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Should Voters Decide on NJ Taxes? [POLL/AUDIO]

The responsibility of fixing New Jersey’s overreliance on property taxes could be placed in the hands of everyday New Jersey citizens.

Asm. Lou Greenwald, Asm. Declan O'Scanlon
Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D) and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R) on a property tax panel at Monmouth University (Townsquare Media)

A Tuesday forum on property taxes at Monmouth University often focused on the possibility of a constitutional convention, and the move wasn’t rejected by either side of the political aisle.

The concept would allow a group of elected citizens to come up with a newly-designed tax system for the state. Ultimately, they’d decide the amount of services they need and which taxes should be used to pay for them. The process would only start rolling if it’s decided that the Legislature cannot deliver the help needed with New Jersey’s property taxes, which consistently rank among the highest in the nation.

The residents’ proposal would ultimately make it to the ballot, and its fate would be decided by New Jersey voters.

A constitutional convention received support at the forum from Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, who admitted that past efforts by the Legislature have failed to bring any relief to New Jersey families.

“We’re at the precipice, and I’m afraid we’re going to go over,” he said. “Every other state in the country’s average reliance on property taxes is 70 to 73 percent. New Jersey is 98.”

Fifteen New Jersey counties rank in the top 25 nationwide in terms of property taxes, according to the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.

Piscataway resident Ibrahim Sharif said a constitutional convention would be the state’s best way to make sure things get done correctly.

“I have faith in the citizens of New Jersey. I’m not saying we don’t trust our politicians, but we have to get involved where the politicians will answer to the people,” Sharif said.

Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon said he is open to the idea of a constitutional convention, but he doesn’t believe the state is at that stage yet.

“I think that if there is ever a window where we might be able to make real progress, the next two years is it,” O’Scanlon said.

A bill to create a special convention was approved by the Assembly in 2005, but it died in the Senate.

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