Lou in the News

New Jersey April Revenue Collections 5.3% Below Budget Goals

May 15, 2012
By Stacie Servetah and Terrence Dopp

New Jersey's April revenue was 5.3 percent below Governor Chris Christie’s targets as income and business taxes fell short, leaving collections $230 million behind forecasts for the first 10 months of this fiscal year.
The state collected $3.26 billion last month, less than its projection of $3.44 billion. Income taxes were 2.8 percent less than forecast and corporate levies were 22.1 percent under budget, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said in a statement.

Christie, 49, a first-term Republican, had predicted that April revenue would rise from $3.32 billion a year earlier. He has touted the “Jersey Comeback,” saying that tax cuts are possible now that the state’s “fiscal house is in order.” His $32.1 billion spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 predicts a 7.3 percent increase in revenue, the most since before the recession that began in December 2007.

“It’s now becoming clear the governor has built his plan on a shaky foundation,” Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, a Camden Democrat, said in a statement. Christie declined to comment after a hospital groundbreaking in Camden.

Christie is counting on a revenue gain to fund a 10 percent across-the-board income-tax cut. He has prodded Democrats, who control the Legislature, to pass his plan. Lawmakers have made counterproposals that would give middle-class residents property-tax credits on income-tax returns.

Discussions Continue

Christie, Democrat in face-off on tax relief

May 1, 2012
By Charles Stile

Governor Christie slammed Assembly Democrats as liars last week, but his real target was Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, champion of his party's proposed 20 percent property tax credit.

"They're playing the oldest scam in the book," Christie said of the proposal. "They're hoping you won't read the fine print."

Actually, it's not a scam, and no one is lying. It's the art of political advertising, the boiling down of a complicated policy into an easy-to-digest bumper sticker slogan. Christie is very skilled at the practice.

Take, for example, his competing plan, an across-the-board 10 percent cut in income tax rates, announced with great fanfare in his State of the State address in January. The fine print there made no mention that the tax cut barely provides enough relief for a middle-class family to buy a bag of groceries – and that's only after it's fully phased in by 2014. The biggest winners would be those who earn the most — Christie's affluent GOP base.

But the fact is that the escalating war of words between Christie and Greenwald, a Camden County Democrat, has little to do with fine print. It's about competing philosophies of governing. And it's about the competing ambitions of both men.

Christie rejects assemblyman's repeated requests to debate tax relief

April 30, 2012
By Jarrett Renshaw

TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie said he has more important things to do than debate Assemblyman Lou Greenwald on tax relief.

"I have to rearrange my sock drawer," Christie said today during a news conference in Plainsboro.

Greenwald, who has repeatedly requested a debate, responded quickly, saying the governor used sarcasm to avoid the facts. Greenwald (D-Camden) said it was the governor who said he would debate anyone on his income tax relief plan, but reneged when he accepted the challenge.

"If the governor thinks rearranging his sock drawer is more pressing than working to boost property tax relief to working families, then that says a lot about his disregard for the middle class," Greenwald said in a statement. "Still, I’d be more than happy to come over to help him as long as we can have this conversation."

Greenwald’s plan would give all property owners a tax credit equal to 20 percent of their property taxes. The credit would be applied against their income taxes and relies on establishment of a millionaire’s tax. Greenwald is considering a run for governor.

Christie has called Greenwald’s plan "dead on arrival" because of the millionaire’s tax, and has instead begun talks with Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), who is calling for a similar, though more modest, property tax credit.

Christie wants to cut income taxes by 10 percent across the board, arguing that everyone deserves tax relief. He also said it would help spur economic development by attracting companies to the state.


Democrats push for property tax relief

Bergen Record
By Kim Leuddeke
May 4, 2012

SADDLE BROOK – Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, D-Camden, continued his push for the Assembly Democrats' property tax relief plan at the home of a township resident Thursday, his second such visit in two weeks.

Greenwald, accompanied by Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, D-Paramus, and Assemblyman Timothy Eustace, D-Maywood, visited the home of Brunell Johnson, a caseworker for the Bergen County Board of Social Services who has two sons, ages 16 and 12.

Before an audience of reporters and staffers, Greenwald quizzed Johnson about her property taxes, which she said were about $8,600 this year — more than 10 percent of what she earns annually.

Under the Assembly Democrats' plan, which they claim would provide tax credits to most homeowners, Greenwald said she would stand to receive more financial relief than she would under Governor Christie's plan, which would cut income taxes by 10 percent.

Christie and the Assembly Democrats have been busy in recent weeks trying to drum up support for their competing tax plans. Christie visited Garfield on Wednesday to pitch his agenda and to criticize the Assembly Democrats, whose plan he has dismissed because it includes the so-called millionaires' tax. Meanwhile, Greenwald visited the home of a Mercer County family last month, spoke to the AARP via a "tele-town hall" meeting, and has challenged Christie to a debate, an invitation Christie has declined. Greenwald renewed his call for a debate Thursday.

Courier Post: Property tax relief offers more help

Courier Post Editorial Board
May 1, 2012

Big talk about tax reductions should be music to most New Jerseyans’ ears ... if they believe the governor and their legislators. Trust politicians? OK, let’s not get too excited.

But if it does happen, which form of tax relief is best for New Jersey? We don’t think there’s much to argue.

While a reduction of the state income tax, proposed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie, would be welcome, a reduction of property taxes (really money back to taxpayers based on their property taxes) would be better. Why? It is property taxes, now approaching $7,900 a year for the average New Jersey homeowner, that cause the most pain for residents, particularly seniors and others on fixed incomes.

So, in considering the options, we think the Democrats’ plan for a property tax credit of at least 10 percent is what should come to fruition.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester is pitching a plan that would be a credit of 10 percent on property taxes (up to $1,000) for households earning less than $250,000. Democratic leaders in the state Assembly, including Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, D-Camden, are pitching a plan that calls for a credit of up to 20 percent on property taxes. The big difference between the two plans (besides the percentage) is that Greenwald’s calls for raising the income tax rate on millionaires in New Jersey while Sweeney’s plan doesn’t.