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N.J. Democratic leaders to focus on middle class when reviewing Christie's budget

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) said, "The governor got it wrong with this budget and the middle class will pay the price if he gets his way. It's wrong for him to put in place a tax scheme that provides a windfall for the wealthy and only small savings for the middle class and working people. It's wrong for him to ignore the property tax burden carried by most homeowners and it's wrong that his past budget practices caused a 20 percent increase in property taxes during his two years in office.

"The governor falsely claimed that the property tax problem has been solved and he falsely claimed that cutting taxes for millionaires and multi-millionaires is the best formula for the economy,” Weinberg said. “He's wrong on both counts. We all want to cut taxes, but we should cut the right taxes and we should help those who need it most."

Sen. Anthony Bucco (R- Morris), the Senate's Republican budget officer, said, “The governor has continued to make good on his pledge to the people of New Jersey to force state government to live within its means while supporting important investments in our state: property tax relief, higher education, aid to local schools, support for seniors and the disabled, and improving our business climate.

"The governor's plan to cut the income tax is, too, an important investment in our state,” Bucco said. “Cutting the income tax leaves more money in the pockets of every working family in New Jersey while improving the environment for job creation. It is a down payment on an improved economic future in which growth is measured in the number of taxpayers and job opportunities we attract to New Jersey, rather than how much government spends and how high taxes are raised.”

The Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey also offered praise for Christie’s budget proposal, citing it as an effort to restore fiscal discipline to the state government.

The CIANJ is a business advocacy organization, representing more than 900 member corporations throughout New Jersey.

John Galandak, CIANJ president, attended the governor’s address. “For the third year in a row Governor Christie presented a budget plan that will allow state government to fund its priorities without raising taxes and pledged to veto any tax increase that was presented to him,” he said. “In fact because of the tough bipartisan decisions made over the last two years which have redirected New Jersey’s fiscal policies, our state is now in a position to implement a 10 percent across the board reduction in personal income taxes.”

Galandak added, “The business community has long asked for predictability and certainty from state government. This budget message continues to deliver both. This is another positive step in having New Jersey shed its reputation as one of highest taxed states in the nation. Signals like these make people stand up and take notice of how our state is changing and becoming a more attractive place to locate and grow a business. CIANJ is certain that the creation of private sector jobs will accelerate as a result.”

Bill Dressel, New Jersey State League of Municipalities director said with regards to the level of property tax relief funding that Christie has purposed, it appears that property taxpayers should expect level formula funding. He said this includes Energy Tax, CMPTRA, Garden State (Open Space) Trust and Watershed Moratorium Offset funding. While $42.8 million will be shifted to either the Energy Tax or CMPTRA distribution, Transitional Aid funding is slated for a $56.4 million reduction.

“The governor noted that, thanks to the bi-partisan reforms, pension bills are lower this year than they would otherwise have been,” Dressel said. “We were also advised that health benefit costs should be down slightly this year, with savings growing significantly over the next five years. While we appreciate the leveling of municipal property tax relief, we are disappointed with the state’s continued budgetary reliance on municipal revenues.”

Deborah Howlett, New Jersey Policy Perspective president, said, “The recession blew a $2.5 billion hole in the state budget that has never been filled. Now, the governor wants to dig that hole even deeper with an irresponsible gimmick that only benefit’s the wealthiest 1 percent. Proposing an income tax cut might be good politics, but it's bad policy for most New Jerseyans.

“For most of us, the governor’s proposed income tax cut will amount to $2 a week, which will be quickly eaten up by rising property taxes,” Howlett said. “Meanwhile, the top 1 percent will reap nearly 40 percent of the savings. The state's tab for this tax cut will ultimately be $1.1 billion, and that money has to come from somewhere. While the governor seems to think it will come from his pie-in-the-sky revenue projections, it's hard to imagine the state's stagnant economy will turn around quite so quickly. At the end of the day, it will be New Jersey's future generations footing the bill."



 

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