Chris Christie and Lou Greenwald Spar Over NJ Tax Cut Plans [AUDIO]
Governor Chris Christie wants to cut income taxes by 10% for every New Jerseyans. Assembly Democrats have a plan they say can provide a 20% property tax cut for those who need it most. The battle lines are clearly drawn for Christie and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald and neither man is backing down.
The Assembly Democrats proposal would provide a property tax relief credit through the gross income tax return, for all residential homeowners with incomes up to $250,000 in the amount of 20% of the first $10,000 in property taxes paid.
To pay for the new revenue needed for the middle-class and lower-income property tax relief under the Assembly Democrats' plan, the state's income tax rate for those earning more than $1 million would be increased beginning next fiscal year. The rate would go from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent. This would impact about 16,000 out of about 2.6 million filers and raise $800 million at the plan's full implementation in fiscal year 2016. And, that's where the problem lies because Christie hasn't been shy about his thoughts on that particular tax increase.
In his budget message, the Governor said, "We have eliminated the special surtax that for a time gave New Jersey the highest marginal tax rate in the nation - and I am proud to have twice vetoed the effort to re-introduce it. And just so there is no mistake in my intention: I will veto any tax increase again."
Christie says because the Assembly Democrats' plan collapses existing property tax relief programs into it, it doesn't really reduce the taxes by 20%. He adds, "I'm more than happy to have that debate and discussion with the Democrats anytime they want."
Taking the Governor at his word, Greenwald has challenged him to a public debate. Christie has neither officially accepted nor has he declined.
"I still await an answer from the Governor on my invitation to fulfill his own vow to debate our plan for middle-class and senior property tax relief versus his income tax scheme to benefit the rich," says Greenwald. "The Governor himself said he was willing to debate this issue 'anytime they want,' but now he is hiding behind a spokesman. This is a simple question, Governor. It deserves a straight answer. Is it a yes or is it a no?"
Greenwald says, "Over 70% of the state supports the millionaires tax. The Governor isn't always wrong, but when he is wrong I'm not going to not act and not follow the beliefs of my party and myself just because he's in disagreement."
The Assembly Democrats' plan would be phased-in over four years - just as the Governor's plan - but relief would begin immediately, with the first year providing a credit of 20 percent of the first $5,000 in property taxes paid. Under the plan, there would be no statutory change to the existing property tax rebate/credit program, but homeowners qualifying for the property tax relief credit would receive the larger of the two. The Senior Freeze property tax relief program would remain in place.
Christie says, "All I can you is that Assemblyman Greenwald's tax increase plan is dead and he knows it."