From the Asbury Park Press:
When will the New Jersey Legislature learn the simple lesson that every family and wage-earner in this state already knows — that you can’t spend money you don’t have. I’ve yet to see any elected official apply the same common sense to spending money that most working men and women do as a matter of survival.
When politicians want to spend more money, they increase tax rates or borrow money. Taxpayers can’t. Our incomes are dictated to us by the companies that employ us. Sometimes that means going years without a raise, while the cost of everything else increases.
About 25 years ago, New Jersey imposed a 4 percent cap on municipal and county spending increases to control property taxes. But it allowed municipalities to exceed the limits under certain circumstances.
Today, the Legislature is proposing the same solution, along with adjustments to individual tax bills based upon ability to pay. Is this really a step forward in property tax reform? No, there are still loopholes. The Legislature failed to restrict the amount of money governments can borrow in a single budget year. The more money a municipality borrows to fund current projects, the more taxes it needs to collect later. The legislation failed to require governments to pay back at least 25 percent of its debts in its current budget before it could borrow money again.
The legislation failed to impose a cap on the annual increase in property tax rates. Capping annual spending increases without capping rate increases provides no direct relief to the majority of property taxpayers, who would receive no adjustment under the current legislation.
The legislation exempted selected items in municipal and county budgets from the cap. You can’t get property taxes under control unless you put limits on all spending.