Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Analysis: The More You Earn, The Better Christie's Property Tax Record Looks

Gov. Chris Christie yesterday claimed victory in the battle against property taxes, touting a 1.3 percent statewide increase in 2013 as evidence that his programs are working. But Christie’s approach to property taxes has benefited wealthier New Jerseyans more than middle-income and working-class homeowners.

Analysis: The More You Earn, The Better Christie’s Property Tax Record Looks

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering at a town hall-style meeting in Flemington, N.J. Christie´s approach to property taxes has benefited wealthier New Jerseyans more than middle-income and working-class homeowners. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering at a town hall-style meeting in Flemington, N.J. Christie's approach to property taxes has benefited wealthier New Jerseyans more than middle-income and working-class homeowners. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Gov. Chris Christie yesterday claimed victory in the battle against property taxes, touting a 1.3 percent statewide increase in 2013 as evidence that his programs are working. But Christie’s approach to property taxes has benefited wealthier New Jerseyans more than middle-income and working-class homeowners.

For families and individuals earning more than $150,000, Christie’s success in limiting average property tax increases to 9.7 percent during his first four-year term is a clear improvement over the 20.1 percent hike during his Democratic predecessor Jon Corzine’s four years in office.

But that’s not the case for homeowners making up to $75,000, senior citizens earning up to $150,000 and renters whose large Corzine-era property tax rebates were cut or eliminated by Christie. With the cuts in the rebates included, net property taxes for lower- and middle-income residents actually rose 20.3 percent under Christie compared to 14.1 percent in Corzine’s four years, a New Jersey Spotlight analysis of state Department of Community Affairs property tax tables shows.

Assessing the impact on property taxes of the 2 percent cap, the pension and health benefits overhaul, and limits on interest arbitration pushed through by Christie in partnership with state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and other Democratic legislative leaders is critical to the ongoing debate over whether New Jersey needs to cut its highest-in-the-nation property taxes or simply continue to limit property tax growth:

  • New Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden), who has been the leading proponent of property tax reform in the Legislature, pledged in January to make property taxes their top priority. Greenwald proposed a 20 percent property tax deduction of up to $2,000 on state income taxes that would have been funded partly by a millionaire’s tax in 2012. He has discussed allowing municipalities to levy local sales taxes, as towns in other states do, and is one of a growing number of Democrats who are open to the idea of calling a constitutional convention for property tax reform.

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