From the APP:
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said he won’t move forward with any plans to eliminate New Jersey’s estate tax without a broader deal to increase the state’s gasoline tax.
Prieto, D-Hudson, stood along with a coalition of left-leaning groups Monday who lambasted plans by Gov. Chris Christie and some in the New Jersey Senate to eliminate the tax on estates worth more than $675,000.
Calling the move “unconscionable” and “another big giveaway for the wealthy,” leaders from the state’s education union and environmental, anti-poverty and other groups said the elimination of the estate tax would blast a $450 million hole in the state’s proposed $33.8 billion budget for next fiscal year. That, they said, would benefit only the wealthy while cutting programs that help the state’s poor and middle class.
“We would not be able to withstand a total repeal,” Prieto said. “It has to be a part of a bigger picture in my mind.”
Also, part of that picture would be a gas tax hike to fund the Transportation Trust Fund, which is projected to run out of money for new projects this summer. Meanwhile, Christie’s administration said last week that the governor is waiting for lawmakers to send him an outline of what that deal might look like.
Prieto’s announcement is a hurdle for a bill making its way through the state Senate that would phase out New Jersey’s estate tax entirely over five years. The state has the lowest thresholds for estate taxes at $675,000.
It also came on the same day state Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, proposed compromise legislation that would increase New Jersey’s estate tax threshold to $2.5 million, the average level for states that tax estates.
Prieto said he could support increasing New Jersey’s estate tax threshold to the federal level of $5.4 million or possibly a phase-out, but only after the state started reaping the benefits from replenishing the transportation fund.