Christie: NJ residents not willing to do what it takes to cut taxes
Gov. Chris Christie seems resigned to the idea that ever-increasing property taxes will be New Jersey's fate.
"We know what to do to solve the problem but we are unwilling as a society to accept the medicine we need to accept to solve it," Christie said Thursday during his monthly "Ask the Governor" program on New Jersey 101.5.
"I at times grow disillusioned by New Jerseyans who are always complaining about their property taxes but don’t want any reduction in services or change in the way things are being done."
The lack of optimism comes from a Republican governor whose signature accomplishment during his two terms was a 2 percent property tax cap that went into effect in 2010.
The reform did not turn back New Jersey's property taxes, which have been among the highest in the nation, nor did the cap, which came with a list of exemptions, prevent taxes from climbing more than 2 percent in many municipalities. But Christie says the law did put on the brakes.
Since 2010, property tax increases have averaged 2.04 percent a year.
Last year, the tax levy increased by an average 2.54 percent.
On Thursday, Christie said reforming civil service rules would help reduce property taxes, and extending the school day or school year would help improve the quality of public schools, which account for the lion's share of most property tax bills.
Christie this year proposed a complete overhaul of how the state doles out funds for schools. His "fairness formula" would have given every district $6,599 per student. Current funding is based in part on a district's ability to raise tax revenues, with much of the funding going to districts with higher poverty levels. But that plan was never considered viable in the Legislature.
"All we want to do is complain about it but if I go to somebody's town and say, hell, your property taxes are like this because look at how much your school taxes are [...] we are going to take the steps that are necessary to do that. 'No, no, no! Not in my town!'"
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.