Two percent cap bill passes in the Assembly, 73-4

TRENTON – In a no-drama session, the 2 percent property cap tax bill passes, 73 to 4.

The legislators voting against the bill are Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-South Plainfield), Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-Ewing), Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Elizabeth) and Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville).

Chair of the Democratic State Party, Wisniewski as the dissenting vote in the most prominent position position, tells tax cap as proposed is a good idea, but ultimately unworkable, in part because the bill does not exempt existing collective bargaining agreements from the cap. 

Wisniewski says the governor personally addressed legislators on July 1 and told them it was a “fair point” to consider such an exemption.

“But the CV (conditional veto) did not have that in there,” explains the legislator, who worries about muncipalities having to lay off workers whose salaries under existing agreements push them above the cap.

Wisniewski also fears the cap’s impact on local reserves for uncollected taxes. If any given town has to increase its reserve in order to maintain the status quo, it will have to raise its levy to meet the reserve.

“Member after member today said this is not a perfect bill, it’s a flawed bill and it needs a lot of work,” Wisniewski says. “I agree after. After 15 years in the legislature, I know you should not put off until tomorrow what we can do today. The governor could have put into his CV language to make this a better bill. The notion governor is going to work with us in the future, maybe or maybe not. He didn’t improve it this time.” 

In the leadup to passage, Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-Union Twp.) praises the leadership of Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange). 

Like Wisniewski, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Princeton) says he would have wanted to get existing contracts exempted from the cap.

“The only misgiving I have is it doesn’t cover existing contracts,” Gusciora says of S-29. “We’re going to have to have layoffs or substantially cut back on services to get below the cap. …I’m going to vote for this bill, not because I think it’s a good bill, but because it starts us down the right path.”

Two percent cap bill passes in the Assembly, 73-4