Christie Proposes Tax Cut; Dems Are Skeptical [AUDIO/VIDEO]
Governor Chris Christie talked of his administration's perceived accomplishments in yesterday's State of the State Address. He mentioned the two-percent cap on property tax hikes and public worker pension and benefit reforms to name two. He then discussed the need for real education reform and his desire to reclaim the state's inner cities in 2012. All of that slipped into the background when he said he plans to make good on a promise he made to New Jersey in 2009.
"I propose to reduce income tax rates for each and every New Jerseyan in every tax bracket by 10% across the board," says Christie. "I also propose to fully restore the earned income tax credit for New Jersey's working poor, which we were forced to cut during the dark days of 2010, when growth was gone and we had no money. Understand what this means - every New Jerseyan will get a cut in taxes; the working poor; the struggling middle class; the new college graduates getting their first job; the senior citizens who have already retired; the single mom; the job creators; (and) the parents trying to afford to send their son or daughter to college."
The Governor says because everyone made the sacrifice, everyone will share in the benefit. Christie feels this will send a loud signal to New Jerseyans and would-be New Jerseyans, to families here now and families who have left, to businesses and job creators thinking of coming here and those who have struggled to stay: New Jersey is once again a place to plan your future, raise your family, grow your business and someday retire. He says, "The New Jersey Comeback has begun."
Christie knows that some will argue that New York only raised taxes on the rich and he'll be asked why he doesn't adopt Governor Andrew Cuomo's package for New Jersey. The Governor says in New Jersey enacted the exact same income tax rates put into law by New York last month, every person earning below $100,000 a year would face a tax increase - of anywhere from 150 to 200% and those earning a million dollars would get a tax cut.
"An across the board tax cut is fair - every New Jersey taxpayer will benefit," explains Christie. "Every New Jerseyan's rates will go down. Every New Jerseyan will see relief……..Because we have put our fiscal house in order we can budget for our priorities and give tax relief to all of our people. Tax relief that will lead to better lives for our citizens and more jobs for our state."
The tax cut plan needs legislative approval and that's not a slam dunk. Top Democrats says they're not embracing Christie's proposal because it seems to them that he in once again pandering to the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle-class.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney says, "When you delve down into the numbers this is another windfall for multi-millionaires in this state at the expanse of schools because that's where the money comes from when you cuts taxes."
Leading Democrats say a family with an annual household income of $1 million would save $7,265 a year under Christie's tax cut plan. A family earning $100,000-a-year would save just $275.
Senate Democratic Leader Loretta Weinberg points out, "A $50,000 (a year) worker in New Jersey would save a big $80 and I can assure you if they own a home the home tax (property tax) will go up three times that amount."
Democrats are not saying Christie's plan is dead on arrival, but they are saying they need more details. Assembly Democratic Leader Lou Greenwald explains, "The income tax cut at 10% is $1.1 billion out of revenue that goes to property tax relief. Where is that money going to come from? That's the key here…….If you want to do us a favor cut the property taxes by 10%. That's where the problem and the disease and the cancer that is destroying the state lies."
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver says, "For the last two years, the Governor has ignored the economic and social realities of the working poor. All of the cuts that have been instituted by this administration have disproportionately equated to tax hikes on those who earn the least. A ten percent across-the-board income tax cut might make a nice sound bite, but ultimately it benefits the wealthiest far more than low and middle income earners."
"The Governor rightly called on all of us to double down on a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda by reducing taxes for every New Jerseyan and restoring the earned income tax credit for the working poor," says Senate GOP Leader Tom Kean. "We will show individuals and job creators that we are serious about not only stabilizing the cost of living and doing business in New Jersey, but actually reducing it."
Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick says, "The Governor's proposed tax cut for every New Jersey taxpayer represents the next step make New Jersey more affordable for families and competitive for new jobs. This is relief taxpayers can count on because Governor Christie doesn't make promises he doesn't intend to keep. We have had historic successes over the past two years and I look forward to working with my colleagues across the aisle to deliver more tax relief, create more jobs and complete New Jersey's comeback."
"Governor Christie's bold plan to cut New Jersey's income tax rates for all New Jerseyans will boost the state's economy and encourage businesses to expand and create jobs for New Jersey workers," believes New Jersey Business and Industry Association president Phil Kirschner. "The Governor has made it clear: New Jersey is not going to return to the high-tax policies of old, but will build upon the many bipartisan successes that have improved the state's business climate and created private-sector jobs."
Video by Dino Flammia