From the APP:
For more than a decade, the Asbury Park Press has been a tireless advocate for property tax relief. We have written dozens of investigative stories documenting the problem and spelling out the reasons New Jersey’s tax burden is the highest in the nation. And we have offered countless, commonsense suggestions for relieving the burden.
There is no shortage of ways to reduce taxes. We, and a long list of oped contributors, have detailed many of them. Yet, for the most part, it has been like banging our heads against the wall. Bills have been drafted that would provide some relief, but few have survived legislative hearings and found their way to the governor’s desk for a signature.
The 2 percent property tax cap, signed into law eight years ago, has helped limit the rate of increases. But there has been no concerted effort to roll back taxes. The only thing standing in the way of doing so is political will, which has been in short supply in Trenton.
For those who have held out even a glimmer of hope that things might change, the election of liberal Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, whose focus has been largely on how and where to spend more money rather than on how to spend less of it, was deflating.
But soon after Murphy was inaugurated, Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, announced the creation of a task force to broadly review issues affecting taxes and spending at all levels of government. Its members, drawn from academia and New Jersey’s public and private sectors, all have extensive experience in fiscal policy.
On Thursday, the task force will issue a report that provides a series of recommendations that could have a substantial positive impact on taxpayers. A Senate staffer says the report will be the most consequential review of ways to improve government efficiency since the SLERP Commission study years ago. The SLERP report included 111 different recommendations; not nearly enough of them were implemented. It’s likely that many of those same recommendations will end up in the latest report. Will they go unheeded, as has been the case with previous studies?