Christie Urges Action on User Fees to Ease NJ’s Property Taxes
After proposing a $32.9 billion state spending plan that increases school aid and expands Medicaid coverage and does not raise taxes, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been busy today trumpeting his budget as a fiscally responsible plan that encourages growth and holds the line on property taxes.
"I talked about the progress we've made already on property taxes, last year's increase was only 1.4 percent, the lowest in 24 years, as a statewide average, and I also talked about the the other things we need to do," Christie said this evening during Townsquare Media's Ask the Governor program.
Christie Wants an End to User Fees
The Governor said to help lower property taxes even more dramatically, lawmakers need to pass legislation that will prohibit so-called "user fees" for services such as garbage collection, they need to end sick leave payouts - for unused sick leave by public employees, and legislators also must pass a shared services bill that will withhold state aid to towns that don't actively participate in shared services.
Christie also said his plan to delay issuing homestead rebates by three months - pushing them back from May to August this year- is because state revenue dropped dramatically last November after Superstorm Sandy and we need to allow for more time for revenue to rebound.
To no one's surprise, Garden State democrats continue to complain about the Governor's proposed budget.
Budget Plan Gets Criticism
"We actually heard about gimmicks," Democratic Assembly Budget Committee chairman Vinnie Prieto says. "The (property tax) rebates are being pushed over into next (fiscal) year."
Assembly democratic leader Lou Greenwald believes the Governor delivered a lot of "crowd pleasing one-liners" but he says we're not rolling up our sleeves and addressing the core problem of property taxes in New Jersey.
"He talked about turning Trenton upside down, and you know if he turned Trenton upside down it was just to shake the loose change out of the pockets of the middle class", said New Jersey State Senator Barbara Buono, the presumptive democratic candidate who will oppose Christie in the race for Governor later this year.
She stresses property taxes have continued to rise in New Jersey, while the state's unemployment rate has remained high, even while the national rate has slowly dropped over the past few years.
Recent polls show Christie continues to have a sky-high approval rating among voters - 74 percent believe he's doing a good job as Governor.