PARSIPPANY — Governor Phil Murph’s budget proposed fiscal year 2020 budget will do nothing to help the middle class and will likely do more to harm the state’s economy said Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R- Morris, Essex Passaic).
DeCroce said the governor’s plan to increase spending and taxes and broadening programs, such free county college tuition, will not reduce property taxes — the number one issue for the middle class in New Jersey.
“The governor says repeatedly he wants to help the middle class, but he actions do not back up his statements,” said DeCroce.
“The governor wants the state to spend more money; he wants to expand programs and increase school funding. But the state cannot afford the programs it has now, so how is increasing taxes and spending more money help the middle class?” asked DeCroce.
The assemblywoman noted that under the current state school aid formula – any proposed increases in state aid will go disproportionately to the districts that are already getting the lion’s share of state aid — and the middle class, mostly suburban districts will get no meaningful increase in state aid.
“The reality is that any increase in school aid that would go to Parsippany or West Milford will be so small – and will be offset by increases in salaries and other expenses – that the impact on property taxes will be nil,” said DeCroce. In the proposed FY 2020 budget West Milford will lose $950,000 in state aid, Jefferson will lose $1.19 million while Parsippany will receive a modest $561,000 increase to offset its $150 million school budget – or 0.37 percent of the district’s budget that is supported by local taxpayers.
“The governor is intent on raising taxes and spending more of our tax money without bothering to find out where our tax money is going now. Three times in the last year I have asked the governor to work with me to audit education spending in New Jersey and find out where $28 billion of our tax dollars are going before spending more money. But the governor refuses,” said DeCroce.
Murphy’s budget proposal includes adding $283 million in funding for the Homestead Benefits program which is supposed to offset property taxes. DeCroce said that the program reaches few people in the middle class and offers minimal tax relief. The program cuts off benefits for non-senior households that earn more than $75,000 and senior households that make more than $150,000.
But the average household income in NJ is over $100,000 and the median income is $76,000 – making most new Jersey homeowners ineligible for the Homestead program. DeCroce also noted that the program calculates taxes at their 2006 level, is two years behind in granting the rebates which average only a couple hundred dollars and are paid, not as tax rebate, but as a tax credit.
“The home benefits tax credit program is another smokescreen from this administration to make it appear that they are providing help to the middle class; in reality the Homestead tax credit is inaccessible to the majority of middle-class homeowners in the state,” said DeCroce. ” What the homeowners need is comprehensive tax reform, and that starts with cutting spending, not increasing it.”
Finally, said DeCroce the governor’s plan to “tax the rich” is self-defeating.
New Jersey already has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the country and the highest property taxes and a tax surcharge on those making over $5 million; now the governor wants to add a millionaire’s tax, which, as history shows, has not worked.
DeCroce said taxing high earners, who are often job producers, is counterproductive, as New York State is learning. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo whose state is facing a $2.3 billion budget hole was recently lamenting the fact that increasing taxes on high earners has spawned an exodus of wealthy people from his state
“This is the flip side. Tax the rich, tax the rich, tax the rich,” Cuomo said in a published report last month. “We did. Now, God forbid, the rich leave.”