Budget Committee Update: Schaer quizzes biz industy rep on ‘no new taxes’ assessment

TRENTON – Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Gary Schaer (D-36) this morning jousted with a representative of the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey on his characterization of Gov. Chris Christie’s $34.4 billion budget.

In testimony to Schaer’s committee, Tony Russo, executive vice president of government affairs and communications, lauded the budget for containing “no new taxes.”

Schaer objected, alluding to $205 million in new business-related taxes contained in the Governor’s budget.

“We see it as closing loopholes,” said Russo, echoing Christie’s budget address explanation, when the Governor said, “This budget also helps create a level playing field for our middle-class taxpayers, proposing the closing of corporate loopholes to promote more tax fairness in the state.”

Schaer didn’t accept the explanation.

“That’s a fascinating way to phrase it,” said the budget chairman, who bemoaned enduring structural issues in the budget and increased borrowing.

“The estate tax is one tax we hope would be phased out,” Russo admitted. But “we look at what message does this send to the business community. …It sends the right message.”

Schaer said, “Some of your organization’s support seems difficult for me to understand.”

Budget Committee Update: Schaer quizzes biz industy rep on ‘no new taxes’ assessment