Published: May 18, 2022

New Jersey governor backs Baker on sports betting, both push tax relief

Gov. Charlie Baker had some small reason to celebrate this week, when a Democrat from Massachusetts went on record saying he hoped tax relief would occur before the end of June.

Unfortunately, the Democrat in question happens to be a resident of New Jersey and its current governor.

“We’re experiencing the same thing. I think all American states have revenue exceeding expectations right now,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday when asked about his tax cut proposal.

Murphy, a Needham High graduate, along with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, joined Baker in Boston that morning for a conference on STEM education.

Following the conference, the governors took questions from reporters, when both Baker — also a Needham High grad — and Murphy were asked about tax cuts currently pending before their respective state legislatures.

Baker, in January, asked the legislature to consider $700 million in tax cuts for renters, seniors and low income residents, as well as cuts to the capital gains and estate taxes.

Murphy has sent his state’s assembly a tax cut proposal focused primarily on property tax relief.

“Our budget is due on June 30, I think folks should expect a historic level of property tax relief and reduction,” Murphy said.

Both governors have seen record tax revenues this year. Baker pointed out the April tax revenue in Massachusetts — $2 billion over expectations — would easily cover the cost of his proposed tax break multiple times over.

The state’s Senate will meet Tuesday to begin debate on their version of the budget. Republican Minority Leader Sen. Bruce Tarr has offered amendments which would see a version of Baker’s tax cuts added to the budget.

Murphy was also asked if he had any advice for Baker with regards to sports betting, which has been a boon for the New Jersey economy but has remained forbidden under Massachusetts law.

The state’s two legislative chambers are currently attempting to work out the differences between separate proposals, the most obvious divergence between them concerning the legality of betting on college sports.

“It’s been a home run,” Murphy said of sports betting in New Jersey.

It isn’t even a matter of revenue, he said, though it does generate a bit of that. It’s more a matter of jobs. Betting online is a financially and technically complicated process, once which requires talent in those fields. Baker concurred.

“I certainly hope between now and the end of the session we have a chance to sign a sports betting bill, and compete with our colleagues in the other states on what, for all intents and purposes, is in fact a fin-tech industry with a lot of jobs and opportunity attached,” he said.

“It occurs to me I should have said I don’t think you should do it,” Murphy responded.

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