Senator Joe Pennacchio, R-Morris and Passaic, said he will continue to monitor transparency in the spending of federal stimulus aid in New Jersey, after Governor Corzine announced that he has finally taken the first steps toward helping taxpayers track where their money is going.
Starting in June, Pennacchio issued repeated news releases pointing out that it has been impossible for taxpayers to use the state’s Web site to track stimulus spending, despite Governor Corzine’s promises of transparency. The governor announced today that the Web site, www.nj.gov/recovery has at last been upgraded to include features that other states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida have offered for months.
Census Data Show New Jersey Has Highest Median Property Tax Bill and Six of Nation’s Ten Most Expensive Counties
New Jersey property taxpayers continue to struggle under the inability of Governor Corzine and the Democratically-controlled Legislature to address the state’s property tax problem, Republican Assemblymen James W. Holzapfel and David W. Wolfe said today after new data show New Jersey’s $6,320 median property tax bill topped the nation.
“The revelation comes to no surprise to New Jerseyans who have faced incessantly rising property tax bills while Governor Corzine and his allies in the Legislature have failed to do anything about it,” Holzapfel said. “The governor takes credit for controlling the growth of property taxes, but they have increased nearly 20 percent statewide since he has been in office.
Senator Files Appeal to State Records Council
Senator Steve Oroho, R-Sussex, Morris and Hunterdon, said he has appealed the Corzine administration’s refusal to release a report on housing growth that was presented to the State Planning Commission in March. The study reportedly shows that the Council on Affordable Housing grossly overestimated how much so-called “affordable” housing is needed in New Jersey. Oroho filed his appeal with the New Jersey Government Records Council.
“It’s impossible for our democracy to function when public and elected officials are denied the facts needed to make informed decisions,” Oroho said. “Billions of dollars of taxpayer and economic development money are at stake. The public deserves to see all the data, not just the highly suspect numbers the Corzine administration uses to support its housing policies.”
Corzine Must Reform “Extraordinary Aid” Program To Stop Mismanagement
Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) called on the Corzine Administration to acknowledge that recent grants awarded through the State’s Extraordinary Aid Program are random and unfair and to immediately reform the program. The stated purpose of the Extraordinary Aid Program, run by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), is to allow municipalities experiencing extraordinary financial problems, not of their own making, to compete for approximately $25 million in discretionary grants to mitigate property tax increases.
Senator Tom Kean, the Senate Republican Leader, issued the following comments regarding New Jersey’s last place ranking in business tax climate by the non partisan tax foundation:
“For four consecutive years, the well-respected, non-partisan tax foundation has ranked New Jersey last in its annual rankings of state business tax climate. This is a direct result of the short-sighted, radical economic policies of Governor Corzine and his allies in the Legislature.
Senator Joe Kyrillos, ranking Republican on the Senate Economic Growth Committee, expressed his disappointment that the non-partisan, non-profit Tax Foundation ranked New Jersey last in business tax climate again.
“For years my colleagues and I have been warning the Corzine Administration that their pursuit of ideologically radical economic policies was dangerous and unsustainable,” Kyrillos stated. “Now, the non-partisan Tax Foundation has ranked New Jersey dead last in business tax climate for the fourth year in a row.
“The Governor shall not have any direct or indirect interest, financial or otherwise, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity that is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of the Governor’s duties in the public interest.” — Governor Jon Corzine’s Executive Order No. 1
Senate Republican Budget Officer Anthony Bucco said Governor Corzine should re-read his Executive Order No. 1, which lays out the rules for conduct of a governor’s financial affairs. “It is obvious that the governor is invested in a hedge fund whose managers also own casinos,” Bucco said. “Clauses in Governor Corzine’s executive order No. 1 would seem to prohibit such an investment.”
Corzine Slashing Suburban and Rural Property Tax Relief by 30% to Increase Aid for Cities
Senator Steve Oroho, a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, called on Governor Corzine to impose the same cuts in Extraordinary Aid to urban towns that he already imposed on more rural and suburban towns.
“Corzine slashed Extraordinary Aid to more than 500 rural and suburban towns by 30% last month and is preparing to increase aid for about 50 more urban towns with the savings,” said Oroho. “He’s rigging property tax relief programs based on election year politics.”
Senate Republican Whip Kevin O’Toole expressed frustration at reports in the Star-Ledger that the huge Xanadu building is “eerily empty” of workers because financing of the long-delayed, $2 billion project has fallen through yet again. He also called for legislative hearings on the Xanadu project.
“Whenever anyone questioned the Corzine administration’s shaky management of Xanadu, the response has been for the governor to praise the project because it’s creating jobs,” O’Toole said. “If published accounts are correct, almost no one now is working on Xanadu at a time when New Jersey desperately needs the work.”
After Years of “Last-Resort” Increases on Sales, Business & Income Taxes, Corzine Again Says Tax Hikes Will Be Last Resort
Assembly members Dawn Marie Addiego and Scott Rudder expressed disappointment that in a rare moment of honesty from Governor Corzine to taxpayers, he all but promised more tax increases if he remains governor.
According to a story in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Governor Corzine will not rule out tax hikes but said they “should be a last resort.”