Tag Archive: Earned Income Tax Credit

Sen. Barbara Buono: What’s Not To Like?

In today’s world of media short attention span no sooner is one issue raised in the gubernatorial campaign than it is quickly supplanted by another. We rapidly lose track of the totality – the many differences between the positions of each person. Let’s take a look at key issues and compare the two main candidates.

  •  Property taxes: She’s champions efforts to hold down property taxes by asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share. He does not.

  •  Miinimum wage: She supports increasing it and and indexing it to inflation. He does not.

  •  Earned Income Tax Credit – She supports raising it back unconditionally to 25%. He lowered it to 20% and uses it as a gimmick to further other ends.

  •  School education: She supports more funding for schools and seeks to protect collective bargaining rights for teachers. In his first year in office he reduced funding by $820 million and has been antagonistic toward bargaining.

  •  Environment: She supported the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and wants to put an end to using waivers that allow polluters to dirty our air and water, and jeopardize public health. He does not.

  •  Marriage equality: She embraces it. He runs away from the issue, vetoes the legislative bill, and hides under his call for a public vote on the issue.

  •  Women’s health care: She supports funding for Planned Parenthood. He does not.

  •  Transportation: She supported the building of the ARC tunnel and understands the value of investing in our infrastructure. He ended ARC and he invests too little in our infrastructure.

  •  Gun violence: She calls for the reduction in magazine size from 15 to 10, an end to the private sale loophole, and a law requiring face-to-face sale of ammunition. He does not.

  • Oversight: She has questioned recently the management of halfway houses and AshBritt’s debris removal costs. He resists oversight.

    Senator Barbara Buono lays out her positions on these issues in her web site. The incumbent governor, in his web site, preferring only to laud his accomplishments, does not.  

    What’s not to like?  

  • It’s Time To Give A Damn About NJ’s Poor

    The U.S. Census Bureau on September 13 released a report, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the U.S.: 2010. Bloomberg News summarized key data:

    The Bureau says 10.7%  [or 941,000] of New Jersey residents had household incomes below the poverty line last year. It was 9.3% in 2009 and 9.2% percent in 2008. The Census Bureau also says more than 15% of the state’s residents have no health insurance. That number has risen steadily.

    Poverty Benchmarks – 2011, a March report issued by Legal Services of NJ (LSNJ) indicated nearly two million New Jerseyans are living in or on the brink of poverty. The state’s Occupational Wage Survey (August 2011) shows that of those employed the average salary is $50,730, but of those in the bottom 25 percentile the highest salary is $24,460. In order to be living above the poverty level, a family of one adult with two children would need an annual income of at least $17,285, and a family of two adults with two children would need $22,113.

    A Modest Safety Net Proposal

    Governor Christie in a few weeks will present his new budget for the fiscal year ending June 2012. He has already said he wants to make substantial changes in the State Pension and Health plan including rolling back a 9 percent increase enacted in 2001, suspending retirees’ cost- of-living increases, raising the retirement age, and increasing employee contributions. Also he is not ruling out further cuts in the general budget. As most New Jerseyans are finding out, transit costs, property taxes, state services fees, NJ Homesaver Rebates, closing libraries, school services, and fewer women’s health clinics are just some of the hurdles we face. Because of all the cuts Governor Christie is imposing it is all the more important that our safety net be strengthened.

    A local public, private and non-profit collaboration for one month is now offering a service that the State should help with its own funding. The United Way of Passaic County, in partnership with AARP, Passaic County Community College, the IRS, Wells Fargo Bank and NJ211 announced the opening of a Financial Empowerment Zone (FEZ). Together they offer at no cost to Passaic residents tax preparation, financial literacy, benefits screening, and referrals. Understanding our tax code is difficult for all of us, but many can not afford tax preparation fees. They are unaware of the advantages of the Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax benefits due them. Some lack financial literacy and are unaware of services they could use.

    In  the midst of  a budget-cutting spree there are still low-cost initiatives that Governor Christie should undertake. This is just one of them. Helping those less fortunate with basic finances would be an important safety net service that he could support. Taxpayers can make an appointment for tax filing or for benefits screening by calling United Way toll-free at 2-1-1 or 973-279-8900 x205.

    What suggestions do you have for new low-cost initiatives to compensate for Christie’s cuts?