|Editorial: Be bold on property taxes
Asbury Park Press…Asked to name the most important issue facing New Jersey, fully half of the voters in a Monmouth University Poll last month cited property taxes. That was three times more than those who listed public education (15 percent), jobs (13 percent) and health insurance (11 percent). In the summer before Christie was elected, 45 percent listed property taxes as the top concern. That fell to 32 percent in late 2012 and 27 percent in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy a year later.
Given the significance of the issue to New Jersey taxpayers, the candidates for governor and all 120 seats in the state Legislature this fall have an obligation to address it head-on. That means coming up with ideas that are both bold and realistic.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagno has made property tax relief for the middle class the centerpiece of her campaign. She has proposed capping the schools purposes portion of the property tax bill at 5 percent of a taxpayer’s household income, with anything over that limit credited toward the municipal tax bill…
…at least she is broaching the subject, something Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy has yet to do. The last press release he put out on the topic — nearly two months ago — called on Lt. Gov. Guadagno “to release all the memos and policy papers she produced on how to combat property taxes over the past 7-plus years in service to the governor.”
We call on Murphy to release all the memos and policy statements he has developed on what he plans to do tomake New Jersey affordable again. To date, most of his proposals call for increasing spending — and paying for it by expanding the economy. He has said nothing about actually reducing the tax burden.
The issues section of Murphy’s campaign website, under the heading “Making New Jersey More Affordable,” lists several ideas that will make the state less affordable, including fully funding schools, lowering college costs by “using state investments” to reduce tuition and fees, forgiving debt for graduates employed in STEM-fields, and restoring rebates for seniors and low-income residents. All those proposals will end up costing taxpayers more.
In other parts of his website and on the campaign trail, Murphy has made other promises that threaten to make New Jersey even less affordable. For someone with the wealth of Murphy, who can afford to pony up more than $200,000 annually in property taxes on his Middletown home, reducing taxes may not even be a blip on his radar. Voters need to put it there, front and center.
…Reducing property taxes is New Jersey’s No. 1 issue. Only support those candidates who offer a bold, credible plan for tackling them.