TRENTON—Saying, “Lower tax rates will relieve over-burdened middle class families,” Gov. Chris Christie proposed a ten-percent across the board personal income tax cut that will be phased in over three years during his budget speech today.
Most workers are unlikely to notice the tax cut in their paycheck. According to the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services, a family earning $50,000 a year would save $80.50 once Christie’s tax cut is fully phased in. A family earning $100,000 would save $275.
The governor said that New Jersey needed to make its tax rates more competitive, citing a Boston College study. He bragged about twice vetoing Democrat-led efforts to re-introduce the so-called “millionaire’s tax” that gave the state the highest marginal tax rate in the nation. Christie also pledged, “I will veto any tax increase again.”
Christie did propose an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps the working poor and is popular with Democrats. “With my proposed increase, New Jersey will have one of the most generous state tax programs for the working poor in the nation.”
The governor said that his budget would maintain property tax rebate credits at their current rates.
Christie’s $32.1 billion budget proposal includes a record $8.8 billion in state school aid, an increase of $200 million over the current budget. He urged the Legislature to take action on the Opportunity Scholarship Act, which would give businesses tax credits in exchange for funding scholarships to allow students from low-income families in poorly-performing districts to attend private schools. Christie also proposed increasing aid for public colleges and universities by six percent and creating a $1 million Governor’s Urban Scholarship Program for students in inner cities.
The governor proposed a $1.1 billion payment to the state’s pension program, saying it would be the largest single state contribution ever. It represents a $587 million increase from last year.
Christie’s budget proposal also includes $89 million for the Transportation Capital Plan, a $10 million increase for the Department of Human Services, and $5.6 million more for the division of mental health and addiction services.
Saying that “no life is disposable,” Christie renewed his call to have non-violent drug offenders receive treatment rather than prison sentences. Next week, the governor said that he would announce specifics of a drug treatment program for non-violent offenders and Christie proposed spending $2.5 million to establish mandatory drug courts in all 21 counties.
“We have it within our power to make New Jersey, once again, the economic engine of our region. To be a national leader in fiscal discipline. To be the trendsetter for an America that wants to honestly confront our challenges,” Christie concluded. “That is my fight as your governor. Let’s make it our fight—together.”