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Senate President Steve Sweeney Says Its Time to Confront the State’s Mounting Fiscal Problems

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Glassboro NJ,  Speaking at a policy forum last night, Senate President Steve Sweeney talked about the need to confront the state’s mounting fiscal problems and warned that New Jersey won’t be able to make critical investments in education, transportation, higher education and social services unless it enacts major structural reforms to address the looming budget crisis fueled by runaway pension and benefit costs.

Continue reading Senate President Steve Sweeney Says Its Time to Confront the State’s Mounting Fiscal Problems
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Government Wage Mandates Are Bad for New Jersey’s Economy

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By Tony Russo, CIANJ President

Ridgewood NJ, There has been a lot of discussion recently on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.  Governor Murphy would like to see $15 an hour this year but the Legislature introduced a bill which would phase in the increase over several years.  The reason given for increasing the minimum wage is the high cost of living in New Jersey.

What is missing from the current discussion are the reasons why New Jersey has such a high cost of living. The major reasons for such a high cost of living are the taxes and fees paid by New Jersey’s residents and businesses.  Property taxes, sales taxes, fuel taxes, income taxes, the corporate business tax — New Jersey is a heavily taxed state.   Also absent from the discussion is why $15 an hour would somehow make New Jersey affordable.

Government needs to appreciate that most private sector jobs in New Jersey are with small businesses.  These business owners take on risks daily as competition is fierce. Most work hard to make ends meet but unfortunately some do not survive.

Employees are a business’ number one resource and keeping good talent is a top priority.  An hourly wage is just one part of how a business compensates employees.  Many offer fringe benefits including paid time off, healthcare insurance, 401(k) contributions, short- and long-term disability, bonuses and life insurance.  When the Legislature focuses on only the hourly rate and not the total compensation paid, it is not reflective of the total amount spent by employers.

More importantly, Trenton lawmakers should not look toward the private sector to make New Jersey affordable but rather look inward to reduce the size of government and make New Jersey a business-friendly State.  New investment will create new jobs, more competition and innovation which in turn will improve the quality of life of residents as well as increasing the coffers of the state government. This would reduce the current pressure on New Jersey’s existing businesses.

A government wage mandate on the private sector is the wrong approach and will only lead to higher prices and job losses, ultimately hurting the very people they are trying to help.  Finally, New Jersey voters already weighed in on this matter in 2013 when they approved an amendment to the state constitution tying any increases to the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index or CPI.By Tony Russo, CIANJ President

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Assemblywomen Schepisi says ,”NJ may be only State that needs to build a wall to keep residents in”

photo Building the Berlin Wall in 1961

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Westwood NJ, Assemblywomen Holly Schepisi‏  said on twitter , “Governor Murphy’s top NJ priorities for 2019 are increasing minimum wage and legalizing pot. What about crushing property taxes? What about huge outflux of our residents to cheaper states? What about NJ’s $195.5 BILLION financial hole? What about fairness for the middle class?”

Garden State Initiative chimed in , “an @AsburyParkPress analysis by @scervenka finds the avg NJ property tax bill has doubled in 20 yrs far exceeding income growth. Will @GovMurphy address this in his State of the State? https://www.app.com/story/news/investigations/data/analysis/2019/01/15/nj-property-taxes-double/2474323002/ … “

Holly Schepisi concluded the discussion ,”Not one mention of any initiative to combat high property taxes, unaffordability or exodus from the State. We may be only State that needs to build a wall to keep residents in. @GovMurphy @NJAssemblyGOPhttps://twitter.com/gsi_newjersey/status/1085150245934325760 …  “

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NJ Fiscal Crisis Deepens: Department of the Treasury Reports Tax Collection Shortfall of 10.1 %

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, The Department of the Treasury reported that December revenue collections for the major taxes totaled $2.973 billion, down $335 million, or 10.1 percent below last December.  However, year-to-date, total collections of $12.901 billion are up $269 million for FY 2019, 2.1 percent above the same period last year.

The dip in overall December collections is due primarily to a drop in Gross Income Tax (GIT) receipts, which are constitutionally dedicated to the Property Tax Relief Fund.  GIT receipts were down 35.2 percent from last December with $1.182 billion collected while year-to-date collections were down 6.5 percent with $5.667 billion collected.  This dip is attributed to federal tax law changes that created a shift in tax planning behavior, a pattern that is being reported in a number of states.

Last December’s GIT collections, which rose by 30.5 percent, were enhanced by certain one-time hedge fund payments made because of a federal tax deadline, as well as accelerated tax payments made in December 2017 in order to avoid the new federal cap on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, which took effect in January 2018.  Additionally, the capped federal SALT deduction may have prompted a change in tax planning behavior this year because it eliminated the incentive to prepay the estimated fourth quarter payment in December, which is due January 15.  While this last factor may have reduced December GIT receipts, it also may increase January receipts.

The Sales and Use Tax, the largest General Fund revenue source, reported $788.1 million in December, up 5.4 percent.  Year-to-date, sales tax collections of $3.982 billion are up 1.2 percent from the same period last year.  The second step of the sales tax rate reduction that began on January 1, 2018 will continue to impact collections for one more month, through the January revenue report.  If not for the rate reduction, underlying growth in the sales tax through December would be 5.0 percent.

The Corporation Business Tax (CBT), the second largest General Fund revenue, brought in $596.1 million, 40.9 percent above last December.  Year-to-date, the CBT has collected $1.536 billion, or 60.8 percent above last year.  The CBT for banks and financial institutions is up 247.8 percent so far in FY 2019 spurred in part by strong bank profits.  In FY 2019, corporate tax revenues are expected to grow significantly due to substantial state and federal tax policy changes that influence the tax base and the timing of certain payments.

Casino Revenues of $119.0 million are running 20.3 percent ahead of last year through the end of December.  Sports betting has contributed $4.6 million to the Casino Revenue Fund and another $3.1 million to the General Fund through November.

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Reader says, The first rule of government is: “Embrace the status quo.”

The first rule of government is: “Embrace the status quo.”

Why? Well, the answer is simple: a lifetime appointment to a cushy job, with the added bonus of a pension.

Unlike the private sector, these people can’t be fired (unless they REALLY screw the proverbial pooch).

Why on earth would they make sweeping changes to satisfy the very people (the taxpayers) who make it possible for them to hold those cushy positions in the first place?

The majority of these government workers have no interest in the private sector because they would be held truly accountable. Instead, they don’t upset the apple cart and they milk that cow as for long as possible…

And, to the Federal employees who aren’t earning paychecks right now: quit moaning you greedy, self-serving bastards! Consider it a extended *paid* vacation courtesy of the taxpayers! Where can I get that deal?!?

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NJGOP Chairman Calls On Murphy To End Frivolous Lawsuits Against Trump Admin and Focus on New Jersey

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ,  Yesterday after the Trump administration moved to block state efforts to work around a new limit on state and local tax deductions, Governor Murphy has said he is weighing legal actions.. New Jersey’s top Republican NJGOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt released the following statement:

Continue reading NJGOP Chairman Calls On Murphy To End Frivolous Lawsuits Against Trump Admin and Focus on New Jersey

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New Jersey Revenue Certification Reform is Long Overdue

July 24,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, This afternoon the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee held a hearing on SCR132, a constitutional amendment to overhaul New Jersey’s revenue certification process. SCR132 would take away the governor’s constitutional authority to certify revenues and create a joint legislative and executive branch panel to provide consensus revenue certification. New Jersey would become the 29th state in the nation to adopt this budget forecasting framework.

NEW JEREY POLICY PERSPECTIVE PRESIDENT GORDON MacINNES:

“This change to the budgeting process is long overdue and will bring more clarity, collaboration, and credibility to the state’s revenue projections. Consensus forecasting follows best practices from across the country and ensures economic factors – not political ones – set the parameters of the budget debate.

For the state to fully realize the benefits of this reform, the legislature should also pursue multi-year budgeting practices to better prepare New Jersey for the future. These changes could lead to a healthier, more democratic budget debate, boost public trust, and produce better results for a state budget that has suffered from years of politically convenient decisions.

However, while consensus revenue forecasting is an important change to the constitution, it should not be made with the same swift action that defines the last-minute budget practices the state seeks to reform.”

Full testimony by NJPP President Gordon MacInnes: https://www.njpp.org/budget/njpp-testimony-revenue-certification-reform-is-long-overdue

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Trenton Continues to Drive Residents From the State

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July 7,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, around two years ago, New Jersey’s richest resident , hedge fund billionaire David Tepper decided to move himself and his business to Miami Beach. Tepper, who personally earned more than $6 billion from 2012-2015, was tired of paying New Jersey’s top income-tax rate of 8.97% for the 20 years he lived there, in addition to the country’s highest property taxes, the estate tax and inheritance tax. By moving to Florida, a state with ZERO income tax, Tepper stood to save hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Tepper’s departure left an enormous hole in the New Jersey budget .

Anyone with an ounce of common sense would have at least acknowledged the possibility that a guy like Tepper would consider moving to save a few hundred million dollars , anyone that is except ,”stuck on stupid ” Trenton .

Tepper is not the only one to leave , according to the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the State of New Jersey lost a whopping 2 million residents between 2005 and 2014, earning a combined $18 billion in net adjusted gross income, i.e. income that would have been taxed by the state.

With those out flow numbers Its not just the masters of the universe that are tired of paying sky-high taxes. It’s also the regular wage earner and small business owners. A whopping 60% of these folks went to Florida, with a state income tax of zero.

So the message from New Jersey’s residents (well, now former residents) is loud and clear: taxes are too high!

Now, what do you think New Jersey is doing to solve this problem?

New Jersey residents elected a governor that promised to raise their taxes, so instead of making the state friendlier to productive people and businesses , New Jersey has embarked on a program of driving out tax payers and replacing them with tax takers .

New Jersey now taxes residents making more than $5 million will now pay 10.75%, up from 8.97%.The corporate rate on businesses with more than $1 million in net income was also increased from 9% to 11.5% (Proportionally, that’s a potentially 27% increase in the amount of tax a business might pay).

This will simply exacerbate the problem even more ,chasing more businesses and people out of the state .

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AFP-NJ: It Exists Therefore It’s Taxed

July 2, 2018
by AFP-NJ: It Exists Therefore It’s Taxed

Trenton NJ,  Americans for Prosperity-New Jersey (AFP-NJ) responded to the New Jersey state budget, which the legislature passed and the governor signed on Sunday. The $37.4 billion state budget increased income taxes as well as corporate taxes. AFP-NJ opposed the measure.

AFP-NJ State Director Erica Jedynak issued the following statement:

“The way New Jersey lawmakers tax everything you’d think they’re purposefully trying to drive everyone out so they can keep the state to themselves. According to Sen. Sweeney and Gov. Murphy, the only thing better than a tax on one thing is a tax on two. But the higher income and corporate taxes will only exacerbate the Garden State’s already troubling outmigration problem and increase the tax burden on an ever-shrinking population. How long before New Jersey lawmakers start taxing folks in New York or Pennsylvania?

“That some lawmakers refuse to acknowledge that New Jersey has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, is outrageous. Our elected officials need to recognize that spending on wasteful programs such as corporate welfare is a core driver of increased taxes, which in turn make it harder to live, work, and raise a family in the Garden State.”

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Assemblywomen Holly Schepisi : “Any tax and spending increases without real reforms to our pension system is irresponsible and reckless”

July 1,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ,in a last minute deal the state government shut down has been avoided . Assemblywomen Holly Schepisi , “Update for New Jersey residents. It appears a State shutdown will be averted. On the upside you will be able to go to the beach, the racetrack or a casino, and renew your license. On the downside you will be paying even more for gas, internet purchases, hospital visits, plastic and paper bags, Airbnb, Uber and Lyft, health care, and utility bills. I keep hearing a mantra of New Jersey needs sustainable revenue. However New Jersey has significant revenue. New Jersey ranks in the top 5 highest taxed states in the country. New Jersey has among the highest pension debt. Any tax and spending increases without real reforms to our pension system is irresponsible and reckless. Good luck New Jersey residents. You voted for this”