesses. For people suffering from chronic pain, cannabis offers relief without the negative side effects or highly addictive properties of opioids. Allowing cannabis as an alternative pain reliever could help address the opioid crisis in the state.

We must ensure that patients’ access is not hindered by unreasonably long processing times and that we are open to adding new eligible conditions as credible research arises. Ensuring ease of access for those prescribed medical cannabis is crucial. Dispensaries closely monitor the quantities and strains given to patients, making sure the product is being used as intended and providing the intended result. Controlling these factors is key to cannabis functioning as an effective form of treatment.

Paul Sarlo

Paul Sarlo (Photo: Mitsu Yasukawa/Staff photographer)

Some argue that there is not enough research on the negative and positive effects of medical cannabis, but there is little opportunity for doctors to engage in cannabis research because of state and federal laws. Allowing clinical research in the state of New Jersey has the potential to put us at the forefront, drawing doctors from up and down the East Coast to our state. We have some of the best institutions of higher education in the country; we should allow their medical students to engage in this groundbreaking research.

The medical marijuana bill under consideration allows physicians and other health care providers to prescribe cannabis for any diagnosed condition, not just those already prescribed by law or state policy. It would also expand access to designated caregivers, including those in hospitals or nursing homes, substantially increase the amount patients could obtain, allow terminally ill patients unlimited amounts and provide new legal protections for participants. The bill would allow physician assistants and advanced practice nurses to authorize patients for medical cannabis.

For the cancer patient struggling to eat, for the terminally ill in constant pain, for all those suffering with conditions cannabis can help, we must make this program the best it can possibly be — and this can only be fully realized through legislation.

Paul Sarlo, a Democrat, represents the 36th Legislative District in the New Jersey state Senate, where he is the deputy majority leader and chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee.


TRENTON – Senator Paul Sarlo, the chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement today after the committee heard from the Office of Legislative Services and the State Treasurer on the fiscal and economic conditions that will shape the state’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget plan:

“This is a pivotal time for public finances in New Jersey, which makes our work on the state budget as important as ever. We face both immediate and long-term fiscal challenges that can no longer be ignored or deferred.

“There are structural financial problems that, left unaddressed, threaten to choke-off our ability to support vital services and invest in future opportunities. We can make real and lasting progress on these challenges in the upcoming budget by making cost-cutting reforms that will produce substantial savings and efficiencies.

“Current economic conditions present us with a high degree of uncertainty for state revenues, especially for the volatile and unpredictable income tax. The shortfall of income tax revenue, coupled with a reliance on a surge in April, present us with unknown economic factors that can’t be ignored. We don’t want a hoped-for ‘April surprise’ to become a springtime disappointment.

“I am also concerned that we are not prepared for a recession or even a substantial economic slowdown. A sizeable surplus will help, but the millionaires’ tax could make economic and fiscal conditions worse. An added surcharge on high income earners going into an economic slowdown is unreliable and likely counterproductive.

“The Governor has given us a budget plan that we can work with and I welcome his willingness to work cooperatively with the Legislature, including additional cost saving measures. It is now the Legislature’s responsibility to give the proposal a thorough review and put in place a fiscally responsible budget for the upcoming year.”