Make the rich pay more taxes — they won’t leave NJ, progressives say
A newly formed coalition is calling on New Jersey lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy to create a new approach to state budgeting that puts the needs of ordinary people over those of special interests.
During a news conference outside the statehouse annex on Tuesday, For The Many New Jersey put forth a plan to reset the New Jersey tax code to ensure everyone making $250,000 a year or more would pay higher taxes.
The coalition, made up faith, labor, environmental, transportation, housing and community organizations, is also calling for restoration of the 7% state sales tax and the estate tax for ultra wealthy heirs, cutting corporate business tax loopholes, extending the corporate business tax surcharge, taxing high-end services including interior decorating and limousine rides, and other changes they claim would raise a total of $3.136 billion annually.
Sue Altman, the executive director of the progressive New Jersey Working Families Alliance, said for too long New Jersey’s tax policies have only served the wealthy and the well-connected.
“We see our public infrastructure crumbling, we see our schools in disrepair and income and racial inequality and segregation at an all-time high in our state," she said.
“These are deep problems and they don’t happen by accident. They’re not natural. They don’t happen through inertia. They happen because of policies, these are policy failures and these are failures of leadership.”
She said if taxes are hiked for the richest New Jersey residents, “they will not leave the state. New Jersey is a wonderful state to live in and to play and to grow in and to have a business.”
While Democrats control the Legislature, State Senate President Steve Sweeney has opposed plans to raise taxes and has been reluctant to increase taxes on the wealthy, which Murphy has supported.
Opponents of increasing taxes on the wealthy say that will drive wealthier residents to move out of the state, taking their money with them and resulting in lower tax collections.
Brandon McKoy, the president of the progressive think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective, said the past few decades of New Jersey budgets “have been dominated by short-sighted decision making and trickle-down economics, and this has set our state further behind and harmed our ability to make critical investments in our communities.”
He said time has come to “prepare New Jersey for the future economy where everyone can be safe, secure and healthy.”
Staci Berger, the president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, said the Garden State has housing crisis because homes and apartment rentals are so expensive.
“Somebody earning minimum wage has to work 142 hours a week to afford to house their family, that’s three full-time jobs and then some," she said.
“We’re talking about meeting people’s basic fundamental needs for healthcare, housing, a safe clean environment. These are not pie-in-the-sky things — these are things that people need.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com