The Star-Ledger

Unions, Advocacy Groups Endorse NJ Millionaires Tax

The Star-Ledger — Tuesday, May 20, 2014

By Salvador Rizzo / The Star-Ledger

TRENTON — With New Jersey facing a "fiscal crisis," unions and advocacy groups today came out in support of raising some taxes and repealing some tax cuts.

The Better Choices for New Jersey Campaign sent a letter to state lawmakers arguing that they should find "sustainable and progressive" new revenue streams to help close the current $807 million shortfall in the state budget and make new investments.

A Democratic proposal to raise the income tax rate for New Jersey's millionaires is a good starting point, the group says. Gov. Chris Christie, who is set to announce his plans to cover the shortfall this week, has long been opposed to raising taxes.

"Four years of failed economic policy demonstrate the need to carve a new path for our state," the letter reads. "New Jersey residents need jobs, investment in K-12 education, affordable higher education and housing, accessible quality medical care, improvements in critical infrastructure, and protection of our environmental assets."

The $807 million budget gap opened up in April, after state tax collections lagged far behind Christie's targets for the month. Christie has said he may need to make painful cuts to public services to bridge the gap. Two Wall Street credit-rating agencies, Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investors Service, downgraded the state's debt afterward, partly because of the shortfall.

The Better Choices campaign includes 40 organizations such as the New Jersey Education Association, the League of Women voters and the consumer group New Jersey Citizen Action. They are also calling on state officials to close some tax loopholes for corporations and repeal some business tax cuts.

"Chris Christie made a bad bet that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations would jump start New Jersey's economy, and working families shouldn't have to pay the price for his failed polices," said Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families, a member of the campaign.

"The real path to a New Jersey comeback is through investing in infrastructure and strong, safe communities. Any responsible budget plan for the next fiscal year must include new, progressive, sustainable sources of revenue."

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