Source: Asbury Park Press -
Assembly Democrats are now on board with their Senate colleagues in pushing for higher income taxes on wealthy households to avoid cutting the pension payment in New Jersey’s 2015 budget.
Details of the Assembly Democrats’ budget blueprint remain sketchy, although Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Hudson, said he hopes the spending plan and associated tax increases will be approved by the Assembly next Thursday. The deadline to adopt a budget is June 30.“This is the same old tired song we hear repeatedly at budget time.” – Assemblywoman Bettylou DeCroce, R-Morris.
“A back-breaker for job-creators.” – Assemblyman Christopher Brown, R-Burlington.
Prieto said he hoped to start the income-tax hike at $1 million, rather than at the $500,000 level proposed Wednesday by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester. He said other details envisioned by Senate Democrats, including a 15 percent surcharge on corporate business taxes and a one-year suspension of some grants to businesses, are similarly subject to ongoing talks.
“The way I look at it, the state of New Jersey has a revenue problem. I don’t think it has a spending problem,” Prieto said.
The Assembly proposes additional spending that wasn’t included in the Senate’s plan and lacks the detail about revenue-raisers that Sweeney announced a day earlier.
Whatever the details of the Democrats’ compromise turn out to be, the plan will be vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.
“Different day, same plan for an already severely overtaxed state,” said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak.
This would be the fourth time Democratic lawmakers sent Christie a so-called “millionaires tax.” The governor vetoed similar plans in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Foremost among the obligations that Democrats say are being shirked is a $2.25 billion payment to the pension funds, rather than the $681 million Christie is proposing to offset reductions in the forecast for income tax collections. Unions have gone to court seeking to block the cuts in both the current and upcoming budgets, which total nearly $2.5 billion.
Union leaders cheered the plan, as they did the Senate’s proposal. Business organizations and Republicans criticized it.
“This is the same old tired song we hear repeatedly at budget time,” said Assemblywoman Bettylou DeCroce, R-Morris, of the more detailed Senate plan.
“A back-breaker for job-creators,” said Assemblyman Christopher Brown, R-Burlington.