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Governor Christie To Veto Millionaires' Tax Hike, But Can't Before Thursday

New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio — Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kevin McArdle Reporting

The veto drama is being delayed because the full State Senate is holding off voting on the bill until Thursday.

The millionaires' tax hike measure was approved by the Assembly along party lines with no Republican support. The same is expected to happen Thursday in the Upper House.

Democrats say the tax increase would generate $789 million for middle class property tax relief to help 95% of New Jersey's residents. The revenue would be dedicated to the Homestead Benefit Program, which pays credits against local property taxes, helping lower a homeowner's property tax bill.

The added money would triple the amount available under the program, providing for significantly enhanced property tax relief payments to the state's beleaguered homeowners and tenants according to Democrats. ($398.5 million had already been budgeted).

Under the plan, senior and disabled homeowners would receive homestead benefits according to existing law. This would equal 20 percent of the first $10,000 in property taxes paid in 2011 if an applicant's income does not exceed $100,000, 15 percent if the applicant's income is more than $100,000 but not more than $150,000 and 10 percent if an applicant's income is more than $150,000 but not more than $250,000.

Other homeowners would receive the same homestead benefits to which they are entitled under last year's budget, but eligibility would be extended to homeowners with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000.

Homeowners would have their rebate calculated based on their 2011 property taxes paid rather than on their 2006 property taxes, as proposed in the Governor's budget proposal.

Senior and disabled tenants would receive benefits according to existing statute. Homestead benefits for these residents with incomes up to $70,000 would receive between $150 and $850. Those with incomes of $70,000 to $100,000 would receive $150.

Other tenants would receive 50 percent of the statutory rebates, which would amount to $75.

"Governor Christie once said cutting property tax rebates was akin to declaring war on the middle class, but upon taking office he callously threw gasoline on the property tax crisis fire by slashing property tax relief," says Assembly Democratic Leader and bill sponsor, Lou Greenwald, "The Governor's failure to fulfill his promise was to the detriment of New Jerseyans who have been hit with a net 20 percent property tax hike under his watch. This bill gives the Governor the chance to begin living up to his promise and provide substantial and real property tax relief to the middle-class and seniors."

Christie says, "That is a man who is obsessed with raising taxes. Taxes can't be high enough for Lou Greenwald... I know Lou. He loves to raise taxes and create new taxes. That's really the bedrock of his career." Christie has vetoed the tax hike twice and promises to do it again.

"This is the Governor's time to finally do the right thing," claims Greenwald. "The Governor has to decide if he's going to keep his manic approach to protecting the mega-rich or is he going to side with taxpayers around the state and give real relief? We're giving him an opportunity to put his money where his mouth is and put the money into a program that gives immediate relief to real families throughout the state of New Jersey."

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick says increasing the tax tells the state's roughly 16,000 job creating millionaires, "Go to Florida where there's no state income tax. Don't stay here. We don't want you here.... Let's work on lowering taxes. Let's forget raising taxes."

"For the past two years Governor Christie has repeatedly valued tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of New Jerseyans over the programs the middle class needs," said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, New Jersey Citizen Action Executive Director. "The New Jersey Senate and Assembly will do the right thing by passing a responsible budget that promotes tax fairness and invests in a sustainable future for all New Jerseyans, not just the rich."

Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O'Scanlon says, "Time and time again, Corzine Democrats find it incredibly easy to raise taxes, yet (they are) stubbornly slow to deliver relief. The fiscal policies of the past two and a half years are creating jobs, putting New Jersey on track for a better future and have the support of the people. We must not abandon that moment by approving a budget plan that includes a job-killing tax and no immediate relief for taxpayers."

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