Governor’s “Toolkit” is Not the Silver Bullet for Property Taxes (Dec. '10 Constituent Newsletter)

By Senator Jim Beach, Assemblyman Lou Greenwald & Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt

Several months ago, Governor Christie unveiled a package of legislative proposals which he described as a “toolkit” for local governments and school districts to keep down property taxes, now that New Jersey has a historic 2% cap on property taxes. We have held numerous hearings and closely studied these measures—listening to you, the taxpayers, as we evaluated the Governor’s so-called “toolkit.” As a result, we have passed many of these proposals and sent them to the Governor’s desk in 2010.

We have approached these complex pieces legislation thoughtfully and deliberately. On some issues—including a bill to cut government spending by streamlining the sample ballot process—the Governor has agreed with our ideas. On others, including arbitration reform, we have worked together productively toward bipartisan compromise. As a result, true arbitration reform will be signed into law today.

For some issues, such as civil service reform and cracking down on taxpayer-funded “golden parachutes” for unused sick leave, we continue to negotiate with the Governor and work toward the best possible compromise for the families of New Jersey.

Unfortunately, despite deliberate, good-faith efforts on many of these bills, the Governor continues to attack the Legislature for supposed inaction. This approach is unproductive and disappointing, especially considering that quite a few of these “toolkit” measures have been passed by both houses and merely await his action. Instead of prodding the Legislature, the Governor should take his pen and sign into law the legislation on his desk. Moving forward, we hope the Governor will work productively with us.

Make no mistake, the Governor’s “toolkit” is no silver bullet to lower property taxes, and time will tell if his proposals prove effective. As we have always done, we will listen to any ideas to cut government spending and rein in out-of-control property taxes—whether they come from Democrats, Republicans, or Independents. As we approach the new year, we pledge to continue working tirelessly to deliver real property tax reform for New Jersey families.

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