AARP New Jersey and a key Assembly Democrat joined in a “virtual’’ town hall today to tout property tax reduction issues.
Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, (D-6), Voorhees, took questions from senior citizens from around the state in order to tout the Assembly Democrats’ property tax-cut plan and denounce the governor’s proposed income tax cut.
“It’s the most crippling tax, the most discriminatory tax,” Greenwald said of the property tax. He attacked Gov. Chris Christie’s income tax cut plan as the plan of someone who “is out of touch” with the crisis the state faces.
AARP New Jersey stated it also planned to hold a similar town hall on May 7 with the Assembly Minority Leader, Jon Bramnick, (R-21), Westfield, to address the same issues.
AARP New Jersey officials took the opportunity to champion two issues: full restoration of the senior property tax freeze program and of the homestead rebate program.
Ev Liebman of AARP said the senior freeze is now closed to those earning more than $70,000 (the original ceiling was $80,000).
In addition, she said, the homestead credit was nearly wiped out two years ago, was cut by about 75 percent, and they are fighting for full restoration.
“We have to make sure we have good quality care, that people can afford to turn their lights on, have air in the summer, and heat in the winter,’’ she said.
In answering callers’ questions, Greenwald presented the Assembly Dems’ plan as a fairer proposal. The across-the-board income tax cut presented by the governor disproportionately helps the wealthy, while the property tax cut benefits the middle class more immediately, he said. Both plans would be phased in over several years.
The Assembly Democrats’ proposal would give seniors a 25 percent property tax relief credit, which would translate into about $2,000 on average, Greenwald said.
One woman called in and said her income is $8,700 and she pays more than $4,000 in property taxes, and Greenwald said she is the “poster senior citizen’’ of someone who would benefit from their proposal.
He said her fear of losing her home would be immediately removed under the Democrats’ plan, and that by having a property tax credit the program would in a sense be locked in place legislatively so that it could not be rescinded at the whim of any governor.
But the governor has said the Assembly plan is a non-starter because it will be funded by taxing millionaires, to which Greenwald said today that it is only fair that the millionaires who have benefited from the lack of such a tax over the last three years should now be asked to help out the less fortunate in this tougher economy.