Tag Archive: Property Tax

The weather, Alka Seltzer and property taxes

New Jersey property tax is somewhat like the weather. Everybody talks about it but nobody does much about it. The weather admittedly is hard to change, but there are policies that could reduce property tax in New Jersey. Gov. Christie and the legislature created a theoretical 2% cap and made other improvements around the fringes. However, as our national economy and jobs improve, inflation will begin to creep upward placing further strain on local governments.

What Gov. Christie gives with one hand he also takes back with the other. Throughout his tenure he has done little to provide relief. His new budget is no exception, as can be seen in the two largest components of property tax: school and municipal taxes.

What’s Happening Today Tue. 12/31/2013

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

As 2013 fades into history, let’s look forward to tomorrow. There is plenty of unfinished business to occupy our attention in 2014. Here are some suggestions:

  • Budget Safety Net: The poor and the middle class are not a priority for Gov. Christie, but with an upcoming strained budget they must be for the legislature.

  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Continue local efforts in support of this national initiative and urge your congressman to support it.

  • Drug Courts & Sentencing: Gov. Christie supports drug courts but more funding is needed. It is time to reduce prison entries for nonviolent offenders and revamp existing drug laws.

  • Earned Income Tax Credit: Gov. Christie should restore the credit to 25%.

  • Economy: Reduce wasteful subsidies to large corporations and invest more in good schools and a well-trained, highly-educated workforce.  

  • Education: Expand State-funded pre-school classes for needy kids and reduce inflated college costs.

  • Financial Assistance for Dreamers: The other half of the Dream Act.

  • Gun Control: The legislature should reintroduce bills vetoed by Gov. Christie.

  • GWB Scandal: Find out the truth behind the lane closures and reform the Port Authority.

  • Halfway Houses: Reform this system which is a bonanza for corporations and politicians but no help for inmates or the public.

  • Health Insurance & Medicaid: Provide education and assistance to assure more enrollment into better quality ACA insurance and into the expanded Medicaid program.

  • Housing: Gov. Christie should end his raiding and obstruction of the affordable housing program.

  • Infrastructure: New Jersey has about $70 billion worth of infrastructure work and the price tag will only increase if the state continues to put off making the needed improvements.

  • Marriage Equality: Continue discussion as to whether ME should be passed by the legislature, and create a veto-proof majority.

  • Millionaire Tax Surcharge: Implement this fair and essential method to increase needed state revenue.

  • Pinelands & Fracking: There should be no gas line through the Pinelands. There should be no fracking or transportation or disposal of its waste in NJ.

  • Property Tax: Encourage (and remove barriers to) consolidation and sharing services.

  • Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Christie withdrew NJ from RGGI. It’s time to rejoin the initiative.

  • Retire Rep. Scott Garrett (CD 5): Will a worthy opponent please stand up.

  • Sandy Recovery: Start with transparency, bring an end to discrimination, assure financial aid to those most in need, strengthen the State-wide plan (including safe location for buses and trains) and insist on resiliency.

  • Solar Power: The administration should move forward with plans for offshore facilities.

  • Supreme Court Nominees: Christie has already placed two Republicans on the court. He should nominate a Democrat and grant tenure to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner or the Senate should continue ignoring his nominees.

  • Womens’ Healthcare: Gov. Christie should fund Planned Parenthood.

    Open thread: What is on your agenda for 2014?

     

  • NJ’s New “Go Along To Get Along” Budget

    In the midst of an election cycle, this year’s budget process has been the Governor and Legislature making nice with each other. Both sides are averse to cutting programs popular with the general public, introducing new controversial issues, and engaging in protracted confrontations. We can remember past years when debate, anger and threats ruled. This year the budget was negotiated behind closed doors with the public and the press uninformed about the process. The budget bill (A4200) which is about to be passed in a few days is only now available in an abbreviated form on the Legislature’s main website page.

    Our budget system is somewhat perverse. The Governor starts out with what he wants in the budget and presents it to the Legislature. The Legislature then adds items it wants, and deletes items it does not want. Finally, the Governor can line-item veto anything he dislikes but he can not add back in expenses. Of course there are exceptions and subterfuges, but that is how it is supposed to work.

    The governor has the upper hand and routinely gets about 90% or more of what he or she wants, but the Legislature can negotiate to appropriate or not appropriate funds for specific items. Nonetheless, Mark Magyar points out today, “As expected, the final budget bill was little changed from the spending plan Christie laid out four months ago.” (Appropriations net changes of $56 million in a $32.9 billion budget.)

    The Legislature removed from the Governor’s budget $2 million for the Opportunity Scholarship Act program (school vouchers).

    Some of the Legislature’s additions to the budget include  $35 million for higher education reorganization; $7.4 million for school districts, rolling back an administration plan to make districts pay more for capital borrowing; and $13.2 million for community providers who care for the mentally disabled.

    An item not in the budget is additional funding for pre-school programs. Likewise there are no monies for Planned Parenthood, which will be addressed in separate legislation. There is no funding for Christie’s tax cut plan that he promoted so hard. Nor is there any consideration for a millionaire’s tax surcharge. (Also the $24 million needed for the Special Elections is not included.)

    So in the end harmony is preserved. There is nothing wrong per se with accommodation, but in a period of economic upheaval, environmental concerns, high unemployment, pen/ben indebtedness, unresolved social issues, high property taxes, fraying infrastructure, growing poverty, and Sandy recovery efforts, one might yearn for a more robust public discussion of how we set our priorities and spend our money.

    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?  

  • Blue Jersey Focus – Mark Alexander

    Even though the 2012 election season has yet to reach its peak, let’s not forget that in New Jersey, 2013 will be another significant election year with the governor and the entire legislature at the forefront of electoral politics.

    While many of our state elected officials are not professing to be gearing up for 2013, at least in public, one person who has already declared his candidacy is Seton Hall University law professor Mark Alexander. Two weeks ago, on Blue Jersey, he made what he calls “an exciting announcement” to tell the world that he is running for the Senate seat currently held by Senator Nia Gill.

    Earlier today, I spoke with Professor Alexander via Skype to get to know him, why he is running, and what his priorities would be if elected. Alexander is no stranger to politics, having served behind the scenes for many prominent Democrats, and is the son of former presidential counsel and Secretary of the Army Clifford Alexander.

    Notes: This is my first (and maybe last) attempt at a Skype interview. The audio and video are horribly out of sync. If any of the technonerds out there have some suggestions on a better way to record using Skype, please e-mail me at deciminyan@gmail.com. The article has been corrected to reflect the comments from Carl Bergmanson.

    Christie by the Numbers: Bring This to His Next “Town Hall”

    This week, we saw Gov. Christie at his most self-promotional, pumping out to press a video compilation of some of the kind of behavior he likes to be known for (missing is some of his grossest name calling, apparently reserved for women and veterans). Everything for Christie these days is elaborate (often on your dime) audition schtict, for Romney’s short list (Romney’d have to be nuts) and for Christie’s national profile. Also this week, Christie’s Jersey Shore verbal assault of  a constituent, which Star-Ledger calls a tipping point which should warn away Romney (or, hello, anyone).  

    Christie wants you to focus on his style, to chat about his swagger and big mouth so you don’t notice the wrecking ball he’s swinging over his head.  

    One New Jersey has compiled a well-researched – and sourced – guide to your governor, what he’s doing, and how it’s impacting you. Christie by the Numbers. Scan through it – Jobs is up first, below the fold, find info on federal funding lost, corporate bailouts in dollars, cost increases, property taxes, poverty numbers and program cuts, and some things you may not know about Christie’s GOP fundraising.

    How Long Does It Take Governor Christie to Say “No”?

    54 minutes – Length of October 4th vanity press conference, announcing intent not to run for President of the United States

    10 seconds – Amount of time it took Governor Christie to veto the millionaires’ tax (1:34-1:44)

    Jobs Lost

    25,500 – New Jersey public sector lost since January 2010 (Capitol Quickies, 11/22/2011)

    47 – Out of 51 nationally, New Jersey’s government job growth rate since January 2010 (Capitol Quickies, 11/22/2011)

    45 – Out of 51 nationally, New Jersey’s private- and public-sector job growth rate since January 2010 (Capitol Quickies, 11/22/2011)

    45,000 – Number of permanent jobs Christie cost New Jersey by killing the Access to the Region’s Core tunnel project (The Star-Ledger, 10/28/2010)

    30,700 – Jobs lost in New Jersey from December 2009 to December 2010 (NewJerseyNewsroom.com, 1/19/2011)

    16,300 – Jobs lost in New Jersey in December 2010 alone, including 13,300 private sector jobs (NewJerseyNewsroom.com, 1/19/2011)

    10,000 – Teachers and school employees laid off in 2010 due to Christie’s budget cuts (Daily Journal, 12/29/2010)

    6,000 – Number of construction jobs New Jersey lost when Christie decided to end the Access to the Region’s Core tunnel project (The Star-Ledger, 10/28/2010)

    2,200 – Police officers laid off in New Jersey in 2010 due to Christie’s cuts to municipal aid (The Star-Ledger, 1/16/2011)

    There They Go Again

    This from the Senator was posted late on Tuesday’s busy primary election day. Pulled up top for your consideration now. – promoted by Rosi

    The revenue situation in New Jersey continues to go from bad to worse, recalling that scene in the Wizard of Oz when the curtain was pulled back to reveal that the Wizard was not some omnipotent force with the power to render miracles, but really just a curmudgeonly old man pulling some fancy levers.

    It was a disillusioning moment for Dorothy and company, much like the scene being played out in Trenton today.

    Chris Christie hype machine would like to have everyone believe that the Governor has single-handedly resuscitated New Jersey’s economy through the sheer force of his personality.  If hyperbole alone could create jobs and stimulate economic growth then, no doubt, we would be in good hands.

    Unfortunately that’s not the case.

    Dems to Gov. Christie: You’re signing our legislation when you’re not busy calling us out.

    Today, we learned via tweet from Courier-Post political reporter Jane Roh that the Gov. Chris Christie “Town Hall” going on right now in Evesham is closed to press questions. Christie’s road show on the face of it is a great idea and a great chance to hear from constituents. But the Christie administration blows the chance for real exchange by manipulations in different combo packages including advance notice to active GOP to stack the room with friendlies, using a taxpayer-paid video team to capture “YouTube Moment” smack-downs of those ordinary citizens who disagree with him and dare to say so, and scheduling them during weekday working hours when most working people can’t attend. Making himself unavailable to press is a recent ruffle, and not a good sign.

    Christie uses his “Town Halls” – which have always been more about the politics of self-promotion than info-sharing with the peeps – to complain about a legislature that frankly does more for him than it should, but not enough to suit him. His latest “Town Hall” theme is how hard his life is, dealing with NJ’s “do-nothing Legislature”. Countering that, the Democratic majority office just sent out a list of legislation, proposed by Dems and targeted at property tax reform, that Christie’s signed into law –  in those “Moments” when he wasn’t out on the landscape calling them names. It’s a list worth contemplating, too long to list on one page:

  • A-1637 sponsored by Assemblywomen Connie Wagner and Joan Voss (both D-Bergen) to help ease school financial burdens by allowing ads to be placed on school buses. Signed into law in January..
  • A-1894 sponsored by Majority Leader Joseph Cryan (D-Union) to require certain conditions be met in order for school districts to provide their employees with tuition assistance for coursework or additional compensation upon acquisition of academic credits or completion of a degree program. Signed into law.
  • A-2031 and A-207 sponsored by Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex) and Albert Coutinho (D-Essex) to help municipalities save on training costs by allowing them to hire laid-off police and fire firefighters. Both signed into law.
  • A-2078 sponsored by Joseph Cryan (D-Union), John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem) and Elease Evans (D-Passaic/Bergen) to give county freeholders veto authority over actions of local authorities to rein in the power of quasi-independent agencies. Signed into law in August.
  • A-2300 sponsored by Connie Wagner (D-Bergen) and Upendra Chivukula (D-Somerset/Middlesex) to clarify state government’s responsibility for funding evaluation of some special education children. Signed into law in September.

    List continues after the jump.