From the Asbury Park Press:
Assembly chief: Halving property taxes unlikely
BY JONATHAN TAMARI
Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr., D-Camden, said Tuesday that talk of cutting property taxes in half is “unrealistic.”
Roberts said he supports some of the ideas proposed by Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, and floated in media reports, but said the state could not afford the 20 percent to 50 percent cuts Burzichelli pondered.
Roberts said lawmakers are considering ways to provide more direct relief to property taxpayers — likely through government credits that would replace the existing property tax rebates — and through caps on property taxes.
Those caps, referred to as “circuit breakers,” could kick in when property taxes reach a certain level or consume a set percentage of a family’s income. Those credits could be linked to the same criteria, but lawmakers are still ironing out the details of how they would work, Roberts said.
One option said to be gaining steam would be selling or leasing a major state asset, such as the New Jersey Turnpike, to get a cash infusion large enough to provide relief.
Roberts said he would favor such a move, under the right circumstances.
“If the private sector can do something better, then the state should permit them to do it,” Roberts said. “If the state can gain some value by repositioning or reselling assets, we should very much consider doing it.”
“The session has become alarmingly stagnant and there is little hope that it will produce the bold action needed to alleviate New Jersey’s oppressive property taxes,” Sen. William Gormley, R-Atlantic, and Assemblyman Kevin O’Toole, R-Essex, wrote in a letter to Gov. Corzine. “The committees’ calendar of activities so far has been a blueprint for failure.”