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StayNJ: Election Year Politics at its Worst
Despite the claims of many legislative leaders and Gov. Murphy, there’s broad consensus about the compromise agreement on the StayNJ property tax “relief” plan for seniors: It is an election year stunt with questionable financial backing that does nothing to address New Jersey’s out of control property taxes.
The proponents of this proposal are those who are counting on votes from seniors this November.
Progressive groups, fiscal conservatives and many journalists across the ideological spectrum, including Paul Mulshine and Tom Moran of NJ.com , along with Charles Stile of the Gannett/USA Today Network, have pointed out the facts that the Trenton leadership won’t tell you.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Rebates or credits are NOT a tax cut. They can be eliminated at any time when the state’s fiscal outlook dims. Similar programs were eliminated or significantly curtailed by Governors Codey and Corzine.
- An independent analysis finds the state is looking at a budget shortfall between $12.5 billion to $18.5 billion beginning in FY2025, while the StayNJ program will not take effect until January 2026. Meanwhile, NJ Transit, our school funding formula, and healthcare all face massive deficits.
- Legislators are claiming that funds for the program will be kept in a “lockbox” to prevent a raid for the budget. Unless it is enshrined in the state constitution, which StayNJ will not be, there’s no such thing as a secure lockbox.
- The proposal does nothing to address the root cause of high property taxes: Government spending. There are no such reforms included.
Seniors, who are the “marks” for this bait and switch proposal, are the demographic most likely to turn out for this November’s off-year legislative elections, when turnout will be extremely low.
New Jersey voters, especially our seniors, have a right to be jaded when it comes to promises from Trenton about “tax relief” – especially in an election year – and the promised relief is still years away, if it ever comes. Caveat emptor – buyer beware!
While we’re glad the leadership is Trenton is acknowledging that outmigration of wealth is a threat to our state’s future, StayNJ is not the solution. We need fundamental policy solutions like corporate tax rate reduction and pension reform to make our state more affordable and to allow working and middle class families and college students to stay in a New Jersey that is affordable and prosperous.