Gov. Christie spent much time during his Tuesday budget address talking about the income tax, but the governor is missing the point. In doing so, he’s showing how far out-of-touch he is with middle-class and poor New Jerseyans struggling each and every day to make ends meet in Chris Christie’s New Jersey.
For the middle-class and the poor, and for the senior citizens and the disabled, it’s all about the tax without a conscience – the property tax
That’s why New Jersey Democrats will be steering the conversation back in the right direction by focusing on middle-class property tax relief and helping working class families who have unfairly shouldered so much of the burden under Gov. Christie.
The bottom line is that the governor’s budget plan is just more of the same – tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the middle-class.
Gov. Christie just doesn’t get it. His zeal for tax breaks for the wealthy while middle-class families struggle with the highest property taxes in the nation is wrong. He has essentially proclaimed “Mission Accomplished” even though property taxes have risen a net 20.4 percent since he took office. The only thing missing is the flight suit and aircraft carrier.
Think about it. The governor is proclaiming a New Jersey comeback despite a recent analysis that found the average homeowner now paying $7,519 in net property taxes compared to $6,244 in 2009. There’s the 20.4 percent property tax hike since Gov. Christie took office.
Combine that with 9 percent unemployment in New Jersey – while it’s 8.2 percent in Connecticut, 8 percent in New York, 7.6 percent in Pennsylvania and 7.4 percent in Delaware - and one has to wonder how the governor defines the word “comeback.”
We are not on the right track.
Does the governor mean a “comeback” for millionaires? After all, thanks to Gov. Christie’s two vetoes, they’re the only ones living better since the governor took office. Middle-class families are struggling to pay their mortgages and keep their homes, but the governor has astonishingly expressed pride in protecting tax cuts for millionaires. His priorities and opposition to shared sacrifice to help our working families is wrong.
Everyone, except it seems the governor, has identified property taxes as the single most pressing issue facing our state.
No matter how the governor dresses it up, a 10 percent across-the-board income tax cut is a disproportionately generous gift for the wealthiest among us, one that will have little-to-no impact on the lives of working class New Jerseyans.
Sure, Gov. Christie’s income tax plan may sound nice, especially for the governor’s national ambitions, but here in New Jersey it would save a family earning $50,000 per year just $80.50. A family earning $100,000 per year would save just $275. Millionaires, meanwhile, get a $7,265.75 tax break.
Under Gov. Christie’s income tax scheme, middle-class families don’t save enough for a week’s worth of groceries, while millionaires save enough to go on an exotic vacation. Middle-class families get to fill up the gas tank once or twice on the minivan, while millionaires get enough to all at once nearly pay off an entire year’s property taxes on the average New Jersey home.
So Gov. Christie may wave around gimmicks like “The Jersey Comeback” while 9 percent of our residents stand on the unemployment line, and he can tout an income tax cut proposal that benefits the rich, but all the while he’s hoping no one will notice that he’s has been slashing programs for working families for the last two years.
Democrats will begin reviewing this plan line-by-line, but will do so continually focused on ways to combat property taxes and restore the property tax relief cut by this governor.
Middle-class property tax relief is our priority.
We know tax cuts for the rich neither help our economy not our middle-class, so let’s put the focus where it belongs – on New Jersey’s working families.
Louis D. Greenwald is a Democrat who is the Assembly Majority Leader and represents the 6th Legislative District in Camden County.