From the Philly Inquirer:
Gov. Christie unveiled a sweeping package of proposals Monday aimed at solving the state’s “property-tax crisis,” minutes after Democratic legislative leaders proposed reinstating an income-tax surcharge on residents who earn more than $1 million a year.
On a day of especially sharp exchanges among political leaders, and with the deadline for a completed state budget less than two months away, the governor said his plan would require passage of 33 pieces of legislation. At its heart: a constitutional amendment to place a 2.5 percent cap on increases in property-tax levies for municipal, school, and county taxes.
Governments could exceed the cap with voter approval; the only other exception would be for debt-service payments. Currently, the state has a 4 percent cap, but many more exceptions are permitted.
The legislation, Christie said, “will for the first time deal with the root causes of New Jersey’s property-tax problem.” Property taxes in New Jersey are among the highest in the nation.
“We cannot any longer have business as usual in this town,” Christie said. “We believe these reforms present us with both a unique opportunity and a unique solution to finally getting at the root of the things” that can make New Jersey unaffordable.
Other bills in the package would cap state spending, excluding aid to municipalities and school districts and direct property-tax relief, at 2.5 percent; prevent arbitrators from awarding contracts that exceed 2.5 percent, including salaries, benefits, and other economic compensation; allow counties and municipalities to opt out of civil service; and move school and fire elections to November.