As reported by nj.com, Governor Chris Christie challenged lawmakers last May to pass a series of bills he said would lower property taxes, but a year later, with only some of the reforms enacted, property taxes are up $1 billion. Depending on who’s talking, the impasse on Christie’s reform package, what he calls the “tool kit,” speaks to either the governor’s poor vision and execution, or the Legislature’s lack of urgency and political courage.
Although some big pieces of his reform effort have been enacted, Christie has repeatedly criticized lawmakers in recent weeks for failing to clear the remaining bills. He labels them “do-nothing” legislators who get poor grades for choosing special interests over lower property taxes. Democratic legislative leaders counter Christie by blaming him for both designing a flawed blueprint to lower property taxes, and for being unwilling to compromise on some of the measures that lawmakers have advanced with amendments. Regardless of which side is right, property owners in New Jersey continue to be the losers during the yearlong debate because they are stuck with average annual property tax bills that continue to rise toward $10,000.
The average property tax bill in New Jersey increased last year by $295 to a record high of $7,576. That increase came during a year that saw Christie and lawmakers pass a state budget that replaced $1,000 property tax rebate checks with a small credit that was not realized until earlier this year.
Once again, each side is blaming the other for the increase in property tax bills. Christie says the Democrats own the increase because they have not moved all of his legislation. Democrats say Christie’s bills, even if passed, would have had a marginal effect at best in the face of state school aid cuts and the loss of the rebates.
The full article on nj.com shows where things stand right now with the key pieces of Christie’s proposed “tool kit” reforms, to include what has passed, what has stalled, and what they are saying.