Guest blogger, Colin
This entry, written by Colin, was also published in the Princeton Packet of Tuesday, August 10. The issues it raises on the tax situation in NJ are vital to understanding what is going on in the state
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora’s attempt to explain “the rest of the story” is only half right — the spending half. He conveniently forgot to detail the taxing half. This is the half that includes the nation’s largest tax increase by any state, according to Americans for Tax Reform.
Let’s review some of the taxes and fees our assemblyman voted for and claims offers “the best hope” for the people of New Jersey: A new mandatory state sales tax on motel and hotel stays, a 37% increase in the cigarette tax, a new 8% tax on progressive slot machine revenue, a new 6% tax on billboard advertising, a 200% increase in boat registration fees, and a new $2.00 per day tax on rental cars. There are more, like increased taxes on the sale of homes, a doubling in the cost to take various civil service exams, and an increased fee to file for divorce.
Mr. Gusciora also approved an extra $5.00 surcharge on all outpatient hospital visits, a $1.50 tax on all new tire purchases (even spare tires), and he doubled the fee to become a real estate agent. Clearly these taxes are not limited to the millionaires in the state, but affect virtually every one of the millions of families in New Jersey. Many people I talk to think cigarette taxes should be even higher and don’t mind paying more for tires or elective cosmetic surgery. Others, including me, don’t mind if people are required to pay an extra fifty bucks to file for divorce in this state. However, to portray the tax hikes as only affecting the state’s wealthiest individuals is disingenuous at best. At worst it’s misleading and dishonest.
As for the spending, I agree with the funding of a stem cell research program. And as the son of two teachers, I also fully support money spent wisely on education, such as preschool programs and funding for higher education. But I wonder if Mr. Gusciora can explain the $100 million spending on Christmas Tree Items referred to by the Times, Star Ledger, and Philadelphia Inquirer.
I disagree with all of the members of the state legislature that passed the current budget, and I strongly disagree with the Assemblyman that this budget offers “the best hope”. The “best hope” for New Jerseyans is not higher, hidden taxes. The “best hope” is not borrowing billions of dollars to balance the state budget. In fact, according to recent newspaper accounts, had the court not banned borrowing for day-to-day expenses, the administration likely would have doubled the amount borrowed next year for operating expenses. Where does this end?
No, Mr. Assemblyman. The “best hope” is in sound fiscal policies that balances the needs of our residents today without unfairly burdening the future taxpayers of this state, like my 3-year old son CJ. And although my neighbors in Princeton and families throughout the state all appreciate a larger property tax rebate check, the “best hope” is real property tax reform. The “best hope” for my friends and family in Mercer County and throughout the state is to ban the current “pay-to-play” system of awarding public contracts and replace the loophole-ridden statute he passed earlier this year.
Now with the rest of the facts out in the open, radio personality Paul Harvey can truly be quoted: “Now you know the rest of the story!”