Christie Visits Voorhees For First Town Hall Of 2012 [POLL]
A day after he unveiled his 10% across the board income tax cut proposal, Governor Christie traveled to Voorhees to hold his first town hall of 2012. Hundreds of peopled packed the Voorhess Town Center mall in south Jersey, where Christie told the crowd his new tax cut plan is the fight for the next five months.
"We need to get this done before the budget in June...let's lock this in so that every New Jerseyan gets a tax break. We are going to do this in a fair and responsible way and phase it in over the next three years."
He said he will continue holding town halls and criss-cross the state until his plan gets approved. "No matter who you are, everyone will get this tax break...imagine knowing that your taxes will go down over the next three years, its the right thing to do."
Some residents, like Tom from Cherry Hill, support the governor's proposal. "I think its outstanding...we have been spending too much for far too long. I think the people in New Jersey need some relief."
Others, like Sarah from Voorhees, question where the money will come from to pay for the tax cut. "I think the devil's in the details...I wanna make sure that more money doesn't come away from public education."
Under Christie's plan, a couple with a taxable income of $600,000 would save around $4,000. A family with taxable income of $50,000 would save about $80 a year. However, he also offered to reinstate an earned income tax credit for the working poor, which he cut two years ago as the state faced a record $11 billion budget deficit.
He hasn't said how he will pay for the cut, but is scheduled to outline his entire state budget plan next month.
Christie attributed the state's improved financial health to a variety of steps taken over the past two years, including the addition of private-sector jobs, the reduction of more than 375 government programs, a cap on the allowed annual increase in property taxes, and an overhaul of the state's pension and benefits programs.
Democrats say the plan would cut funding to education, but Christie wasted no time disputing that.
"Don't let the Democrats fool you into thinking you can't get your taxes cut and that your child's education will be harmed."
He likened Democrats' criticism of his plan to a death grip on the taxpayer dollar: "It's like your money is stuck in their cold, dead hands and you can't get it out. Its funny how they didn't care about being fiscally responsible when they wanted to spend over a billion dollars in last year's budget that we didnt' have..now all of a sudden they want to be fiscally responsible when the money is coming back to you...its bologna" said Christie.
Democrats applauded the restoration of the earned income tax credit return after his State of the State address Tuesday, but immediately blasted the tax cut plan as a boon for the wealthy and a boondoggle for public schools, which rely in part on the income taxes for funding.
Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Camden) said, "It's a bit early for the Governor to essentially be donning a flight suit and declaring 'Mission Accomplished.' The battle to survive goes on for New Jersey's middle class. "Unfortunately, the Governor's appearance is just more sound bites, slogans and massive tax breaks for millionaires - all while New Jersey suffers from an unemployment rate higher than the national average and the highest property taxes in the nation."
During the question and answer session of the program, many asked about the charter schools. Christie said he would prefer they be used in failing districts rather than successful ones, but that suburban districts could not be spared entirely.
"Lets make 2012 the year we fix this problem, because I want to focus charter school expansion into failing districts, not successful ones."
Voorhees resident Alan Ehrlich was yelled at for interrupting a question about charter schools.
"Guys like you who are rude who try to interrupt when I'm trying to answer this woman's question, doesn't allow for civil discourse in this state."
Christie plans to hold his second town hall today in Irvington.
So What's Next?
The governor said education funding will be a top priority in his budget address next month.
"What you're going to see in my budget in the next four weeks is a lof of these districts who have been shortchanged, are going to see increased aid for the first time in a long time."
But Christie said that won't come at the expense of overspending.
"If they (the democrat controlled legislature) try and add wasteful spending to the budget, I'm going to do the same thing I did last year....I will line-item veto it right out...because we are not going back to the old ways of overspending in this state."
The governor said education funding would be done on a fair and equal basis. "Not these stop gap bills that the legislature tries to pass to make themselves look good in front of their own district. It will be done in a coordinated way."
The cost of the income tax cut and how the governor will pay for it will also be a part of his budget address in February.