Senate And Assembly To Consider Sales Tax Dedication, Kick Off Property Tax Reform

TRENTON – On Thursday, the Senate and Assembly State Government Committees will hold a joint hearing at 10:00 AM in Committee Room 13 to consider a constitutional amendment which would dedicate half of this year’s penny increase in the State sales tax to property tax reform.

Full votes on the proposal are scheduled in both Houses of the Legislature on Friday, after Governor Corzine’s morning address to open a special session focusing on New Jersey’s property tax burden.

“The silver lining in the protracted budget debate is that we have produced a guaranteed revenue source to provide substantial property tax relief,” said Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex. “This constitutional dedication is a prelude of things to come. In the coming weeks and months there will be many lengthy, and hopefully productive, discussions on the best way to utilize this money to provide real relief.”

“We asked New Jerseyans to accept a sales tax increase and now will ask them to ensure that half of it will be constitutionally and permanently committed to property tax reform,” said Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, D-Camden and Gloucester.

The amendment, sponsored in the Senate as SCR-1 by Senators Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, and Wayne R. Bryant, D-Camden and Gloucester, and in the Assembly as ACR-1 by Speaker Roberts, Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-Mercer, and Assemblyman Neil M. Cohen, D-Union, would, if approved by both houses of the Legislature and adopted by the voting public as a ballot question this November, make $5 billion available for property tax reform over the first ten year period. The dedicated funds would be collected in a special account, known as the Property Tax Reform Account, within the already-established Property Tax Relief Fund. The funds would be appropriated each year by the Legislature exclusively for programs designed to stabilize and lower New Jersey’s tax burden.

The sales tax dedication will be one of the first initiatives in an historic effort to reign in New Jersey’s runaway property tax system, and bring about systemwide reform. On Friday, Governor Corzine is scheduled to address the joint Legislature at 11:00 AM in the Assembly Chambers to officially kick off a special session to address property taxes, with the Assembly scheduled to reconvene at noon, and the Senate at 1:00 PM to consider the attached list of bills, including legislation setting up the organizational structure of the special session.

“For too long the discussion about reducing the property tax levy has amounted to nothing more than empty rhetoric,” said Senate President Codey. “In order to end that practice, there must be an understanding that we did not arrive at this problem overnight and that it must be tackled cooperatively, absent any finger-pointing or partisan road blocks. For these reforms to work, we will need an unprecedented level of involvement from everyone – both Houses, both parties, local officials, academics, experts, and most importantly, the public. It’s time for all of us to work together to correct the mistakes of the past.”