Assembly Dems propose millionaire’s tax [AUDIO]
Assembly Democrats unveiled an alternative budget on Thursday one day after Senate Democrats released theirs. While the two plans differ slightly, there is one common element: they both call for hiking taxes on the wealthy in New Jersey.
Many details in the Assembly version are still being ironed out, but Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto said he will work with Senate Democrats to produce, one solid budget.
"We're definitely in lock-step with the Senate," said Prieto (D-Secaucus). "We want to make sure that we have a balanced budget that fully funds all our obligations. We're one step closer."
The state's highest income tax rate is 8.97 percent. Under the Senate Democrats' plan the tax on those making $1 million dollars a year or more would rise to 10.75 percent and generate $565 million in new revenue. The new rate for those making between $500,000 and $1 million would be 10.25 percent and generate $155 million. Sweeney said he is willing to allow the tax hikes to sunset if more jobs are created and the state's economy rebounds. He said he's not worried that the wealthy will flee the state because its' the middle class that truly is struggling.
The speaker said he believes the tax hike should be a true millionaire's tax increase that applies only to those making over $1 million annually, but he also said the numbers are still being crunched and a decision will be made shortly on the income level at which the tax hike should kick in.
On Townsquare Media's June edition of Ask the Governor, Gov. Chris Christie continued to insist there will be no tax increases on his watch.
"I am not going to raise taxes on the people of New Jersey to pay for a broken, bloated pension system and a Cadillac health care system," explained the governor.
Asked if he thinks Christie will use his line item veto power to eliminate most, if not all of the Democrats' proposals, Prieto said he is hopeful, but not clairvoyant.
"I would need a crystal ball to tell you that. If I knew that I'd be having the lotto mega (millions) on my mind. Hopefully the governor will not take an axe to this budget," Prieto said.
The speaker said the Assembly proposal would restore money for women's health care and domestic violence programs, while also providing tax relief for working families and fully funding the state's pension obligation.
"New Jersey has a revenue problem. I don't think it has a spending problem," Prieto said. "We need to start looking at how to get revenues into the state of New Jersey."
On June 25, a New Jersey court will hear arguments in a lawsuit seeking to stop Christie from slashing the current fiscal year's pension payment. The state was supposed to contribute $1.6 billion, but Christie now plans to pay in $696 million. If the court rules against Christie it would knock this year's budget out of balance and have the ripple effect of impacting the budget that begins July 1.