Author: Rory B. Bellows
New Jersey Republican leaders Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. and Assemblyman Alex DeCroce have presented their alternative to Governor Corzine’s budget.
The Republican proposal differs greatly from the Governor’s. Republicans emphasize fiscal restraint while keeping the promises made to New Jersey residents over the last two budget cycles. The Republican budget restores property tax relief to the previous year’s level while moving away from a property tax rebate to an income tax or property tax credit. The reason for this proposal is that a property tax credit allows residents to keep their money in the first place, eliminates administrative costs associated with printing and mailing the rebate checks, and prevents government from having to borrow money, as they have done in the past, to fund the rebate checks.
The Republicans’ budget also makes bold steps to restore aid to rural municipalities and suburban towns. The Republican caucus sees cuts to municipal towns as a pass through tax increase. The Republican alternative is centered around, first, stabilizing the state’s finances so rollbacks of Democrats’ oppressive tax increases is possible.
The Republicans’ budget proposal also includes several constitutional handcuffs on the legislature. Republicans would like a constitutional amendment that walls off $500 million per year for the transportation trust fund. This would prevent the need for massive gas tax increases at a time when Americans are paying record prices at the pump.
Other constitutional safeguards include the creating intiative and referendum to give the residents of New Jersey more control over spending and requiring a 2/3 vote of the legislature to raise taxes.