touted his proposal to cut income taxes by 10 percent and urged the state Legislature to approve the plan by the June 30 deadline.
“I laid out an ambitious agenda in January of things that had to get done this year. This is my assignment to the legislature, real tax relief to everybody in New Jersey, teacher tenure reform and merit reform…Medicare reform… and they cram it all in during the last 30 days. Welcome to the New Jersey State Legislature.”
Christie’s proposed 10 percent across-the-board income tax cut is scheduled to be phased in over three years—2013, 2014 and 2015. Because the state’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30, the actual tax cut would be spread across four budget years, essentially providing taxpayers with a 1.67 percent income tax cut in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2013, 3.33 percent more in Fiscal Year 2014, another 3.33 percent in Fiscal Year 2015, and the final 1.67 percent in Fiscal Year 2016.
According to , budget documents and public statements by the governor and other administration officials pegged the cost of the phased-in income tax cut at $183.3 million in the first year and just under $1.1 billion when fully implemented. But the NJ Spotlight analysis showed that the actual first-year cost of the income tax cut to be $197.3 million; when the cost is fully implemented in FY 2016, it could easily top $1.3 billion.
On Thursday, Christie said the proposal was a sign that it is time for the state to begin making the same concessions that residents have had to make, and argued that tax cuts, not tax increases, are key to an economically healthy New Jersey. He also criticized calls for a gas tax, including by
“When I was elected in November 2009, eight years before that day, the legislature and governor of this state raised taxes and fees at the state level 115 times,” he said. “So to put some perspective on that, taxes were increased every 25 days for eight years.
“When I became governor I said ‘enough.’ Until we can look you in the eye and say that every dollar you send to us is spent wisely by the state, then we shouldn’t be asking you for another nickel. So they sent me two income tax increases, and I vetoed both of them.”
Tax increases, he said, have a negative effect no only on the wallets of residents, but on the overall health of the state, and that making New Jersey more competitive for business is one goal to his tax reform proposals.
“What they don’t tell you is that because of the increase in taxes, $70 billion in wealth has left the state…they think you are an endless, bottomless well for sending money to Trenton.”
While there has been much back and forth between Republicans and Democrats in the state, Christie did say that things have changed since he took office and that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are no loner arguing about cutting taxes, but about how best to cut taxes.
“When I was elected in November 2009, and I see a lot of you who were there that night, I got on the stage and said I was coming to Trenton to turn it upside down. You know when you see Democrats agreeing with Republicans on cutting taxes, not raising taxes, Trenton is officially upside down.”
However, he did accuse Assembly Democrats, led by Wisniewski, of not coming to the table, saying that they are the last hold outs when it comes to tax cuts.
“We need to cut taxes in New Jersey, and we need to cut income taxes in the next 30 days,” he said.
After his speech, residents in attendance got to ask questions. The questions ranged from his stance on online gambling, to possibly consolidating the state’s nearly 600 school districts, to why he decided to not run for president.
East Brunswick resident Diane Spino said consolidating New Jersey school districts from local to county-wide would provide real property tax relief at the local level.
“We need property tax relief at the local level, and the only way I can see a major property tax reduction is by merging the school systems into one district per county and eliminating all the duplicated services that exist,” said Spino.
Gov. Christie said he supports shared services and that there is a bill being considered by the senate that would begin forcing shared services in municipalities across the state.
“The forcing will occur by the simple fact that, if you aren’t doing shared services for something that will save you money, then we are going to cut your aid by that much,” he said.
However, consolidation of services such as education, garbage, police and more will take time.
“It’s going to be a process, because it’s going to be a sea change in the way people govern in New Jersey,” he said.
Sammy Steinlight, a member of EBJC, asked if the governor thought that national Republican politicians are putting blind faith into nominees running for President this year.
Gov. Christie turned the topic to a President Barack Obama’s inability to be non-partisan.
“A lot of promises were made, a lot of promises, and the president who we elected in 2008, who talked about hope and about being non-partisan and ending the partisan divide in DC, but for his first two years in Washington, he met once with the Republican leader of the House,” he said.
“You don’t cross the partisan divide if you’re not in the same room.”
Another EBJC member, Jeremy Merkel, got applause when he asked why the governor isn’t running for president this year.
“You’re an incredible asset to us here in New Jersey. Don’t you think that Washington needs a politician like you?” asked Merkel.
Gov. Christie said that he intends to finish the job to which he was elected:
“The decision I made last fall was that when I ran for the job in 2009, I made a commitment to people in state,” he said. “They were in really bad shape at the time and people were worried about the future at that time and they took a chance on me.
“It didn’t feel right. I had to stay here, I wanted to stay here, and I had to finish the job I started,” he said.