Many officials are concerned after a disappointing jobs report for July coupled with the latest state tax revenue numbers that show Gov. Chris Christie’s estimates to be too optimistic. Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1) told NJ Today Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor that while he’s concerned about the numbers, he believes creative thinking will help get the state on the right track. He also said he agrees with Christie that a tax cut should happen now, in the form of an across-the-board 10 percent property tax cut.
Van Drew, who is a member of the budget committee, said he is concerned about the tax revenue numbers, as are his colleagues. He pointed out, though, that the entire country is operating with “extraordinary challenges” that’s “going to require extraordinary action.”
Solving the problems will take a creative approach, according to Van Drew. “As I sit on the budget committee, what really comes to my mind is this whole economic recession that we were in and even the process that we’re going through now is going to require thinking out of the box and it’s going to require some unusual actions and it’s going to require New Jersey not to do business as usual,” he said.
While the tax revenues falling short of the Christie administration’s projections are a cause of concern, Van Drew said past mistakes made by both Republicans and Democrats have caused the current situation. “Quite frankly, I think we tax too much. We’ve borrowed too much over the years — again, both sides of the aisle,” he said. “And that’s not going to be instantly and easily turned around.”
Van Drew said he believes there needs to be more incentives for businesses since they are the job creators. He also believes Christie’s idea of a tax cut now is a good one.
“Frankly, people are paying a lot in property taxes. I would like to see that 10 percent cut on their property taxes and what I like about the plan is that it cuts it across the board — for working folks, for poor folks, for middle class folks and for those that are on a little bit of the upper end,” Van Drew said. “So it’s a fair plan and I’m hopeful in the future that we’ll do that.”
Some Democrats have said with revenues not meeting projections along with high unemployment and a job loss in July, that the state can’t afford to give a tax cut. Van Drew said there’s always an excuse to raise taxes and that the taxpayers deserve a bit of a break. He also said a tax cut could help grow the economy.
“If people are paying a little bit less — and I believe we could figure out ways to do this — it does put more money in their pocket and enables them to buy more, to do more, hopefully for maybe a few more businesses to grow in the state,” Van Drew said. “I think it’s a good idea and something that I’ve always supported and will continue to support.”
He said the cuts have to be made responsibly, however. “We have to make sure we don’t borrow to do it or that we don’t raid funds to do it,” he said. “And we need to be careful how we do it.”
Van Drew said the state’s high unemployment rate of 9.8 percent didn’t happen overnight. “It’s a total cumulative effect over many years,” he said. “And we can do better.” He said it will take a bipartisan effort and creative thinking to help lower the unemployment rate.