Top Democrats Propose 20 Percent Property Tax Cut

Republicans and Democrats disagree about how to institute a tax cut for New Jersey residents. Gov. Chris Christie has proposed a 10 percent income tax cut across the board while Democrats want property tax relief, which they say will benefit more residents. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald sat down with NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider to explain their tax cut proposal and comment on other current events.

Christie has said any tax cut plan that includes a millionaire’s tax will not be implemented. The Assembly plan has such a component, but Oliver said it’s worth fighting for to at least raise awareness. “I think that it elevates in the consciousness of residents in this state that relief can be provided to them and it is a political ideology that is preventing their pocketbook from being less flattened,” she said.

Greenwald said he is part of the leadership in a co-equal branch of government. “The governor doesn’t agree with us about on the fact that this should be about property taxes and this is the most meaningful relief that people would feel,” he said. “Why isn’t he asked to back away? We are responding to the needs that the constituents have asked of us.” Greenwald said property taxes are prohibiting many from living in New Jersey.

Greenwald said the Assembly tax cut plan is very similar to Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s, though it does include eliminating tax breaks for those who earn more than $1 million annually. “The only people that will be asked to have some tax breaks eliminated are 16,000 individuals making a million dollars a year or more. That represents less than two-tenths of one percent of the population,” he explained. “We know right now that asking those people to share … we can provide immediate 20 percent property tax relief for 95 percent of the households.”

Oliver said she doesn’t believe the proposal is unreasonable. “The governor came into office talking about shared sacrifice,” she said. “You can look across every stratum in Trenton. Every population segment has participated in shared sacrifice except those that are at the top of the income scale.”

Both Oliver and Greenwald agree that if allegations against employees in the state treasury department claiming they spied on tax records of fellow employees are true, those workers must be disciplined. “The bottom line is the integrity of that department can never come under question,” Greenwald said. “There has to be zero tolerance here.”

Oliver commented on the allegations that state troopers served as chaperones to sports cars on the Garden State Parkway, saying the matter should be looked into. “I believe that there has to be an investigation,” she said. “I don’t have all of the information available to me at this point, but i think once a thorough investigation is conducted, whoever bore responsibility for allowing that to occur, they have to be subjected to personnel action.”

Oliver said she would be supporting Donald Payne Jr. in the 10th congressional district to replace his late father. She said she would “absolutely not” run for governor. Greenwald also said he was not going to run for governor.