Three Democratic lawmakers on Monday proposed axing property tax rebates for most homeowners to help control state spending and avoid Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s proposed toll increases.
Sen. Jeff Van Drew and Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Matt Milam said rebates should continue only for senior citizens and disabled homeowners.
The rebates averaged $1,051 last year _ up about $700 from 2006 _ and are meant to help homeowners suffering from America’s highest property taxes, which are twice the national average at $6,330 per homeowner.
The expanded rebates were the centerpiece of Democratic efforts last year to ease the property tax burden. They were sent to households earning less than $250,000 per year. For most, the rebates equated to 20 percent of their property taxes.
The three Democrats, all from South Jersey’s 1st District, said their plan would save $1.3 billion. It comes with Corzine promising about $2.5 billion in budget cuts and proposing higher highway tolls as he looks to revamp troubled state finances.
The rebates cost the state about $2.3 billion last year, some of which was funded by the 1 percent sales tax increase from 2006. Still, voters in November rejected permanently dedicating half of that increase to property tax relief.
“The state is increasing taxes to provide relief,” Van Drew said. “It doesn’t make any sense. The people of this state spoke loud and clear this past November when they voted no on dedicating the remaining half cent to property tax relief.”
The three Democrats also want to ask voters this fall whether to permanently eliminate the rebates to save money.
“If we are wrong, let the voters tell us,” Albano said.