Assembly Democrats…Christie’s call for immediate tax cut is theater

TRENTON – It doesn’t appear Democrats in the Assembly are willing to heed Gov. Chris Christie’s requests for tax relief anytime soon let alone before the upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend.

Speaker Sheila Oliver, (D-34), of East Orange, and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, (D-6), of Voorhees,  said Monday that Christie sent a message during the special session to basically give credence to the fact that revenue collections have been falling short of expectations.

Oliver said the Legislature is willing to work with Christie if his revenue projections hold.

Greenwald dismissed Christie’s plea for immediate tax relief altogether, with he and Oliver rejecting the idea that it was an emergent matter.

“This is theater…This is an opportunity for him to stand on the grand stage.”

Oliver also dismissed the notion that proposing a separate millionaire’s tax was the wrong thing to do in hindsight, since Christie conditionally vetoed it and used it to his advantage by proposing the Senate Democrats’ income tax cut plan in place of it.

“It was not a tactical detour on the part of Assembly Democrats,” she said.

Greenwald said the tax cut Christie supports amounts to a “small pittance” that would not fill up the gas tank, let alone a summer rental.

Oliver said no other state in the country has predicted the kind of revenue realization that New Jersey has.

The speaker said Democrats have supported tax cuts, as evidenced by the fact business tax cuts have been included in the 2013 budget. She said it’s now time to provide property tax relief to working-class and middle class families.

“It’s time to flip the switch.”

The Democrats said they will ignore the taunts Christie will inevitably give the public during his summer tour promoting tax cuts.

Assembly Democrats have for months proposed a property tax cut plan ranging between 20 and 25 percent. To help pay for it, they proposed a millionaire’s tax, despite Christie’s constant statements that it’d be vetoed. Christie has been far more receptive, and again expressed public support, for the property tax cut/income tax cut plan propsoed by Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) of West Deptford. That plan would provide an income tax cut equivalent to about a resident’s property taxes being cut by 10 percent. 

When asked about the differences between the two chambers’ tax-cut proposals, Oliver advised not to read too much into it. “At the end of the day, we will make a determination collectively about what direction we are willing to go.’’

“The Assembly has a different point of view. The Senate never initially went in the direction we went in,’’ she said.

The Assembly pushed the millionaire’s tax and a property tax cut that was structured differently than the Senate’s. “All ideas are good ideas,’’ Oliver said. “The majorities in both houses will reach the same place.’’