TRENTON – In what initially looks like a pro forma execution of the inevitable, the Democratic Assembly seeks passage of the millionaires’ tax bill that – in his own pro forma execution of the inevitable – Republican Gov. Chris Christie said he would veto.
“We are fundamentally here to help men and women who can’t afford to pay their property taxes,” argues Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), chairman of the State Democratic Party, in the lead-up to the aye vote.
The session avoids the realm of pure kabuki when Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Twp.) objects to the bill as an object of debate separate from the budget, and as a murmur runs through the legislature about budget revenue projections falling far short, which could curtail the state’s ability to generate $637 million from a tax uptick on millionaires.
In any event, Republican Conference Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) cautions the legislature about sending a chilling message to buisness owners, entrepreneurs and risk takers.
“A tax is a tax is a tax, and the people of New Jersey are tired,” Bramick says. “All the rhetoric in the world is not going to allow this governor to send another tax to the people.”
According to the Office of Legislative Services, in an effort to generate the $637 million for seniors and safety net programs, the bill would adjust income taxation from 8.97% to 10.75% for those estimated 17,800 people making $1 million and more.
Noting the governor’s commitment to crushing the bill, Assemblyman Sam Thompson (R-Old Bridge) says of the Democrats’ efforts, “Great political theater, I congratulate you.”
Arguing for the tax, Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro) says, “Seniors cannot afford an average 16-17% tax increase; and I’m hoping as we move along here that the governor realizes this is the way to go.”
It’s a back and forth the Republicans know they will lose in the chamber – but ultimately win with the governor’s veto pen.
Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Parsippany) echoes Thompson’s assessment that the Democrats are play-acting.
“You didn’t have to allow the (so-called) millionaires tax to sunset,” DeCroce grouses.