Gov. Chris Christie's Tax Proposal 'Smacks Of Pandering,' New Brunswick Protestors Say

The Star-Ledger — Monday, April 15, 2013

By Brian Amaral / NJ.com

NEW BRUNSWICK — It's Tax Day, with an election-year twist.

As many New Jerseyans rushed to the post office to file their taxes, political groups tried to convince them with equal urgency that Gov. Chris Christie's tax policies were — depending on whom you listen to — either a fair, reasonable plan for the middle class or a shallow, election-year gimmick.

A group of liberal activists outside the New Brunswick Post Office used a fake $2.1 billion check to argue the latter.

"Instead of building up, he's trying to trickle down," said Rob Duffey, a spokesman for the New Jersey Working Families Alliance.

Members of the union- and environmentalist-backed group and affiliated organizations handed out fliers to passersby on Monday at the post office on Bayard Street, arguing that Christie's policies haven't done enough to bring down the state's 9.3 percent unemployment rate. The organizers held up a novelty check for $2.1 billion, which the group said represented Christie's "giveaways" to corporations.

The protest came on the same day that Christie proposed a sweeping new tax plan.

From The Star-Ledger: "Christie's plan calls for households earning up to $400,000 to receive an income tax credit equal to 10 percent of their property tax bills to be phased in over four years and capped at $10,000. Qualifying homeowners would get a $100 credit for the second half of 2013, then 4 percent of their property taxes next year, 8 percent in 2015 and 10 percent in 2016 and after that.

Christie would restore the earned income tax credit from the current 20 percent to 25 percent. He slashed the credit in his first year in office. He would also gradually increase the refund for renters from the current $50 to $200 by 2015."

Christie said in a news release Monday: "This is the right plan at the right time directed to those who need property tax relief the most - our middle- and working-class families."

The group in New Brunswick on Monday begged to differ. They argued that the state should scale back business tax breaks, citing a report from a liberal group that concluded the state hasn't seen a spike in new jobs, despite a spike in tax breaks for businesses.

"He should prioritize small business owners and the middle class," said Corinne Horowitz, a business representative for the Main Street Alliance who attended Monday's protest.

Duffey argued that Christie's plan for tax breaks for households making up to $400,000 was too high.

"The state's finances are so uncertain," Duffey said. "Now is probably not the time for a tax cut."

The group agreed with a restoration of the earned income tax credit, which Christie slashed his first year in office, but said that his proposal was an insincere election-year ploy.

"It's a little interesting that he waits until now (to propose the restoration)," said Ann Vardeman, an organizer for New Jersey Citizen Action. "It smacks of pandering."

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