💲 A proposal to dramatically lower NJ property taxes
💲 A measure would give all towns a fair share of $4.3 billion
💲 No reaction so far from the governor’s office

You might not have ever heard of it before but the Garden State has something called the New Jersey Debt Defeasance and Prevention Fund.

Established in 2021, this multi-billion-dollar fund was created to lower state debt and cover the cost of capital projects in place of issuing new and additional debt, but questions have been raised about the process used for handing the money out, and it’s unclear why some towns get funding while others do not.

Two New Jersey lawmakers want to take all of the money and use it for property tax relief.

Hand it our fairly

Robert Linder via Unsplash
Robert Linder via Unsplash

State Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland, says his measure, S3906, would provide “every single town and every county" with "a fair share of funding."

He said $4.32 billion from the New Jersey Debt Defeasance and Prevention Fund and the state’s general fund would be appropriated to all municipalities and counties in the state to retire local debt or fund local capital projects on a pay-as-you-go basis.

The co-sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, stressed this proposal is designed to allow funds to be distributed in a fair and even manner “so that everyone will benefit rather than just a few politically connected folks.”

Money goes to the politically connected-it's garbage he says

New Jersey Budget

He said it makes sense to distribute the money currently in the Debt and Defeasance and Prevention Fund right away because “much of that money has been sitting around, or when it’s doled out it’s doled out in a non-transparent process where the bulk of the money goes to the politically connected. We think that’s garbage.”

Testa said the plan calls for $3 billion to be allocated to each municipality on an equal per capita basis. Each municipality would receive the same dollar amount per resident, and the remaining $1.32 billion would be allocated to each county on an equal per capita basis.

“Enough is enough. Let’s give it back to where it belongs and the counties and municipalities dole out the money as they see fit, in a very fair, open and transparent manner," he said.

Towns need help

Tim Mossholder via Unsplash
Tim Mossholder via Unsplash

O’Scanlon said that many towns in the Garden State are struggling financially and “we can help them avoid property tax increases, we can help them avoid accruing debt, that’s exactly what should be happening with this money.”

He said taxpayer money needs to be allocated in a way that ensures fairness.

“It’s the responsible thing to do and if we do it our way it’s a fair and transparent way to do it so that everybody in New Jersey benefits.”

The proposed legislation would require the $4.3 billion to be distributed to towns and counties within 30 days of its enactment.

The entire Senate Republican caucus has signed on as sponsors of the “Give It Back” property tax relief legislation.

The governor’s office was asked for comment on the plan but there was no immediate response.

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