New Jersey state Republicans are pushing what they call a "Middle-Class Reform Agenda" championed by Gov. Chris Christie that would create a 10 percent property tax credit, but their bill is virtually identical to one proposed and then abandoned by Democrats earlier this year.
According to the Newark Star-Ledger
, the tax break would be capped at $1,000 and phased in over four years, the same approach Democrats planned on before withdrew their plan in June because of the state's continuing economic difficulties.
Democratic state Budget Committee Chairman Vincent Prieto noted that the Christie administration is still facing "major fiscal problems."
"Property taxes are up a net 20 percent. Unemployment is 9.9 percent ... The administration itself has warned of a ‘significant’ surplus reduction.," Prieto said, according to the Star-Ledger. But he said Democrats were still open to considering a tax cut, depending on what the economic outlook is for the state at year's end.
Christie insists a tax cut should be the lawmakers’ top priority because a reduction would encourage hiring and investments. He originally wanted a 10 percent, across-the-board income tax cut, but eventually agreed to target property taxes instead.
The new Republican-sponsored bill would apply to residents who earn up to $400,000 a year. , Democrats had set a cap of $250,000 in their bill, but they have freed up enough money in the state’s budget to expand the eligibility, if the state’s economy improves by the end of the year.
The Democrats said the GOP bill’s other provisions, such as full financing for the Earned Income Tax Credit and shoring up homestead property tax rebates, were also part of their plan.
"There’s no argument about the tax plan," said Derek Roseman, a spokesman for Democratic Senate President Stephen Sweeney. "The governor endorsed the Senate president’s plan and that’s plain to see. The difference here is in fiscal responsibility."
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