BY TOM HESTER SR.
Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday proposed reducing the state income tax for every New Jerseyan by 10 percent and restoring the earned income tax credit for New Jersey’s working poor.
The surprise proposals came as the highlights of the governor’s annual State of the State address before a joint session of the Legislature in Trenton. Christie opened his 41-minute speech by declaring “the New Jersey comeback has begun.”
Christie also called again for changing tenure for public school teachers and the end of bail for violent criminals while awaiting trial.
The governor said the 2012-13 state budget he will unveil in March will be built to allow for the 10 percent income tax reduction.
Beginning in January 2013, the tax cut would be phased in over three years. The earned income tax credit also would take effect the same month.
“I will fulfill a promise I made to all the people of New Jersey in 2009,” he said. “Real relief from the heavy income tax burden that has strangled our families and forced many to move away. I propose to reduce income tax rates for each and every New Jerseyan. In every tax bracket. By 10 percent across the board.
“I also propose to fully restore the earned income tax credit for New Jersey’s working poor, which we were forced to cut during the dark days of 2010, when growth was gone and we had no money,” the governor added. “Understand what this means – every New Jerseyan will get a cut in taxes. The working poor. The struggling middle class. The new college graduates getting their first job. The senior citizens who have already retired. The single mom. The job creators. The parents trying to afford to send their son or daughter to college. Everyone made the sacrifice. Everyone will share in the benefit.”
Christie added, "An across the board tax cut is fair – every New Jersey taxpayer will benefit," Christie said. "Every New Jerseyan’s rates will go down. Every New Jerseyan will see relief. This is exactly what I was talking about when I took office; that the tough choices would lead to the right ones.”
Christie’s proposals come as Democrats who control the Legislature and will continue to do so during the last two years of his term, announced they intend to pass the so-called “millionaires‘ tax,“ an income tax hike for New Jersey’s 16,000 wealthiest residents. The move is designed, in part, to embarrass Christie politically if he continued to oppose it. Now, the governor’s strategists are forcing the Democrats to support the tax cut or face political embarrassment.
"Here is my promise to the people of New Jersey," Christie said. "We will keep the momentum going. I will not permit anyone to re-impose the tax raising, overspending, irresponsible ways of our past which led to our dark decade of joblessness in New Jersey. Stand strong with me and I will stand up for you. We are going in the right direction and I will oppose any move to return us to the despair those policies brought to New Jersey and its citizens."
“For New Jersey, the corner has been turned,” Christie said. “Today, the debate is not about who to blame for our failures, it is how to build on our successes. It is no longer about how to deal with devastating decline; it is now about how to push New Jersey even further ahead. To be better than we thought we could be.
“In these last two years New Jersey has set the standard for governance in America: be honest; don’t mince words; and do the big and difficult things,” the governor said. “Not only because it is right, but because it lays the foundation for future greatness. Now it’s our job to finish the task.”
Christie said what he calls “tenure reform” for teachers would lead to greater student achievement because, he maintained, replacing under performing teachers with even an average teacher raises each classroom’s lifetime earnings by over a quarter of a million dollars.
“Let’s act on real tenure reform now,” the governor said. “Let’s replace despair with hope in every classroom in New Jersey.”
Christie describe the tenure reform he wants to see: