Tag Archive: tax reform

Courage to Connect NJ

Here’s a heads-up, this event is tomorrow. – promoted by Rosi

I recently got an email from a woman in my community, whom I admire greatly.  She said:

“I’ve lived here forty-one years, and I am just recently waking up to the fact that what ails New Jersey is this system of home rule by the 560+ municipalities.   Perhaps my eyes were blinded by the fact that at that time New Jersey was far ahead of other states in education for the handicapped, which was my primary reason for relocating.  Over the years New Jersey didn’t keep up, and when I finally began to wonder why I came to realize the great disadvantage the state has because of its overabundance of municipalities.”

On Wednesday June 8 in Rutherford Boro Hall–7 pm--Courage to Connect NJ Bergen County and the Rutherford Community/Quality of Life Committee are hosting Gina Genovese–Founder and Executive Director of Courage to Connect NJ to talk about how municipal consolidation will save our state. www.couragetoconnectnj.org

Come find out how consolidation can make NJ more efficient, more affordable, and increase quality of life.

The merger moment

Maybe the mayors of the two Chesters can jump-start a needed discussion — the consolidation of many of the state’s smaller towns.

New Jersey — as I write in a column this week for the South Brunswick Post — needs to reduce the number of municipalities in the state.

The state created a panel in 2007 as part of its tax reform efforts that supporters said would help encourage towns to consolidate and share services. In the 15 months since it was created, however, a real discussion has yet to begin.

Money can’t buy me love — but it can buy access

There is an old song by the Smokey and the Miracles (and The Beatles) that, unfortunately, could be used as the theme song for most politicians: “Money (That’s What I Want)”.

The fact is, too much of it is coarsing through the veins of the body politic, distorting our priorities and shutting out the average voter.

My Multi-Tiered Plan is Less Unconstitutional than Your Multi-Tiered Plan

Just hours ago, Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce sent a letter to Governor Corzine warning that the tax cut legislation passed in the Assembly yesterday may be unconstitutional. The reason cited is that it supposedly violates the “uniformity clause” because it is a multi-tiered system that provides varying levels of tax credits based on income (emphasis mine):

Today, I have received a legal analysis that the property tax relief bill (A-1) approved by the General Assembly on January 29, 2006 with bipartisan support is subject to challenge by taxpayers because it runs afoul of the State Constitution’s “uniformity clause” (Article VIII, Section I, Paragraph 1).

A-1 proposes a multi-tiered system of property tax credits for homeowners based on their personal income. Middle income families earning more than $100,000 would be ineligible for maximum credits because they are deemed too wealthy and not deserving of maximum credits. A family earning more than $250,000 a year would not be eligible for any property tax credit at all.

The “uniformity clause,” as interpreted by two state Attorneys General in written legal opinions, requires that all homeowners be treated equally under the property tax laws. Since A-1 would treat homeowners falling within different income classifications differently – and provide reduced credits to middle class families and exclude many homeowners entirely – I believe the bill is constitutionally defective.

Astonishingly, in the paragraphs that follow, DeCroce proposes to fix the current 20%-15%-10% system with his own multi-tiered 30%-20% system!

…they must amend A-1 to provide the same tax credit to every homeowner regardless of income.

[…] We urge you to seriously consider our proposal to provide a 30 percent property tax credit for all households making $200,000 or less a year, 20 percent tax credit for everyone else…

And the contradictions continue! Though the letter stressed there is no lawsuit planned, that sounds very different from what he said (mp3) during a presser earlier in the day:

“Let me say that if they stand by this, someone’s going to be in court on this and we’ll find out what the answer truly is.”

This has become a giant PR disaster for the GOP. Even as they try to backtrack and recover from their tactical mistakes, the blatant hypocrisy exposes their real motivation. If they were really concerned about the constitutionality they wouldn’t have offered an alternative directly contradicting their objection to the original legislation.

Let’s Make a Deal!

Okay, I’m willing to trade the box on the floor that Caroll Merrill is standing next to for the bag that Monty is holding …

Pure blue-sky speculation here, but wouldn’t it be interesting if, say, three or four ‘progressive’ Democrats could be found to vote in favor of the Republican ethics reform bill, in exchange for those same 18 Republicans voting to support ‘one politician, one job, no parallel pensions’ reform?

It certainly would shock the Republicans, who floated their thing without any thought that it might come to pass — which is why it’s such a good bill!

Of course, those three or four brave senators who join hands across the aisle will never have the golden glow of Dick Codey’s grace shine down upon them ever again — and a similar act of treason would have to occur in the Assembly to enable the combined ‘no pay to play, one job per politician’ legislation to reach Corzine, but if … if that were to occur, why wouldn’t the governor sign it?

Since it is now all but obvious that no substantial tax relief will occur (and what little there will be won’t be delivered) before the 2007 elections, the legislature may find it politic to take the voter’s minds off the inevitable failure of tax relief, if the members of the current legislature want to keep one or both of their current jobs. And I’m reasonably confident that ‘no smoking in the car with the babies aboard’ and ‘no cellphones while biking’ aren’t going to cut it in the end.

The sprawl tax

The discussion of tax reform has occurred on a pretty narrow plane, with all of the focus on cost and little focusing on the other, seemingly tangential, but quite harmful effects of the current system.

Breaking from the StartleEdgy – Property tax committees named

Just off their afternoon news alert:

Legislative leaders today named the lawmakers who will serve on the four committees that will study property tax reform.

The committees will study these areas: consolidation of municipal services, public pensions, a citizens’ tax convention and school funding.

The committees are:
Consolidation:
Co-chairs: Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) and Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). Members: Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth), Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), Assemblyman Robert Gordon (D-Bergen), Assemblyman Joseph Malone (R-Burlington.

Pensions:
Co-chairs: Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) and Assemblyman Nellie Pou (D-Passaic). Members: Sen. Ron Rice (D-Essex), Sen. William Gormley (R-Atlantic), Assemblyman Tom Giblin (D-Essex), Assemblyman Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex).

Tax Convention:
Co-chairs: Sen. Bernard Kenny (D-Hudson) and Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester). Members: Sen. Fred Madden (D-Gloucester), Sen. Leonard Lance (R-Hunterdon), Assemblyman Lou Manzo (D-Hudson), Assemblyman Richard Merkt (R-Morris).

School Funding:
Co-chairs: Sen. John Adler (D-Camden) and Assemblyman Herb Conoway (D-Burlington). Members: Sen. Joseph Doria (D-Hudson), Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen), Assemblyman Brian Stack (D-Hudson), Assemblyman David Wolfe (R-Ocean).

The committees will hold their opening sessions: Citizens Convention, Friday at noon; Consolidation, Aug. 8 at 10 a.m.; Public pensions Aug. 9 at 10 a.m.; School funding Aug. 10 at 10 a.m.

The committees are charged with filing reports by November and Gov. Jon Corzine told a special joint session of the Legislature on Friday that if lawmakers fail to “achieve sustainable relief and reform” by Jan. 1, he will call for “a citizens’ constitutional convention” to take up the task.

Contributed by Chris D’Amico