TRENTON – Senator Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, who had previously said publicly that she could not support the FY 2007 Budget without some property tax reform component, issued the following statement regarding an announcement today from Senate President Codey and Speaker Roberts that the Legislature would meet in the summer to look at New Jersey’s property tax crisis:
“I am very happy to see movement in the Legislature on real property tax reform, and look forward to working this summer on the joint legislative committees to develop meaningful solutions that will provide immediate property tax relief burdening all New Jerseyans.
“For too long, New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes have put pressure on current homeowners, and made it next to impossible for so many to realize the dream of home ownership.
“As we begin to explore our State’s faulty property tax structure, I think we need to pay special attention to the school funding formula that relies too heavily on property taxes and inflates the cost of education. We need to look for more efficient and effective ways of educating our kids, and for ways in which the State can provide more aid to our local schools to relieve some of the local cost.
“We need to also look at promoting, and in some cases, if necessary, mandating shared services and consolidation. Home rule is a treasured New Jersey political institution, but we have to recognize that it costs us to maintain local control when we can just as easily institute regional service agreements. Greater use of shared services and consolidation will translate to greater savings.
“The challenges of a special property tax session will be many, but I truly think that at the end, we will have a workable plan to address the number one concern for residents in New Jersey. High property taxes are choking us out of our homes, and unless we take action now, we may be unable to ever tame the beast of high property taxes for future generations.”