Legislative Leaders Announce Web Site For Special Session On Property Taxes

Public Input Sought Through Interactive Features

TRENTON – Senate President Richard J. Codey, Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr., Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance and Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce today announced the formal launch of a Web site that will promote public awareness and participation in the Legislature’s special session to address New Jersey’s runaway property taxes.

The special session link is prominently displayed at the top of the Legislature’s Web site: www.njleg.state.nj.us. For direct access, Web users may type in the following address: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/PropertyTaxSession/specialsessionpt.asp.

“For these reforms to work, we will need an unprecedented level of involvement from everyone, most importantly the public,” said Codey (D-Essex). “I urge our citizens to get involved in this debate — to come forward with their suggestions, to testify at hearings, to follow the progress in the news, so that in the end, our actions will reflect their will. This Web site will make it even easier for people to become engaged and stay engaged, knowing that their input will play a role in creating real and lasting property tax reforms.”

“Solving the problem of sky-high property taxes will be impossible without direct input from New Jersey’s property taxpayers,” said Roberts (D-Camden). “Public involvement – whether through attendance at a committee hearing or sharing an idea via e-mail – is critical to the ultimate success of this unprecedented legislative effort. All the expert testimony in the world cannot replace the individual experiences and ideas of New Jersey’s residents.”

The special session Web pages include archived video of all joint committee hearings, as well as links to the vast majority of the background information and presentation materials that legislators have at their disposal. Future hearings and meetings related to the special session process will be broadcast live – when feasible – at the site.

New Jersey residents also are encouraged to click on the “Let Us Know What You Think” link to send an e-mail to any of the four joint committees.

Leaders noted that committee chairs and members are committed to ensuring an honest process that involves constant public outreach and clear avenues for public input.

“Providing sustainable property tax reform will require the Legislature to address the complex issues of how local services are provided for and funded in New Jersey,” said Senator Lance (R-Hunterdon/Warren). This website is a means of ensuring an open process. It will allow residents to monitor the work of the special committees, gauge their progress and comment on their deliberations.”

“This Web site will be an excellent resource for taxpayers who want to stay informed about the property tax reform process,” said DeCroce (R-Morris/Passaic). “It will provide citizens with an opportunity to keep track of our progress and to provide input on this very important issue.”

The formal Web site launch comes on the heels of the inaugural meetings of the four joint committees that are focusing on reducing the property tax burdens of New Jersey residents.

The special session marks the first time in state history that the Legislature has created special bicameral committees tasked with looking at the property tax problem from all angles.

The four bicameral, bipartisan committees include:

Joint Legislative Committee on Public School Funding Reform. This panel will seek to implement reforms to the current school funding formula to mitigate disparities and inequalities between urban and suburban/rural schools, among other changes;

Joint Legislative Committee on Public Employee Benefits Reform. The committee will use the recommendations from the Pension and Benefits Review Task Force, convened last year by Governor Codey, as the basis for legislative proposals to end abuses of the public benefit system and control benefits costs statewide;

Joint Legislative Committee on Government Consolidation and Shared Services. Using the CORE Reform forwarded by Speaker Roberts as a foundation for deliberations, this joint committee will serve as a launch pad for drafting measures to promote service sharing at all levels of government and examine potential consolidation of certain state government functions;

Joint Legislative Committee on Constitutional Reform and Citizens Property Tax Constitutional Convention. The committee will address property tax issues that require constitutional remedies, as well as lay the groundwork for a potential citizens’ property tax convention that could be put to the voters on the November 2007 ballot.

The Web site will remain accessible at least though November 15, when recommendations from the joint committees are due to be presented to the full Legislature.