New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is trying to cut state income taxes for the first time since former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman did it nearly 20 years ago, according to the Bergen County Record
But opponents say the timing is bad and may get worse, given the state’s debt and rising property taxes, which they say began moving upward not long after Whitman’s cuts took effect in 1994.
“I think there are lessons we can learn from that,” said Gordon MacInnes, president of the liberal New Jersey Policy Perspective. “The circumstances for this tax cut are more dangerous.”
Democrats who oppose Christie’s income tax proposal say it should be targeted instead at property tax relief, which the Record reported is now mentioned most often in polls as the biggest concern among New Jersey voters.
According to the newspaper, the average New Jersey homeowner paid a record-high of $7,759 in property taxes last year. State Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald calls the property tax “the most crippling, destructive tax we have.”
“It’s strangling our families,” the Democrat said last week as he pitched his own tax relief proposal.
Christie, however, appears determined to press ahead, just as Whitman did two decades ago, under the belief that cutting income taxes now as the state is beginning to climb out of the recession will provide a boost to the economy and create more jobs.
“If we cut income taxes in this state you’re going to see more growth in the private sector, we’ll be more competitive with our neighbors. That’s all going to be very helpful to us,” Christie.
Jerry Cantrell, president of the pro-free market Common Sense Institute of New Jersey, agrees.
“I think that that’s the justification for it,” Cantrell told the Record. “We need a shot in the arm to send a positive message that we are optimistic.”
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