The Star-Ledger

Groups Propose Higher Taxes To Offset Proposed Budget Cuts

The Star-Ledger — Thursday, April 10, 2008

Contending Gov Jon Corzine's proposed cuts to the state budget will raise property taxes and hinder public services like health care, higher education, tenant protection, road repair and outdoor recreation, a coalition of 20 citizens' groups today proposed increases in state income, gas, gambling and liquor taxes and motor vehicle fees to raise approximately $2.28 billion.

"If this budget goes through, we will see longer emergency room waits, higher property taxes and shuttered parks and libraries,'' said Eva Bonime, director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance and coordinator for the new coalition, Better Choices for New Jersey. "This budget makes the wrong choices for working families.''

The coalition is proposing increasing the state income tax on the top 10 percent of wealthy households to raise approximately $500 million. It wants to increases in the gas tax as well as in driver's license and motor vehicle registration fee to raise $1.4 billion.

The group also wants to close what it sees as corporate tax loopholes and re-evaluate business subsidy programs to raise $300 million. And it wants to see liquor and gambling taxes increased to raise $80 million. Coalition leaders said they have not settled on the specificis of their proposals.

"Better choices means looking at sensible revenue options to fund the services and investments our state depends on,'' said Jon Shure, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective. "These are fair, realistic and environmentally sound ways to meet New Jersey's needs.''

The proposals were immediately opposed by business and industry community leaders.

"We've had nothing but tax increases in the last five years in New Jersey, the income tax, the sales tax, the largest business tax hike in the nation, a new estate tax and last week a payroll tax in the form of paid family leave. Where has that got us?'' said Art Maurice, vice president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. "It has put us in the position where we have a private sector that is dead in the water in terms of producing jobs. This has been going on for years.''

The coalition includes the AARP, the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University, the Communications Workers of America, District 1; New Jersey Citizen Action, the New Jersey Environmental Federation, the New Jersey Immigration Policy Network, the New Jersey Tenants Organization, the Rutgers Labor association, the Sierra Club of New Jersey and the United Presbyterian Church of Paterson.

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