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Raise taxes on the rich and reject budget cuts, N.J. groups urge Trenton

Friday, May 20, 2016   (0 Comments)
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NJ.com 05/20/16

Three dozen progressive and labor organizations sent a letter to state lawmakers Thursday urging them to consider the needs and well-being of its neediest residents in upcoming budget negotiations. The groups made their plea a day after budget officials announced sluggish personal income tax collections had created a $1 billion shortfall in budgets spanning two years, including the fiscal year ending June 30 and the year beginning July 1. The state treasurer has suggested making spending cuts and delaying payment of business tax credits to balance next year's budget. Gov. Chris Christie's proposed budget, which he introduced in February, includes no new taxes or funding solution for the Transportation Trust Fund and sets aside $1.86 billion for government worker pensions.

The coalition that signed onto the letter, however, is asking lawmakers to raise taxes on New Jersey's businesses and wealthiest residents to raise money to invest in schools, roads, protect drinking water and the environment and improve access to quality health care. "New Jersey's economy is fundamentally out of balance due to six years of failed fiscal policies that have given billions in tax cuts to the state's wealthiest residents and corporations while balancing increasingly depleted coffers through cuts and the elimination of programs that hurt struggling families across our state," the groups said in the letter. "New Jersey residents are paying more in tuition, transit fares, property taxes and fees while getting less for what we pay," they said.

The signers also questioned the wisdom of a bipartisan proposal to eliminate the estate tax, which would eventually cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars a year, given the state's constant tug-of-war for tax dollars. "How can we entertain millions in additional tax cuts for the wealthiest estates, or investors while telling our homeowners and those struggling to keep their homes that there are no funds for relief?" the letter said. Proponents of that proposal say it will stem the outmigration of wealthy residents fleeing the onerous death tax that is depressing the state economy. Among the groups signed onto the letter are the New Jersey Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union, the Anti-Poverty Network, the Sierra Club, New Jersey Policy Perspective, a progressive think tank, the Latino Action Network, the National Organization for Women of New Jersey and the NAACP, Newark branch.

They're requesting lawmakers raise taxes on income over $1 million, enact a surcharge on corporate income, close corporate tax loopholes, scrutinize corporate tax breaks and find $2 billion annually to support the Transportation Trust Fund, which is scheduled to run out of money for new projects this summer. On that last point, they discouraged the Legislature from proposals that tie funding for the trust fund through a gas tax hike to an estate tax cut or creation of a deduction for charitable giving.

 


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