Category: Clips

N.J. Republican lawmakers, business leaders assail Democratic tax plan

Bergen Record -

Business representatives and Republican legislators said today a Democratic proposal to raise taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents will damage the state’s economy.

At a news conference on the State House steps organized by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, lawmakers said the proposal would drive wealthy residents out of the state and reduce job creation. They admitted, though, that the tax hike is unlikely to become law. Even if it passes the Democratically-controlled Legislature, it can be vetoed by Governor Christie.

Nevertheless, Republicans assailed the Democrats’ proposal, arguing it will hurt the state’s “job creators.”

Jon Bramnick

“How wrong can you be?” Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, of Union County, said. “What is right about raising taxes in the highest tax state in the country?”

Democrats are proposing the tax hikes as an alternative to Christie’s plan to cut payments into the state pension system.

“We’re just asking everyone to do their fair share,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said at a news conference last week. “We feel this is a fair compromise.”

Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr. said the proposal “makes this a much more difficult place to live, to work, to raise a family, to get an education.”

But the Republicans agreed that the tax idea will be vetoed by the governor if it gets to his desk.

“I don’t think you have to worry about that,” Bramnick said. “I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”

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Bramnick: ‘No new taxes in this state. We can’t afford them.’

Source: Bergen Record -

Budget committees in both the Assembly and Senate are scheduled Tuesday to review a state budget bill that will rely on increased revenue by raising taxes on high earners.

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republicans held a news conference Monday to oppose the Democrats’ budget plan, saying increasing taxes would cripple the state’s economy.

“No new taxes in this state,” said Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union. “We can’t afford them.”

Democratic leaders of both houses have been working together to draft their own budget bill after talks with Governor Christie, a Republican, failed to yield a deal.

“We’re very, very close,” Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, said Monday afternoon. “We’re working very closely with the Assembly.”

Sarlo’s committee will meet at noon on Tuesday, and the Assembly Budget Committee will come together at 1 p.m. If both panels clear a budget Tuesday afternoon, the bill could go before both full houses during voting sessions scheduled for Thursday.

Any bill to increase revenue through a tax hike will also require a separate vote in both houses of the Legislature, which are controlled by Democrats.

The key to the Democrats’ plan is making a $2.25 billion state payment into the public employee pension system, something Christie proposed reducing to $681 million to offset a late reduction in revenue projections the state Department of Treasury announced last month.

To help pay for the bigger pension payment, the Democrats are proposing to increase the state’s 8.97 percent top-end income tax rate, which is currently levied on income $500,000 and over, to 10.75 percent for those with income $1 million an over.

Other details, including an increase of corporate business tax rate, are still being worked out, Sarlo said.

Christie, who was participating in a charity softball game at Yankee Stadium on Monday, has said he opposes hiking income taxes to balance the budget. The governor has the authority to veto the budget outright, or delete specific spending lines out of the budget bill using the line-item veto.

Assembly Republicans held a news conference Monday to oppose the Democrats’ budget plan, saying increasing taxes would cripple the state’s economy.

“No new taxes in this state,” said Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union. “We can’t afford them.”

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce is also planning to hold a news conference on the steps of the State House at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday to discuss the impacts of higher income tax rates.

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Assembly GOP blasts Dems’ budget plan [audio]

Source: NJ 101.5 [audio] -

With Democrats in the state Assembly and Senate recently unveiling alternative budget proposals, both of which hike taxes on New Jersey’s wealthiest residents, Assembly Republicans held a State House press conference Monday to blast those plans.

Jon Bramnick

 

“No more taxes, no new taxes,” said Assembly GOP leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield). “They’re raising the price of living in New Jersey, which is counterintuitive to what rational, common-sense people would do.”

 

The Democrats’ plans differ a bit, but leaders in both houses are working in unison to produce a solid budget — one that includes tax increases.

“No more taxes, no new taxes,” said Assembly GOP leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield). “They’re raising the price of living in New Jersey, which is counterintuitive to what rational, common-sense people would do.”

Assembly Republicans are calling for a state constitutional amendment to give lawmakers more of a say in how schools are funded. Bramnick said that could help the state balance future budgets. The amendment would have to be approved by voters.

The state’s highest income tax rate is 8.97 percent. Under the Senate Democrats’ plan, the tax on those making $1 million or more per year would rise to 10.75 percent and generate $565 million in new revenue. The new rate for those making between $500,000 and $1 million would be 10.25 percent and generate $155 million. Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) said he is willing to allow the tax hikes to sunset if more jobs are created and the state’s economy rebounds. He said is not worried that the wealthy will flee the state, because it’s the middle class that truly is struggling.

“How can you be the highest-taxed state in the region and then raise taxes?” Bramnick asked. “I don’t get it. It’s a bad plan.”

A spokesman for the Assembly Democrats issued a scathing response shortly after the Assembly Republicans wrapped up their press event.

On Wednesday, a New Jersey court will hear arguments in a lawsuit seeking to stop Christie from slashing the current fiscal year’s pension payment. The state was supposed to contribute $1.6 billion, but Christie now plans to pay in $696 million. If the court rules against the governor, it would knock this year’s budget out of balance and have the ripple effect of impacting the budget that begins July 1.

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Assembly GOP blasts Dems’ budget plan

NJ 101.5 -

With Democrats in the state Assembly and Senate recently unveiling alternative budget proposals, both of which hike taxes on New Jersey’s wealthiest residents, Assembly Republicans held a State House press conference Monday to blast those plans.

The Democrats’ plans differ a bit, but leaders in both houses are working in unison to produce a solid budget — one that includes tax increases.

Jon Bramnick

“No more taxes, no new taxes,” said Assembly GOP leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield). “They’re raising the price of living in New Jersey, which is counterintuitive to what rational, common-sense people would do.”

Assembly Republicans are calling for a state constitutional amendment to give lawmakers more of a say in how schools are funded. Bramnick said that could help the state balance future budgets. The amendment would have to be approved by voters.

The state’s highest income tax rate is 8.97 percent. Under the Senate Democrats’ plan, the tax on those making $1 million or more per year would rise to 10.75 percent and generate $565 million in new revenue. The new rate for those making between $500,000 and $1 million would be 10.25 percent and generate $155 million.

“How can you be the highest-taxed state in the region and then raise taxes?” Bramnick asked. “I don’t get it. It’s a bad plan.”

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O’Scanlon: Pension presents ‘best option of a bunch of bad ones’

Source: Asbury  Park Press -

Lawmakers and Gov. Chris Christie are on a budget collision course yet again this year – only this time, a state judge could sideswipe them both.

Declan O'Scanlon

“It’s the best option of a batch of bad ones, but it is the least painful and the least destructive of our economy. But no one is saying we will never make up that commitment. We know we have the obligation. And there’s no public worker whose pension check is going to be affected by this move at this time.” – Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon

Public workers’ unions are asking Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson at a hearing Wednesday to halt Christie’s plan to reduce payments into the pension funds by $2.45 billion over the next 53 weeks, an idea the governor announced after wealthy homeowners’ income tax payments fell far short of forecast in April.

In court papers filed Monday, the unions said a 2010 law signed by Christie that requires pension payments to be ramped up over seven years requires those payments to take top priority and that a governor doesn’t have discretion over whether to pay even if there’s an emergency.

“In this case the governor has taken a hostile and ideological stance against the funding of the pension system,” says the letter brief. “… In essence, the governor ‘rigged’ the appropriation process so that the only line item which would feel the pain or be wrongfully underfunded was pensions.”

“The governor goes to great pains to declare ‘emergency,’ ‘necessity’ and ‘disaster’ as if he may wield a magic sword to dispense with the law,” says the letter brief. “These are all smoke screens and a purposeful evasion of the simple issue. Was the statute violated? And, if so, what shall be the remedy?”

Lawmakers from both parties appear to generally think Christie’s cut in this year’s budget of roughly $887 million is likely to be upheld but aren’t as sure about the fate of the 2015 cut of nearly $1.6 billion. Democratic lawmakers want to raise taxes to provide the revenue to avoid next year’s reduction.

“We don’t have a choice. We have five days to go in this fiscal year. There’s no other legitimate place to cut,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union.

“It’s unlikely for the courts in my judgment to impose that type of order on a situation that is almost impossible to fix within two or three days,” Bramnick said. “So my guess would be it’s unlikely for the courts to demand that the Legislature within three days find a billion dollars. What they’ll do long-term, I don’t know, but common sense dictates that’s not the way the judge would go.”

Even if Jacobson orders the state to pay the additional $878 million due in 2014, Christie’s administration would appeal the order and at least gain time to adjust the budget. The payment would ultimately be made in a future budget, as the books on the 2014 budget will close by the end of July.

Sweeney said he hopes the unions win their lawsuit.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, said the state isn’t avoiding its pension payment, just “delaying the rate at which we catch up to make up for the indiscretions of previous governors.”

“It’s the best option of a batch of bad ones, but it is the least painful and the least destructive of our economy,” O’Scanlon said. “But no one is saying we will never make up that commitment. We know we have the obligation. And there’s no public worker whose pension check is going to be affected by this move at this time.”

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Republicans blast Dems on budget proposal

Star Ledger -

Democratic leaders in the state Legislature have reached agreement on a budget deal that raises taxes on businesses and income above $1 million, The Star-Ledger has learned.

The deal between Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto would raise more than $1.3 billion in new revenue and use that money to make the full payment required by law next year for the state pension system — $2.25 billion, instead of the $681 million Gov. Chris Christie is proposing.

But the Democrats’ budget plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is unlikely to become law. The Republican governor has said repeatedly that he will veto any business or income tax hikes. With his line-item veto power, Christie could also reduce the size of any pension payment Democrats include. And the Democrats lack enough votes in either house to override the governor’s vetoes.

After rolling out slightly different budget plans last week, Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Prieto (D-Hudson) essentially combined their proposals. Under the Democrats’ budget:

• The marginal tax rate on income above $1 million would rise from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent, retroactive to January of this year, netting $667 million.

• The corporate business tax would rise from 9 percent to 10.35 percent, yielding $375 million.

• The Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP) of tax abatements would be suspended for a year, freeing up $175 million.

• A tax hike on income between $500,000 and $1 million that Sweeney had proposed would be scrapped, as Prieto suggested.

In addition, some new taxes or fees Christie proposed would be folded into the Democrats’ budget, such as a penalty for making bad electronic payments ($25 million) and a move to subject all online retailers to the state sales tax ($25 million).

Taxes Christie proposed on electronic cigarettes and the Urban Enterprise Zone program would be cut out of the budget under the Democrats’ deal.

Prieto had pushed to restore funding cuts for the Earned Income Tax Credit, women’s health care centers, nursing homes, anti-domestic-violence programs, cancer research, legal services for the poor, and other items. The budget deal includes funding for all of those.

Assembly Republicans blasted the tax hike proposals at a news conference earlier today, saying the state already faces one of the highest overall tax burdens in the country, is mired in slow economic growth, and would be risking even more stagnation if it were to raise taxes.

Declan O'Scanlon

“It would be suicidal to New Jersey and New Jersey’s economy,” said Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth), the Republican budget officer in the Assembly.

“None of these taxes are just on millionaires,” he said, because it is likely that employers will tighten their belt in response to any tax increase, and pass along some added costs to their workforces.

Jon Bramnick

“This is a play to a special constituency, not a play for the average taxpayer,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union), who said the way to dig out of the state’s financial hole is to pass a constitutional amendment that would allow the Legislature to override court rulings mandating a certain level of school funding in urban districts.

Some districts spend $25,000 to $30,000 per student in those districts, with no good results, Republicans said. By capping school aid to districts at a lower level, the state could find the money to pay its quickly rising bills, they said.

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Schepisi Discusses Bridgegate Developments on NJTV [video]

Source: NJTV Online [video] -

Holly Schepisi

Assembly Republican Holly Schepisi joined host Michael Aron on “On the Record” to discuss the latest developments in Bridgegate controversy and the Select Committee on Investigation.

“I think the entire stated premise of this committee was to uncover the inner workings of the Port Authority, an agency that absolutely has to be reformed. We have not done that,” said Schepisi.

“There was an opportunity that we missed to put forth transparency legislation with our partners in New York, with the legislature in New York. For whatever reason,that press conference was cancelled. Their now breaking.”

 

On the Record

Episode

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Assembly Minority Leader Bramnick attacks Dem leadership budget battle proposals

PolitickerNJ -

In the face of Democratic proposals seeking to solve the state budget impasse that include a potential millionaires’ tax, state Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) targeted the operative three-letter word, then unloaded with an anti-tax tirade.

Jon Bramnick

“No more taxes. Not now. Not $1.6 billion,” said Bramnick during a Monday morning press conference at the State House, backed by 22 other GOP state legislators and referring to recent budget proposals made by State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and state Assembly Majority Leader Vincent Prieto (D-32). “[The Democrats] are raising the price of living in New Jersey, and are playing to a specific constituency, not to the average taxpayer.”

Sweeney has said that he won’t back down from a budget plan he proposed last week designed to fix the state’s ailing pension system.

The Sweeney proposal would raise $1.6 billion, an amount equal to the next pension payment promised by lawmakers’ original pension reform plan signed in 2011, over the next fiscal year by imposing a 10.25 percent tax rate on income over $500,000, and a 10.75 percent tax rate on income over $1 million. Comparatively, the state’s top tax rate is currently 8.97 percent, levied on income above $500,000.

Prieto, however, reportedly expressed his displeasure with Sweeney’s proposal during back-room budget discussions last week. Sources told PolitickerNJ.com that Prieto is instead promoting a true $1 million-and-more salary threshold for the proposed millionaires’ tax.

Governor Chris Christie’s plan calls for cutting $2.4 billion in pension contributions to public employees between now and 2015 to make up for an estimated $800 million revenue shortfall.

Emphasizing that Governor Christie has shown zero indication that he will even consider raising new taxes, Bramnick reiterated a familiar Republican mantra about the efficacy of taxes.

One point six billion dollars in new taxes is simply a bad idea, especially if you combine $1.6 billion in taxes with hundreds of tax increases over a decade that the Democrats have delivered to the state of New Jersey,” Bramnick said. “Where are we going when Senator Sweeney and Speaker Prieto have ended reforms in the state of New Jersey? If you recall, just a short while ago we were all on the same page, making New Jersey more affordable [with] less taxes and no new taxes. What’s changed?”

Bramnick then took an indirect shot at both Sweeney and at one of Prieto’s main political allies, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.

“What’s changed is a fight within the Democratic ranks for a primary bid in the gubernatorial election a couple of years from now,” referring to an anticipated fight between North Jersey’s Fulop and South Jersey’s Sweeney to be the Democratic standard bearer in the next governor’s race. “So now what the Democrats have done is basically gone back to their old tools, which is raising taxes. This is the worst policy that you could put forward.”

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Fiocchi: Democrats’ Plan ‘Disastrous’ for Struggling Middle-Class Families

Source: The Daily Journal -

Assembly Democrats are now on board with their Senate colleagues in pushing for higher income taxes on wealthy households to avoid cutting the pension payment in New Jersey’s 2015 budget.

Details of the Assembly Democrats’ budget blueprint remain sketchy, although Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Hudson, said he hopes the spending plan and associated tax increases will be approved by the Assembly next Thursday. The deadline to adopt a budget is June 30.

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

“Judging from their single-minded pursuit of tax increases, the Trenton Democrats’ plan will be disastrous for middle-class families struggling to find jobs and make ends meet. The last time New Jersey tried to tax itself out of its fiscal woes, thousands of residents left our state along with more than $70 billion in wealth. Rather than fiscal solvency, we were left with the largest structural budget deficit in the entire country.” – Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi

Prieto said he hoped to start the income-tax hike at $1 million, rather than at the $500,000 level proposed Wednesday by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester. He said other details envisioned by Senate Democrats, including a 15 percent surcharge on corporate business taxes and a one-year suspension of some grants to businesses, are similarly subject to ongoing talks.

“The way I look at it, the state of New Jersey has a revenue problem. I don’t think it has a spending problem,” Prieto said.

The Assembly proposes additional spending that wasn’t included in the Senate’s plan and lacks the detail about revenue-raisers that Sweeney announced this week.

Whatever the details of the Democrats’ compromise turn out to be, the plan will be vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.

“Different day, same plan for an already severely overtaxed state,” Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said.

This would be the fourth time Democratic lawmakers sent Christie a so-called “millionaires tax.” The governor vetoed similar plans in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Senate Democrats estimated a 10.75 percent tax rate on income over $1 million would generate $565 million in the coming budget year, not counting a one-time infusion — estimated at $105 million, which includes the impact of a 10.25 percent tax rate on income above $500,000 — generated by applying the tax retroactively on income since January.

Foremost among the obligations that Democrats say are being shirked is a $2.25 billion payment to the pension funds, rather than the $681 million Christie is proposing to offset reductions in the forecast for income tax collections. Unions have gone to court seeking to block the cuts in both the current and upcoming budgets, which total nearly $2.5 billion.

Union leaders cheered the plan, as they did the Senate’s proposal. Business organizations and Republicans criticized it.

“This is the same old tired song we hear repeatedly at budget time,” said Assemblywoman Bettylou DeCroce, R-Morris, of the more detailed Senate plan.

“A back-breaker for job-creators,” said Assemblyman Christopher Brown, R-Burlington.

Assembly Sam Fiocchi, R-Cumberland, panned the idea of tax hikes in response to the Senate Democrats’ proposal.

“Judging from their single-minded pursuit of tax increases, the Trenton Democrats’ plan will be disastrous for middle-class families struggling to find jobs and make ends meet,” Fiocchi said. “The last time New Jersey tried to tax itself out of its fiscal woes, thousands of residents left our state along with more than $70 billion in wealth. Rather than fiscal solvency, we were left with the largest structural budget deficit in the entire country.”

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Bramnick Discusses the Dems’ Millionaire’s Tax Plan with Gearhart on 101.5 [audio]

Source: NJ 101.5 [audio] -

Jon Bramnick

Today, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick called Jim Gearhart to discuss the possibility of a Millionaire’s Tax in New Jersey.

“This is like a business that is doing real poorly and then they raise the prices. It is counter-intuitive. It just doesn’t make any sense,” said Bramnick.

“To raise taxes, $2 billion in more taxes, that’s not just a job-killer, but how do you survive long term when people just say ‘I just can’t take it anymore.”

Taxes may be raised for wealthier people living in New Jersey, in order to help the failing pension system. Jim Gearhart and Assemblyman Jon Bramnick discussed alternatives to this proposal, and explained the proposal itself.

Click here to listen to the interview on NJ 101.5′s web site.

 

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