How can we afford to cut property taxes?

From the Daily Record:

Tax credit concern: Can state afford it?

Lawmakers involved in an effort to ease property taxes have predicted swift action once their proposals are unveiled today, but privately some legislators have raised concerns about whether the state can afford the roughly $3 billion in plans already on the table.

The questions arise just months after lawmakers engaged in a bruising budget fight that Gov. Jon S. Corzine said hinged on questions of fiscal responsibility.

Some key proposals are well-known by now: an average 20 percent property tax credit for most homeowners; pension cuts and an increased retirement age for new state workers; $1 billion in additional state support for public schools; a revised funding formula that will send some of that money to districts that feel they have been shortchanged in the past; and the sale of a major asset — such as the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway or the state lottery — to help pay for the plans.

Other proposals that emerged Tuesday include a plan to move school board elections to November to coincide with general elections, when there is more voter participation. Another plan will call for a committee to recommend town mergers to save money, with voters in the affected municipalities having final approval.

Privately, however, two Democratic lawmakers said questions remain about how the state can afford to increase property tax credits and school funding without opening new budget holes.

Along with selling a major asset, lawmakers plan to use half of the revenue from a recent sales tax increase for property tax relief. The state will be able to use the sales tax revenue from two years — fiscal 2007 and 2008 — for the first round of reforms. But their plans raise questions about how to afford the tax credits in future budgets that only have one year’s sales tax available.

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25 Responses to How can we afford to cut property taxes?

  1. James Bednar says:

    From the Jersey Journal:

    Pols mull cost of pension status quo

    The political winds in Trenton are swirling around the idea of pension reform – and thousands of public workers may get swept up it in its path.

    A number of Hudson County politicians say it’s about time Trenton lawmakers took a look at what some believe is the “third rail” of New Jersey politics.

    “Pension abuse is rampant and outrageous, and I applaud any effort at reforming the system,” said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy. “We need to have one job, one pension.”

    The state’s current pension system greatly outpaces the private sector by awarding lucrative retirement payouts and lifetime medical coverage for public workers who retire at age 55. It also allows workers to cobble together an unlimited number of part-time government jobs to boost future pension payments.

    A Jersey Journal review of pension records shows that more than 440 government workers collect paychecks from at least one Hudson County government agency, plus hold at least one other public job here or elsewhere. The combined salaries of these government workers amounts to more than $36 million in taxpayer money currently each year, plus millions more later in pensions and retirement benefits.

    The state’s pension fund needs another $24 billion to make the asset fully funded, according to state officials. The shortfall means less money available to local municipalities in the form of state aid – money that could be used to offset the highest property taxes in the nation.

  2. James Bednar says:

    From the Boston Globe:

    Home prices to reel? Study sees 10 percent drop

    Housing prices in Massachusetts could ultimately fall by as much as a total of 10 percent over the next 18 months, according to a new forecast that projects the state’s economic growth will generally lag behind the rest of the nation.

    The New England Economic Partnership yesterday said Massachusetts’ economy has peformed well over the past year and will continue to grow, though more slowly, in coming years.

    The creation of new jobs, in particular, will also continue – but at its current slow pace, the report said.

    But the housing market is in for a much rougher ride, the NEEP report said.

    Prices for single-family homes fell 5.3 percent in the year ending in September, the report said.

    Yet, prices could fall by as much as 10 percent over the next year and a half, before they level off in 2008, the report said.

  3. James Bednar says:

    From the Star Ledger:

    Turning free highways into fee highways

    In its continuing search for new ways to raise money, the Corzine administration is considering converting free highways into private toll roads.

    The administration — in the most preliminary way — has asked for proposals to study the conversion of Routes 78, 80 and 95, the Pulaski Skyway and the section of Route 440 in Middlesex County between the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway into toll roads. This idea grew out of previous discussions about selling or leasing the state’s toll roads.

    During interviews yesterday, state Treasurer Bradley Abelow and Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri confirmed that they had advertised for an engineering consultant and a traffic and revenue consultant to help determine what those roads might be worth if they were sold or leased to a private company. They stressed that the move was part of a wide-ranging state effort to look at any possible way to raise revenue.

    “I think it might have started when I asked Kris why we have tolls on some roads and not others,” Abelow said. “What would be the value of having tolls on other roads? It’s not necessarily something we want to do or intend to do, but at least let’s understand what it means.”

    The state hired the financial services firm UBS in September to study its assets and suggest ways they might be “monetized” — that is, sold or leased to raise cash. The request for qualifications that led to the hiring of UBS made no mention of the non-toll roads.

  4. SAS says:

    “the Corzine administration is considering converting free highways into private toll roads”

    Yeah, sell the lease to China, and let the state earn some money.

    First China owns your mortgage, and now they will own your roads….

    ahh yes.. welcome to the “new” America.


  5. SAS says:

    I still think we need to turn NJ into Nevada and start raising revenue through the sin taxes.

    Not a bad idea.


  6. BC Bob says:

    “and the sale of a major asset — such as the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway or the state lottery — to help pay for the plans.”

    That’s the answer, sell the cash cows and give up a lifetime annuity!! They will piss through this $ in no time and compound the problem.

    Hell, why don’t they just require all NJ drivers to install a state meter in their car. They can charge us by the mile!!

  7. Robert Coté says:

    East Kalifornia formerly known as New Jersey.

  8. James Bednar says:

    Hell, why don’t they just require all NJ drivers to install a state meter in their car. They can charge us by the mile!!

    Stop giving them ideas.


  9. Sapiens says:

    Simple question: What’s the difference between leasing to a private company to issuing bonds?

    The point is who runs the administration and who profits from the asset.

    In this case, they want to sell the asset for a quick fix, but the politicos know it does not matter, we as collective citizens of NJ are too apathetic to care what will happen when the state goes belly up.


  10. Homer Simpson says:

    Come on we might as well go Hog wild and start throwning random Tolls everywhere
    Lets throw some on 287 heck why not just start going all out and throw tolls on Rt 10 rt 46 rt 22 rt 1 and I know Burger King county has all kinds of places we can throw tolls into the mix with all there fun Highways.
    Like I said before add tolls for people comming into NJ form PA and charge them like 5 bucks or whatever they feel like. I mean if you have to pay all sorts of money to get into NYC than why can’t we charge Tuckiens all sorts of money to come into our state?
    It will be interesting too see what will happen if they start adding tolls to rt 78 and rt 80.
    I mean look how many people whined when they started doing road construction on Route 78. Imagine how much all those people would whine about tolls being added, but I say go for it. Add tolls, make those commuters with there 6 figure salaries pay for there comuting. I say raise the bus fairs raise train fairs, yes maybe I am horrible for saying that but thats another reason I would never commute like so many people do to NYC everyday. They have you by the haha lala’s and lets say it cost you 400.00/month to commute to the city every month, well they can always raise it so it costs you 600.00 and you either pay or leave, and with a declining housing market commuters better hope that NJ government doesn’t get any bright ideas about raising costs of commuting.

  11. skep-tic says:

    ever wonder why CT taxes are so much lower than NY and NJ? they’re pretty similar states (particularly CT and NJ).

    people say lower taxes are impossible, but they have them there

  12. SAS says:

    good one Homer.


  13. Housingbear says:

    East Kalifornia formerly known as New Jersey.
    or maybe
    Democratic Peoples Republic of New Jersey

  14. Kim says:

    Just so you know, Homer, not everyone who works in NYC and lives in NJ makes a huge 6-figure salary. I know plenty of people who make only $50-$60K working in NYC, and have to work there because they can’t find anything comparable in NJ, even after commuting expenses.

  15. danno says:

    To Skeptic
    CT real estate taxes may be lower but they have many other hidden taxes. For example you pay a tax every year based on the blue book value of every car you own, same goes if you happen to own a 20 foot whaler or a yacht…and you may pay less property tax but your home will probably cost more in the first place…take two similar towns in terms of income demographics – Rumson NJ & New Canaan CT. You will likely get a comparable home cheaper in Rumson than in New Canaan

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