Affordable house making NJ un-affordable (Opinion)
The mandates pushed on NJ towns through the courts and the lack of action on the part of the legislature has created a situation in our state that is untenable. Last year, the courts ruled again on the controversial "Mount Laurel Decisions" that forced towns to provide "affordable housing" and not to use zoning to "discriminate" against poor people.
Since the first ruling in 1975, our taxes have steadily increased and our cities have become dangerous places lacking education and job opportunities. The best and most sustainable solution would be to let the market grow, creating opportunity for urban development by incentivizing new businesses, which would create demand for local housing, naturally setting prices to meet demand. Instead, our government imposed mandates on local towns forcing local taxpayers to pay more to accommodate an influx of people beyond the scope of the local infrastructure. This adversely impacts education, emergency services, roads, parking, among other things that taxpayers have to support.
I spoke with Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick on Wednesday who is proposing a constitutional amendment in NJ that would get the courts out of the housing business.
Think about the flawed logic of affordable housing mandates in the first place. It establishes a right to live in a place that a person could otherwise not afford. Why does a poor family have a "right" to live where they otherwise couldn't afford? This "court-imposed right" is forcing out middle class families who can no longer afford to pay the real estate taxes for another person's "rights". How about creating economic opportunity? How about raising income levels through business tax incentives? Destitute families should be provided with basic human needs. Shelter, clothing, food. But to crush local towns by imposing new residents beyond what the community is capable of handling is simply wrong. It's morally and financially wrong. And it has lead to the consequence of pricing middle and working class families out of their homes. I've often talked about my idea for a "reverse millionaires" tax. Attract wealth and tax revenue into the Garden State by giving breaks for income at the highest levels. That's just one idea to bring in new tax revenue. The next step is to amend the constitution and take away the Court's power to impose housing on towns. The third step is to create tax incentives for businesses and developers to move into our cities and hire locally. We can solve the problem of high taxes and affordable housing. But we have to act immediately. And as you consider who will get your vote in the next legislative election in 2019 and whether Governor Murphy deserves re-election in 2021, ask yourself, who speaks for New Jersey?
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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