Trading death taxes for a gas tax hike in NJ?
Get ready for a big push by New Jersey Democrats to increase the gas tax, warned Gov. Chris Christie when he spoke Monday at an event hosted by the New Jersey Commerce and Industry Association in Morris County.
The governor’s comments came on the same day that a liberal Trenton think tank released a report claiming few residents pay the state’s estate and inheritance taxes, but they generate a lot of money and should not be used as bargaining chips to pass a gas tax hike.
“How much do you want to bet that the day after the elections this November, no matter how they turn out, we will see an enormous Democratic push for an increase in the gas tax,” Christie asked Monday morning. "Republicans should not be giving away any votes for an increase in the gas tax. None, zero. Unless, whatever is presented represents tax fairness for the people of New Jersey.”
The governor said the state loses tens of thousands of citizens every year as they age and that hurts businesses. He then explained why it is that older residents decide to flee New Jersey.
“They say to me what friends of my parents said to me few years ago. It's not that I can't afford to live here, I can't afford to die here,” Christie said.
At a recent economic summit in Atlantic City, Assembly GOP Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) said he would support a gas tax hike if Democrats would promise to eliminate the state’s inheritance and estate taxes, which are known in Trenton as the state’s "death taxes." That sparked talk about the idea that was once thought to be a sure solution until it became a dead issue.
New Jersey Policy Perspective released a report late Monday morning that said passing a gas tax increase in exchange for doing away with the death taxes would benefit the rich and threaten the state’s ability to fund important services like education, health care and the environment.
“It’s (the death taxes) the fourth biggest tax in the state and it’s around $700 million a year and 90 percent of the people who die in New Jersey, their estates do not trigger any form of estate or inheritance tax,” said NJPP President Gordon MacInnes. “Only roughly 7,000 end up having to pay either one or both of these taxes.”
According to MacInnes predicting success by eliminating the death taxes is built on fuzzy math that says reducing revenues will help increase revenues, but that hasn’t worked in the past and there’s no reason to believe it’d work in this instance either.
The head of the Assembly Transportation Committee issued a statement late yesterday afternoon after he heard what Christie had to say earlier in the day.
“There should be no trade-off for fixing the Transportation Trust Fund,” read the statement by Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville). “Fixing our roads and bridges is not an option. It is a necessity, but what the governor is proposing is exactly this sort of fiscal chicanery that has lead credit agencies to downgrade New Jersey’s debt nine times over the course of Gov. Christie’s tenure.”
Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @kevinmcardle1.