From the APP:
Property tax relief? Not in sight in NJ (Warning annoying autoplay video)
Tax relief doesn’t appear to be on the way anytime soon for New Jersey residents — in fact, top state lawmakers meeting here Wednesday spent much of the time talking about how to raise revenue.
During a panel discussion, the officials agreed that the New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property tax is a concern, but they focused much of the discussion at potentially raising a different tax.
Democrats on the panel said replenishing the state’s transportation trust fund is the top issue facing the Legislature and that hiking the gasoline tax is an option to address it.
“All we’re talking about is raising taxes. But first why don’t we talk about some tax that we can lower?’’ said Republican Assembly leader Jon Bramnick.
Democrats increased their advantage in the 80-seat Assembly in elections earlier this month. Outrage over New Jersey’s $8,200-average property taxes prompted nearly 14,000 people to sign an Asbury Park Press petition in the weeks leading to the vote demanding that top elected officials commit to a plan for a 10 percent property tax cut by year’s end.
Many who signed the petition included handwritten notes complaining of their inability to keep up with the staggering tax burden in the Garden State.
Many lawmakers — mostly Republicans — also signed a pledge to cut the property tax, after a Press investigation showed how property taxes increase by some $540 million annually, even with a 2 percent tax cap in place.
“Too many of our relatives are being taxed out of the state,’’ Kean said. “Too many of our friends and neighbors are moving out of the state and we need to have as our primary focus, hopefully in lame duck but also in the upcoming session (beginning in Janurary), understanding what is making the state so unaffordable.’’
Bramnick said he’d rather focus on having the state’s school-funding formula retooled “to something that’s more fair, because (much of the school funding budget of) $9 billion of our $34 billion budget goes to a limited number of school districts, and much of that money has not created success.”
“It’s time to take it away from the courts and do a constitutional amendment and make it more fair. That’s how you reduce property taxes in many of our towns and cities,’’ he said.