NJ Senate Democrats Talk Tax Cuts At Town Hall [AUDIO]
With three tax cut plans on the table, New Jersey's Senate Democrats held their first town hall in Mercer County to discuss how their proposal to cut property taxes differs from Governor Christie's income tax cut plan.
Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senate President Steve Sweeney led the town hall forum in Lawrenceville where approximately a hundred people showed up with questions for the pair on the various tax cut plans up for consideration by both parties.
Governor Christie's plan would cut income taxes 10% across the board, the Assembly Democrats want a 20% property tax reduction plan and Senate Democrats want to cut property taxes by 10%.
Sweeney says a main reason for holding the town halls is to explain to the public the differences between the tax cut plans.
"I thought it was important to start doing these for one reason...the governor is running around the state saying that I agree with him, I couldn't disagree any more with him. He wants to give millionaire's a break under his income tax cut plan. I want to help the middle class. When he says I agree with him, I'm sorry I don't."
Sweeney says the middle class has suffered under the first two years of the Christie administration.Extended audio with Steve Sweeney:
"Their property taxes are up 20% on average, and when I heard his commercial I had to say something. No, I don't agree and I don't agree with giving tax breaks to millionaires either."
Senate Republicans released a statement saying that Democrats had increased property taxes by 60% in the last decade.
· FY 2010: Spent $1.057 billion in federal stimulus on state aid to schools, without a plan for dealing with that absence in future years.
· FY 2009: Gave $3.9 billion to New Jersey's bankrupted school construction program, which authorities called "vulnerable to mismanagement, fiscal malfeasance, conflicts of interest and waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars."
· FY 2009: Shifted costs to local government, driving up property taxes by decreasing municipal aid by $162.4 million.
(Source: State budgets)
New Jersey residents remain undecided on the varying plans so far.
"I don't agree with a lot of it. Its a nice idea, but I want to know how much its going to cost and where the money is coming from" said Mary from Ewing.
"I think we need to focus on the property taxes because a lot of seniors and disabled are on fixed incomes and those are the people that really need the relief" said Dave from Lawrenceville.
Governor Christie and Senate President Sweeney both admitted in as many days that they have spoken to each other about tax cut plans, but finding an agreement could be another story.
"We will sit down and talk, I am confident we will give tax relief to New Jerseyans this year" Christie said during a press conference earlier in the week.
"I'm more than willing to sit and listen and talk to him about my plan, not his...because his plan is a non-starter" said Sweeney.