News Flash

State Officials Get Postcard Delivery From Ostrich

NewsFlash — Wednesday, May 21, 2003

By TOM BELL
The Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Some critics of government will tell you there are frequently loons and dodos roaming around the Statehouse, but on Wednesday there was an ostrich in the halls of power.

Someone in a feathered get-up delivered postcards to befuddled secretaries in the offices of Gov. James E. McGreevey and other state officials.

"Does the ostrich talk?" one woman in McGreevey's office asked as the fake flightless bird stood silently and posed for cameras.

The costumed creature was working on behalf of the Fairness Alliance, a lobbying group that is pushing for the so-called "millionaire's tax" as a way to prevent deep cuts to programs in the state budget.

The postcards deposited by the ostrich were signed by 2,100 New Jersey residents who back the idea of increasing the state income tax on those whose incomes are more than $400,000 a year.

"We brought the ostrich to tell our elected officials they need to get their heads out of the sand," said Staci Berger of NJ Citizen Action, one of the groups in the alliance.

The postcards were also delivered to Democratic Senate President Richard Codey, Republican Senate President John O. Bennett and Assembly Speaker Albio Sires, D-Hudson.

The alliance said the state could raise nearly $1 billion by boosting the income tax from 6.37 percent to 7.5 percent on family income over $400,000, to 8.5 percent on income over $600,000 and to 9.5 percent on income over $1 million.

Those changes would affect about 50,000 households, or 1.9 percent of tax filers in the state.

The idea is an extension of a millionaire's tax proposal made by Sires. His plan has received little support from lawmakers.

McGreevey has vowed not raise income or sales taxes despite the state's budget woes.

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