Christie to Address NJ Mayors Today [AUDIO]
Today, Governor Chris Christie is scheduled to speak to New Jersey's local leaders at the State League of Municipalities 96th annual Mayors' Conference in Atlantic City. Many believe this speech is a Governor's second most important in any given year behind only the State Budget Address.
Christie has said education reform is his current top priority and while League of Municipalities executive director Bill Dressel agrees that is an important issue, he says mayors are also hoping to hear about another pressing problem as well.
"Our message to the Governor and the legislature hasn't changed quite frankly for the last several years and that is; property tax, property tax, property tax," explains Dressel. "The top three issues are; property tax, property tax, property tax. We've got to keep our eye on the ball."
The legislature did pass a civil service reform bill to make it easier for towns to share services or merge as a way to save tax dollars. Christie conditionally vetoed it because it doesn't include a provision to let towns opt out nor does it include furlough options for municipalities.
The Democrat-controlled legislature also passed a measure to limit end-of-career payouts for used sick days and vacation time for public employees. Christie conditionally vetoed that as well because he feels it doesn't go far enough.
Dressel says mayors want to see these two issues resolved and they'd like to know if funds they used to get from the state such as the energy receipts tax will start flowing back to towns rather than being diverted to the state's coffers.
"We've got to basically, I believe return more of those dollars back to the municipalities to basically offset the most regressive tax there is and that's the property tax," says Dressel.
An email from the Governor's press shop says, "We are focusing on the reform priorities that remain stalled in a Legislature that refuses to get to work, even after only meeting once in the last 51 days in the Senate, and once in the last 140 days in the Assembly. Even while the Legislature persists with inaction, we will continue to press to get results for the people of New Jersey."