Tag Archive: tax increase

Chris Christie uses the working poor as bargaining chips

Bill Holland is executive director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, based in Newark. Promoted by Rosi.

Cross-posted with the Press of Atlantic City.

Last week – on Tax Day – Gov. Chris Christie took the opportunity to veto a bill that would have ended his 3-year-old tax increase on 500,000 of New Jersey’s working families – including 23,000 in Atlantic County. Instead, the governor has chosen to yet again hold their livelihoods hostage to secure a reckless tax cut for residents making as much as $400,000 a year.

Half a million hardworking New Jersey families rely on the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. The refundable tax credit helps offset the high cost of living for low-income families and gives adults an incentive to work instead of relying on welfare or other public programs. And it’s been championed by conservatives – including Ronald Reagan, who called it “the best anti-poverty, best pro-family policy, best job-creating measure to come out of Congress.”

But in early 2010, Christie slashed the EITC, essentially raising taxes on 500,000. He cut the state credit by 20 percent, costing some families up to a week’s pay. And while he claimed raising taxes on the working poor was necessary, he allowed tax rates on the richest 1 percent to drop that same year.

Bencivengo, what was the REAL 2007 deficit?

The True Story of a Reckless & Unnecessary $13.3 Million Permanent Tax Hike

Hamilton Township Republican Mayor John Bencivengo and running mates for Council, Kelly Yaede and Kevin Meara have been running (scared) for office since the day they raised taxes by nearly 40% in their first 3 months of office back in 2008.

Frankly, they should be running scared. When elected, they never understood the fiscal situation that they faced thus they had and still have no justification for their enormous nearly 40% tax hike. Even today they personally do not know why they offered a permanent tax hike for a situation that they did not understand.

So, to compensate, as they run for reelection they blame the “other Mayor” for this historic tax hike of nearly 40%. They state that we had faced a “historic fiscal crisis the likes of which Hamilton has never seen.” and they needed to raise taxes.

They used generalizations and obscurity to pull off instituting a reckless tax hike, a scam and a disservice on the taxpayers of Hamilton Township. But most disturbing is that  they pulled off this reckless tax hike without knowing what the alleged 2007 deficit amount was.

Remarkably, even today, they do not know what the deficit amount was.

Here is how it transpired and here is a narrative of their various claims of various deficit amounts.

They won election to office in 2007 by the “happenstance” that the Trenton Times printed a headline on Election Day 2007 which read- $5M shortfall for Hamilton Red ink revealed in document ordered released http://nl.newsbank.com/nojavas… . I suspect that this headline surprised these three more than it did the then incumbent Mayor. Essentially, they won on an issue that they did not even campaign on, but which they have rigorously seized upon since their reckless 40% tax hike.

They never truly understood the situation left by the former Mayor. As a result, they blunder and they have blundered endlessly in defining for Hamiltonians what this “historic fiscal crisis” was – exactly. So, for the past 4 years they managed to pull out of the wallets of Hamilton residents a cumulative $54 million in extra tax dollars.

If it were not so damaging to the neediest of Hamiltonians and a “defrauding” of all Hamiltonians, the series of different deficit claims that they have uttered would be comical., In all, they have cited four different amounts for what this 2007 deficit was.

In a January 1, 2008 PolitickerNJ article Bencivengo said the deficit was $10 million and Meara and Yaede concurred.

I wish that I could have given a more cheerful address today,” said Bencivengo in a nod to the town’s $10 million budget deficit. “But even if our fiscal circumstances had been better, even if we had ample surplus, I’d be saying the same things. It should be our goal, no matter the circumstances, to do more with less.”


What Bencivengo actually said that day was ” a budget deficit exceeding $10 million.”

At a Township Council meeting on February 6, 2008, then Business Administrator, John Guhl, added $5 million, $1.8 million and $2 million to come up with a deficit total of $14 million??? Granted, I did the math in my head, but I come up with $8.8 million. You can read Mr. Guhl’s explanation on page 16 of the Hamilton Township Council Minutes: http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file…

On June 17, 2008, Bencivengo stated that the deficit was $16 million.

Bencivengo heaped praise on Guhl, saying that the exiting administrator had given the township “a turnaround beyond compare” as he attempted to tackle a $16 million budget deficit during his six months in office.


Then, most recently, in a July 9, 2011 Letter to the Editor of the Trentonian John Bencivengo stated that the 2007 deficit was $5 million!!!

Who can forget the $5 million dollar deficit depicted in the Annual Financial Statement of Fiscal Year 2007?


On top of the fact that Bencivengo, Meara and Yaede are playing games with Hamiltonians by continually hyping up and exaggerating a deficit – they did permanently hike taxes by $13.3 million annually.

Meara said, “but clearly there was a tax increase – I voted for it. At the time with the large deficit we had,


Again, Meara does not offer anything concrete. He only states that that there was a “large deficit”.

Bencivengo, Yaede and Meara got away with the tax hike because they offered Hamiltonians only fear and exaggerations. There is, to this day, no clarity on what the actual financial situation was at the beginning of 2008. They obfuscated, dodged and ducked to introduce as a permanent tax increase of $13.3 million. This is an extraordinary amount which, as a temporary tax increase, would have addressed any number of their deficit claims.

In all, the politicians in Hamilton Township government have raised over $80.1 million thru increased taxes, increased fees, lay-offs of public employees (including police) forcing 8 furlough days on police and other employees and by privatizing the Planning & Engineering Department as well as the Ecological facility.

Meanwhile, they have cumulatively increased spending over 4 years by $30 million (so much for doing more with less John Bencivengo).

That’s a $50 million gap!. Where the heck are those $50 million?

There are bigger issues in Hamilton Township than paving roads. Hamiltonians have been blatantly lied to for four years – essentially robbed of $50 million through a unwarranted permanent tax hike.

Hamilton Township (Mercer, NJ – They Gave us an Enormous and Unnecessary Tax Hike

The all Republican Council’s and Republican Mayor’s current mantra is “4 budgets without a tax increase”.

This mantra is misleading and boarders on an outright lie.

1) It’s Five Budgets not Four, Dummies.

What is important about 4 vs 5 budgets? The incumbants entered office 4 years ago and have introduced their own budget every year while in office, which is 4 years. This year they changed the budget calendar. Because they changed the budget calendar from a fiscal year to a calendar year they naturally had to introduce a transitional budget to cover the period of time from when the the fiscal year ends and the calendar year begins. That is budget number 5.

Why is this misleading? Most voters do not understand the change in budget calendars and the necessity of introducing an additional budget. So, when they hear “4 budgets without a tax increase” they associate that with 4 years, which is the period the up for re-election Mayor and 2 Council people have filled in their first terms in office.

Why mislead the voters? Because the 1st budget included a massive 33% tax hike and they want the voters to forget it.

Here is a link to a Moody’s Investor Services report detailing the ongoing source of revenue from this tax hike paragraph 8: (it is free to sign up if you do not have an account)


2) It was Your Tax Hike and not the Previous Mayor’s

When asked, the Mayor and the Council constantly claim that they needed to raise taxes to cover an enormous deficit left by the prior Mayor. And even go as far as saying that “the Tax Hike was his”.

Huh? It was an all Republican Council so why aren’t they blaned too?

Huh 2? What was this fiscal crisis? They have yet to clearly define it beyond mismanagement, enormous deficit and misappropriation. The Trenton Times said the crisis was $5 million to $8 million. The Mayor states it was enormous amount exceeding $10 million. The Business Administrator said it was $16.7 milllion.

After 4 years, you have not uttered a word about misappropriations, you have not pursued criminal charges…you have not done nor said anything since your election. And once a year in the Maypr’s Budget Address you mention “fiscal mismangement” just to remind the voters of the “mess” you inherited.

Huh 3? You honestly feel that a $13.3 million permanant tax hike was the proper response to a $5 million to $16.7 million deficit?

3) You raised taxes AGAIN in 2009

According to Moody’s Investor services, and my escrow statements, you raised taxes again by 9% for $5.3 million. Here is the Moody’s report see paragraph 6: (it is free to sign up if you do not have an account)http://www.moodys.com/research/MOODYS-ASSIGNS-NEGATIVE-OUTLOOK-TO-A2-RATING-ON-HAMILTON-TOWNSHIPS?lang=en&cy=global&docid=NIR_15963761

4) You cut costs $4 million a year since arriving in office Great, but you did it based upon misleading employees.

I will get back to this later.

5) You raised Township Fees $1 million a year since arriving in office.

6) The math:

$13.3 million x 4 years +

$5 million by 3 years +

$4 million by 4 years +

$1 million by 4 years +

equals $88.2 million

Back out the $10 million deficit (I split the difference from above)

equals $78.2 million

Back out the sum total spending increases of your 5 budgets over the last budget of the previous Mayor equals $30 million

Net amount remaining is $48.2 million. Where is it? You have not paid off bonds? You have not paid off loans. Where is the money?

And since you have so much more ongoing sources of revenue, what justification do you have for laying off employees and furloughing the remainder?

Quote of the Day: “New Jersey taxpayers are facing a massive $2.56B tax hike”

The Governor and members of the GOP keep saying, and the mainstream media keeps repeating that Chris Christie won’t sign a budget that raises taxes. But even Steve Lonegan knows that’s a bunch of nonsense. Check out this quote about what Governor Christie is really doing:

“The idea that this Governor is cutting taxes and spending is a complete myth. New Jersey taxpayers are facing a massive $2.56B tax hike which is a direct result of this Governor’s reckless cuts to state aid. Homeowners across the state are about to get slammed with one of the biggest property tax increases in state history. This Governor’s budget is going to do untold damage to New Jersey’s already fragile economy. People are going to be hurt.”

Ut oh… Steve Lonegan said what Republicans, the press and even some Democrats aren’t willing to say: “the emperor has no clothes.” Christie can try to talk tough all he wants about campaign pledges and even use his shrill statements to veto taxes on his millionaire friends, but make no mistake – Governor Chris Christie is raising taxes.

Schundler says Christie budget raises property taxes

Bret Schundler is really going to be in the dog house with the Govenor. First on Monday testifying before the Senate Budget committee, he disagreed with the Governor and said voters should support their school budgets. This was a direct contradiction to the Governor’s statement the day before. Now yesterday, testifying before the Assembly budget committee, Schundler acknowledged that after school districts adsorb the cuts from the administration, taxpayers will see an increase in their property taxes:

“Local property taxpayers are being asked by school districts to help also, and by the time this year’s school budgets are finalized, we will likely see school property taxes throughout New Jersey up by about 3 to 4 percent. That’s a much smaller year-to-year increase than has been typical in the past 10 years.”

But, But, I thought they wouldn’t sign a budget that raised taxes? Oh that’s right, they’re making other people take responsibility for it. And that’s just what he’s acknowledging as the average increase. Some areas may see even larger property tax increases as aid losses are exempt from the 4% cap. We’ll see how it all shakes out next Tuesday when voters head to the polls. Take our poll below and let us know if you will be supporting your school budget.

Burzichelli: What shared sacrifice?

Governor Christie has talked alot about shared sacrifice when discussing the pain his budget inflicts, but Assemblyman Burzichelli begs to differ and is asking what shared sacrifice. I grabbed this screenshot from the video below the fold which shows how a senior homeowner making less than $25,000, or the amount for dinner with Chris Christie, compared to that of a person making more than $500,000:


And that’s just how seniors fare in comparison. Everyone else is in the red taking a hit too while those making a half million dollars get to keep a little bit more of their money. Check out the full video with his comments here:

As Burzichelli said, the idea of talking about shared sacrifice to help our state get on more sound financial footing is a great sound bite, but for this Governor that’s all it is. For our seniors, it’s words they can’t afford to hear.

Quote of the Day: “Gov. Christie is an iceberg coming right at us”

Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer has not been shy about his disapproval for the Governor’s plans to cut back on state aid. Trenton is seeing $43 million in aid cut and we get this from the Mayor about what the situation is:

“Right now it looks pretty bad. We’ve been put in a position where we are just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and Gov. Christie is an iceberg coming right at us,”

Palmer says the money is owed to the city because they have to pay their rent. The Governor is saying they have to go through the process to compete for aid. I’l like to be able to tell my mortgage company that they have to go through a process to compete for my money.

NJ Transit Public hearings begin today

The first of three days of public hearings will be held by NJ Transit tonight from 5pm-8:30pm where riders can have their say about the proposed 25% fare hike and service cuts. You can view a breakdown of the proposed fair hikes and policy changes, which are scheduled to go into effect on May 1. Their site also contains frequently asked questions they get about why they are in this situation and what the potential changes in service are.

Here is a video NJ Transit put out with a powerpoint explaining the FY 2011 budget:

I’ll put the full schedule of hearings and locations below the fold. If you attend a hearing, drop us a report in the comments. If you can’t make it to a hearing, you can still have your voice heard through this online comment form. To date, they’ve received over 2500 comments and I’m sure they get some pretty entertaining responses.  

In their own words: A GOP review of Governor Christie’s budget

Just before the budget address yesterday, the Democrats put out a release with statements made by Republicans in the past few years when Governor Corzine proposed cuts in some of the same areas:

“The lack of state aid will translate into school property tax increases across most of New Jersey.” – Sen. Tom Kean

Tom Kean, press release, October 9, 2009

“This budget will increase the property tax burden on the middle class at a time when they have borne bad decisions of the past several years. We’ve seen the flat funding or the cuts in municipal aid over the past several years increase the property tax burden…This is an extension of that.” – Sen. Tom Kean

Tom Kean, press release, March 11, 2009

Cutting municipal aid, Check. But still the Governor swears he’s not raising taxes. Next please:

“The governor claimed that he recognized that property taxes in New Jersey were high and needed reform.  No one interpreted that as eliminating or curtailing the only program that provides some relief to taxpayers.  The ultimate effect of doing what the governor is suggesting is actually a tax increase.”-Alex DeCroce

Alex DeCroce, press release, 2/26/09

Cutting rebates, check. Still not gonna raise taxes though, right? Still more on the rebates:

“[This] budget proposal would remove property tax relief for middle-class New Jerseyans who are already struggling to survive in this tough economy. Now is the time when the people of New Jersey are most in need tax relief, but [the Governor] is offering little more than higher taxes.” – Sen. Andrew Ciesla

Sen. Andrew Ciesla, press release, March 10, 2009

What a difference a change in Governors makes. Now they’re all praising Christie’s bold action and attacking the opposition by Democrats. This time the Republicans will have to stand up and vote for these changes rather than taking pot shots in press releases, which is clear from their difference in tone and response.