If you listened to Governor Chris Christie's State Budget Address yesterday and walked away unaware that you will be getting your property tax rebate later this year, it's not your fault.

Governor's Office/Tim Larsen

It's not that you weren't paying attention. Christie failed to mention it in his speech. Democrats were certainly paying attention to that fact.

"We actually heard about gimmicks in a budget briefing with the Treasurer," says Democratic Assembly Budget Committee chairman Vinnie Prieto. "The rebates are being pushed over into next year and when you talk about gimmicks…..Candidate Christie actually talked about restoring the rebates fully. Now we're actually pushing them and not actually doing them this year."

The rebates will go out in August rather than in May under Christie's proposal so they will be going out this calendar year. The state's Fiscal Year ends midnight June 30 so by delaying the rebates until the next Fiscal Year, the Governor is able to erase a roughly $400 million shortfall in the current year's budget. The price tag for the rebates is $392 million. The estimated deficit is $407 million.

"The real problem in this state is the continued failure to roll up our sleeves and to address the core problem that this state faces which is the over-reliance on property taxes," says Assembly Democratic Leader Lou Greenwald. "We heard a lot of crowd-pleasing one-liners today. What we didn't hear were real solutions to our state's unemployment crisis or the net property tax burden that has increased over 20 percent in the past three years."

Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver says Assembly Democrats will exercise the same circumspect approach as last year in dissecting Christie's FY 2014 budget proposal and its impact on New Jerseyans.

"The Governor's reckless budget decisions last year have now come back to haunt him and it's homeowners who will pay the price," claims Oliver. "His wildly inflated and unrealistic revenue projections for the current fiscal year have not panned out, forcing him to once again delay the delivery of property tax relief."

Governor Christie On Property Taxes

Christie is challenging Democrats to take action on his proposal to prevent towns and counties from imposing user fees to circumvent the 2% Property Tax Cap. He says it is also time to finish the job with the property tax tool kit that is designed to help municipal governments keep property taxes down in the long run.

"So far, you have taken action on only six of the 20 bills which embody the toolkit and the public is still waiting for action on legislation to remove barriers that prevent municipalities from sharing services, and to once and for all, end the practice of six figure checks for government employee sick days," Christie told the Democrat-controlled legislature. "These commonsense reforms can bring our property taxes down even further and perhaps even reduce them. If you fail to act, everyone in New Jersey will know who obstructed the solutions to our property tax problems."

The Assembly Majority Leader had a response at the ready.

"The Governor's approach seems to be you're bipartisan when you agree with me but a partisan obstructionist when you disagree," says Greenwald. "New Jersey's middle-class needs real solutions, not just endless blame games."

GOP Lawmakers Back Their Boss

As expected leading Republicans had nothing but rave reviews for the Governor's budget message.

"Being able to deliver the highest level of property-tax relieving school aid in state history and the largest debt payment in state history, while achieving the smallest property tax growth in state history is no small feat," says Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O'Scanlon. "My friends on the other side of the aisle have absolutely no business criticizing this budget - that spends less than a budget they voted for in 2008 - while delivering more bang for taxpayers' bucks - especially those who may have voted against the very reforms that have exponentially improved out state's fiscal future."

Tony Bucco, the ranking Republican on the State Senate Budget Committee echoes O'Scanlon's praise for Christie's spending plan proposal and also takes a shot at his colleagues across the political aisle.

"The Governor's budget hits all the right notes for taxpayers: spending at responsible levels without taking more from the citizens and businesses of this state, maintaining our commitment to public education, meeting our obligations to retired workers, and reducing the use of one shot revenue gimmicks," insists Bucco. "It is my hope that my Democrat colleagues abandon their crusade to criticize for the sake of criticism and follow this budget's blueprint for a state that lives within its means."


Courtesy Governor's Office