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Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Reports little awareness of NJ Novemeber 3rd Vote


Who? What? Huh?? New Jerseyans Unaware of Next Week’s Election, Eagleton Says

Forty-four years after the first press release from the Eagleton Institute of Politics’ inaugural poll reported little awareness of the then upcoming 1971 state legislative elections, New Jerseyans today remain uninformed about the Legislature, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Three-quarters of Garden State residents are completely unaware that any elections will be held next week, just slightly better than the 85 percent who were ignorant in 1971, in what was then called the New Jersey Poll. Politicker Staff, PolitickerNJ Read more

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Cherry Hill Shoppers on 2015 Elections: ‘The Last One, They Locked Him Up’



A new Rutgers poll suggests that New Jersey residents are as uninformed and uninterested as ever when it comes to state-level politics. PolitickerNJ decided to visit the Cherry Hill Mall and see whether people at one of South Jersey’s biggest commercial centers would buck the trend. JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

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How Much Does Your State Collect in Corporate Income Taxes Per Capita?

State-Local Corp

New Jersey Placed 8th Highest in the Country 

October 22, 2015
By Jared Walczak

While corporate income taxes are often mistaken for the totality of business tax burdens, in reality they are just one of many taxes paid by businesses, and often a relatively small percentage of overall corporate tax burdens. Nationwide, corporate income taxes only account for 3.5 percent of state and local tax revenue. That figure will continue to decline as more businesses organize as pass-throughs (S corps, partnerships, sole proprietorships, etc.), which are liable under the individual income tax code, and as more C corporations receive incentives and abatements which erode the corporate income tax base.

Today’s map shows how much each state collects in corporate income taxes per capita. Unsurprisingly, states like New York ($539 per capita) collect a great deal, due to a heavy concentration of corporate payers. Alaska has the highest collections per capita ($912), the result of a large presence from extractive industries combined with relatively low population. A similar dynamic is at play in fourth-ranked North Dakota, while third-ranked New Hampshire leans more heavily on corporate taxes (and property taxes) due to the lack of an individual income tax (except on interest and dividends) or a sales tax.

At the other end of the spectrum, Nevada, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming do not levy corporate income taxes, though four of these states (Nevada, Ohio, Texas, and Washington) instead impose economically distortive gross receipts taxes, and some states that forego a traditional corporate income tax still show a small amount of corporate income tax due to taxes on the corporate net income of special kinds of corporations (e.g., financial institutions). As such, only Nevada, Texas, and Wyoming show no revenue whatsoever from corporate income taxes, though all three of these states levy other business taxes, including, inter alia, Nevada’s Commerce Tax (a gross receipts tax) and Modified Business Tax (a payroll tax) and Texas’s Margin Tax (a gross receipts tax).

There are several reasons why the corporate income tax share is so low on average:

The number of businesses organized as traditional C corporations has decreased over time. Between 1980 and 2010, the number of pass-through businesses nearly tripled, while the number of C corps actually declined.
States hand out generous corporate tax incentive packages to entice businesses to move into (or remain in) their states. Jobs credits, investment credits, and other targeted incentives lower tax liability for certain businesses and industries, but they are distortionary and non-neutral, picking winners and losers while carving away at the tax base.
States further reduce corporate tax bills by adjusting income apportionment formulas, reducing the in-state taxable income of corporations within their borders. Our Location Matters study helps explain the effect of apportionment in each state.

Beyond their limited capacity to raise revenue in most states, corporate income taxes are also highly volatile, as many corporations post losses during economic downturns and thus have no liability under the corporate income tax.

How much does your state collect in corporate income taxes per capita?

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N.J. legislators spar on mental health reform


OCTOBER 23, 2015, 7:23 PM    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2015, 11:07 PM

Now that the Senate has voted to override Christie’s veto of that Madden bill on mental health records, sending it to the Assembly for consideration, the details of both proposals are at the center of a dispute between Democrats and Republicans over what is sound policy and what is political theatrics. The arguments show how powerful Christie’s pen stroke can be in Trenton, turning a bipartisan agreement into a pitched debate over mental illness and guns — plus all the other pressing matters facing the state.

Republicans in the Assembly now face the same choice as their colleagues in the Senate: Either switch their votes or defy Christie and hand him the first complete override of his tenure. Republican leader Jon Bramnick, a prime sponsor of the Assembly version of Madden’s bill, said his party expects Democrats to work toward solving New Jersey’s most vexing challenges first.

“If you’re willing to post and get passed in both houses serious tax reform and serious policy changes, I’m happy to talk about overriding the governor,” Bramnick said. “But my sense is that if you just want to override the governor for political purposes, I’m not with you.”

Sharing information

The bill at the heart of the dispute was sponsored by Bramnick, of Union County, and Madden, D-Gloucester, and was requested by the Administrative Office of the Courts. It would provide for local law enforcement to be notified when someone with a history of mental illness — like being committed to an institution or determined by the state to be a danger — applies to have a mental health record expunged for the purpose of obtaining a firearm.

While nothing stops judges from contacting law enforcement to get more details about an applicant that may weigh on their decision, the bill would automatically notify authorities to give them an opportunity to share information with the courts such as pending charges or “aberrant” behavior of the individuals.

The bill unanimously passed the Legislature in June. But Christie, who is running for the Republican nomination for president, conditionally vetoed the legislation in August because, he said, it didn’t comprehensively address mental health reform. Instead, he urged the Legislature to act on his recommendations found in the bill sponsored by Thompson, R-Middlesex.

Hybrid proposal

Christie’s reforms included a new standard for involuntary commitment for someone with mental illness; new training programs for first responders to identify and deal with people “in crisis”; and a requirement that someone who has been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment demonstrate “adequate medical evidence of suitability” in order to get a firearms purchaser card. None of his recommendations dealt with expunging mental health records.

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N.J. attorneys accused of concealing political donations



Eight partners of a politically active New Jersey law firm are accused of illegally funneling about $8,000 in political contributions to state and local candidates and committees through the firm’s associate attorneys. Samantha Marcus, Read more

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NJ lawmakers run from $194 billion liability for employee benefits

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By Mark Lagerkvist  /   October 19, 2015

With an election for New Jersey Assembly two weeks away, the numbers don’t look good for the fiscal reform urgently needed in Trenton.

The staggering $194 billion liability for public employee pension and health benefits is seldom debated in campaigns for the 80 Assembly seats up for grabs on Nov. 3.

The status quo is a 47-32 advantage for Democrats over Republicans with one seat vacant – a balance not likely to change much. The incumbents have outspent challengers $10 million to $2.2 million, according to a report by a New Jersey election commission.

Even more lopsided, incumbents enjoyed a 10-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage – $5.2 million to $496,000 – over their opponents, as of Oct. 2.

That big edge in campaign finances helps them run for re-election while running away from their failure to solve New Jersey’s fiscal dilemma. The Assembly has been in recess since June – a spell approaching four months.

“The situation is not only getting worse, but is fast approaching a point at which it will be beyond remedy,” warned Gov. Chris Christie’s bipartisan, blue-ribbon Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission in a report released in February.

Keeping benefits at their current level would require a 29 percent hike in state income taxes or increasing the sales tax to 10 percent, the study estimated.

“The already narrow window for a reasonable solution is closing fast. Only decisive action now can preserve a solid foundation of public employee benefits before the ever-growing hole the state has dug itself into becomes too deep for the state to dig itself out of without crushing tax increases and deep cuts to employee benefits and public services,” the commission stated.

That was eight months ago. Since then, Christie and lawmakers have failed to realign New Jersey’s costly benefits to a level comparable to what private-sector employers offer their workers.

Now the unfunded liabilities have reached a staggering $194.5 billion, according to aNew Jersey Watchdog analysis of State Treasury records. Here’s a breakdown of that debt:

New Jersey’s public pensions are underfunded by $113.1 billion. The state bears $80.5 billion of that burden. Local governments are responsible for the remaining $32.6 billion.
State and local governments are also on the hook for $81.4 billion in unfunded health benefits for retired and active workers. The state owes $65 billion; the local share is $16.4 billion.
The total shortfall is nearly six times higher than New Jersey’s total annual budget, currently $33.8 billion. To wipe the liability clean, each household in the state would need to write a check for more than $60,000 per household.

At the present pace, the shortfall for public employee pensions and health benefits will exceed $210 billion next year.

“That, in brief, is New Jersey’s future without meaningful public employee benefits reform – a future that is bleak, burdensome and unacceptable to everyone,” the commission concluded.

None of the New Jersey Senate’s 40 seats are on the Nov. 3 ballot. The next statewide election will be in 2017, when Christie’s second and final term expires.

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NJ legislative races drawing big money, tepid voter interest


OCTOBER 18, 2015, 11:48 PM    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2015, 9:03 AM

The biggest challenge candidates for the New Jersey Legislature may have is not persuading people to vote for them, but convincing people that there’s an election this November.

And it’s an election that may prove historic — a possible record high for money spent by the campaigns and super PACs, and a possible record low for voter turnout.

For the first time since 1999, all 80 seats in the Assembly top the ballot. But most eyes are on the 2016 presidential race, and off-year elections are “notoriously” known for little voter interest and lackluster crowds at the polls, said Ashley Koning, assistant director of Rutgers University’s Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.

Yet a fierce battle costing millions of dollars is being waged by candidates, committees and super PACs in a few legislative districts, including Bergen County’s District 38, where one of the candidates still on the ballot resigned in disgrace over a raunchy book he self-published 12 years ago.

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Christie’s Gun Violence Commission Points Finger at Mental Health

Tuscon shooting rampage suspect Jared Lee Loughner ruled not mentally competent to stand trial

N.J. violence commission report puts spotlight on mental illness, gun violence

A long-awaited report from a commission formed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut recommends reforms to the state’s mental health programs to help curb violence. S.P. Sullivan, Read more

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Fighting New Jersey’s property tax crisis


Like many newlyweds, Matthew and Nazia Stevens searched for the best home to start their life together. They visited house after house in pursuit of a serene and secure setting for the children to come. The home would be close to work, close to family — all perfect for a lifetime of happiness. Paul D’Ambrosio, Asbury Park PressRead more