A Story of Mass Hysteria Caused by a Budget Not Yet Introduced; Rated P for “Premature”
Republican members of the Senate Budget Committee today expressed bewilderment at the use of the committee’s time to hold a hearing on Governor Christie’s proposed income tax plan weeks ahead of the Governor’s Budget Message:
Senator Tony Bucco (R- Morris), Republican Budget Officer
The Governor’s tax plan should receive a full vetting and analysis- once the budget is introduced and we can see it in context. Today’s hearing was a purely political exercise conducted without the benefit of having all the facts in front of us. We will get all the information we need next month when the budget is introduced. Until we have a budget to use as context, trying to come to conclusions about the plan is premature.
Senator Kevin O’Toole (R- Essex)
The information presented to the committee today clearly shows that state revenues were stable or slightly increased in previous years when income taxes were cut, which hardly suggests the sky will fall as opponents have suggested. However, we cannot make any true assumptions about the budgetary impact of cutting income taxes until we have a budget to work with. I suspect that the Majority’s insistence on having a hearing without all the facts is a result of its extreme level of discomfort at the idea of allowing taxpayers to keep more of their hard earned dollars in their paychecks.
Senator Steven Oroho (R- Sussex)
Without seeing the income tax in the context of a budget, my friends in the Majority are already dismissing the proposal and instead proposing to subsidize higher property taxes through increased property tax credits. The income tax is an incredibly important factor for businesses deciding where to locate or expand, especially for small businesses and partnerships, and directly impacts job creation. By contrast, using income tax dollars to subsidize out of control spending at any level of government has not in history slowed the growth in property taxes or mitigated the property tax burden in a substantial way. Fair school funding and passing the remaining toolkit bills are the way to directly affect property taxes. Lowering the total cost of government and lowering tax rates will make New Jersey competitive again.
Senator Joseph Pennacchio (R- Morris)
I’m ready, willing, and able to address the single biggest driver of local tax levies, school funding and our inequitable and unfair system of funding schools. However, an income tax cut is aimed at job creation and making New Jersey a more competitive place for businesses and more affordable for families, which is equally important. A small decrease is a good first step to making New Jersey more competitive with states like Pennsylvania which charges a top rate of 3%, or Delaware which has no state income tax at all.
Senator Jennifer Beck (R- Monmouth)
The Committee could have spent its time today addressing bills that have been pending for two years to control local government spending. Instead, we held a hearing about a budget issue that hasn’t yet been presented to the Legislature. We need to have a serious discussion about New Jersey’s anti-competitive tax climate and the merits of cutting the income tax once it is formally presented by the Governor next month. In the interim, the committee should focus on the remaining toolkit bills that have been stalled by special interest politics.