From the Star Ledger:
As New Jersey homeowners fall asleep tonight, maybe they’ll dream of North Dakota. It’s possible that the folks in Fargo will wake up this morning as the first state to abolish the dreaded property tax. Pinch me, they’ll say.
The average property tax bill in North Dakota is $2,600, chicken scratch compared with New Jersey’s, which was more than $7,500 in 2011. That’s up 20 percent from 2009, and nearly 12 percent of a family’s annual income.
Big numbers are one reason to hate the property tax. Here’s more:
• Middle-class mauler: It’s a flat tax, hitting the one-bedroom bungalow at the same percentage as the mansion next door, taking a larger chunk of the middle-class taxpayer’s paycheck.
• Pockets of poverty: Taxing private property creates hopeless pockets in cities, where there is precious little property to tax. In Newark, a third of the real estate is occupied by tax-exempt properties such as churches, schools and government buildings.
• Suburban sprawl: For municipalities that need extra income, it’s tempting to approve new development — if only to create a new stream of property taxes. Need money? Say yes to the strip mall.
• Pay up: If your pay is cut, your income tax rate drops, too. But you pay your full property tax bill no matter what happens to your income. For many, the only way to get property tax relief in tough times is to sell.
• Anti-ownership: One of the loudest criticisms in North Dakota’s anti-property tax campaign was that it’s the only tax that can cost a family its home. In the words of one critic: “It means all of us are renters — none of us are homeowners.”
From the Record:
A few days after his administration started preparations for a possible government shutdown at the end of the month, Governor Christie said Wednesday that he “will not negotiate a budget with the state Legislature until they cut your taxes.”
Democrats from both the Senate and Assembly are scheduled to meet Thursday in Trenton to go over the parameters of an agreement that Democratic leaders say they have reached – with their own version of tax relief, not Christie’s, still on the table.
But Christie’s comments at an event in Galloway on Wednesday were some of his strongest yet on the budget as the deadline for a new spending plan draws closer.
Christie and the Democrats who control the Legislature did not negotiate a budget last year. But there was no government shutdown because Democrats sent the governor a budget bill by the constitution’s June 30 deadline. Christie used his line-item veto power a day later to enact a spending plan with the changes he wanted.
This year, Democrats say they are also planning to again propose their own version of the budget and send it to Christie’s desk by the constitutional deadline. The question that remains unanswered, however, is whether the Democrats’ bill will sacrifice revenue to tax relief –something Christie has been calling for since the beginning of the year — even with tax collections not meeting the governor’s own budget projections.