New Jersey voters fell hook, line, and sinker for Corzine’s promises of lower property taxes.
Aides to Governor Corzine are recommending a range of new taxes on clothing, cable television and Internet purchases as well as possible layoffs to help plug a $6 billion hole in the state budget.
The advisers, in a six-page draft report, are also suggesting a higher gas tax, a slice of 401(k) earnings for state coffers and a temporary tax surcharge to raise money immediately. They say they want an end to “illogical loopholes” in the income tax code.
“The fiscal health of the state of New Jersey has plunged perilously close to ruin,” the draft says. “In two short decades, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, the state has gone from a financial powerhouse to a financial basket case.”
Corzine has said the state budget will fall about $6 billion short of its anticipated $28 billion spending needs. Moreover, the Transportation Trust Fund, which finances multimillion-dollar highway projects, and the state workers’ pension fund are heading toward insolvency. The state has racked up nearly $30 billion in debt and has another $30 billion in liabilities, the aides concluded.
The document makes no specific proposals for dealing with spiraling property taxes throughout the state, but it does assert that the plan could lay the groundwork for comprehensive and long-lasting property tax reform. Failure to enact fundamental changes would lead to “grave consequences, including … skyrocketing property taxes,” it warns.
Corzine had campaigned on a platform of property tax reform. Although he refused to make a “no new taxes” pledge, he often said he had no intention of raising taxes.
The draft report Thursday led critics to compare him with former Gov. Jim Florio, whom voters punished in the early 1990s for declaring a new tax on toilet paper and other staples, plus raising the sales tax rate 1 percent.
“Corzine has broken Jim Florio’s record,” Wilson said. “In just eight days after taking office he’s announced perhaps the most significant tax increases in a long time.”