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Sweeney: Christie Offers Tax Relief — For the Rich

The N.J. Senate President tells a town-hall meeting crowd that the governor's plan is "too complicated" and doesn't help middle-class taxpayers.

Gov. Chris Christie says that he and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney agree on property-tax relief. Sweeney told a town-hall audiences Monday night that they shouldn't believe the governor.

The Democrat spent much of the town hall distancing himself from Christie, saying that the governor’s tax relief plan is too complicated and focuses more on helping wealthy New Jersey taxpayers, not the middle class.

Christie touts “an income tax plan where 95 percent of the money goes to the wealthy,” Sweeney said. “My plan, the Senate plan, all of the money goes to the middle class because it’s capped at $250,000 (annual income).”

Sweeney hosted the town hall at Camden County College to promote his plan with fellow Democrats, state Senators Fred Madden and James Beach. Between the three districts, the senators represent much of Camden and Gloucester counties, as well as part of Burlington, Cumberland and Salem.

The plan “isn’t really complicated. It isn’t sexy. It’s pretty simple,” Sweeney said. Take your property tax bill, provided you earn less than $250,000, and divide it by 10—that’s the savings the Democrats’ bill offers, he said.

Christie’s plan relies on a series of calculations that uses income, annual property taxes, income tax deductions and multipliers and subtractors to arrive at a savings, Sweeney said. But the bottom line, he added, is that more New Jerseyans will save with the Democrats’ plan.

Charts displayed average savings town-by-town in a comparison of the Democrat vs. Christie plan. In Collingswood, the Democrat plan would save taxpayers $693 on average, compared to $111 under Christie.

New Jersey Senate Democrats have a comparison savings calculator at their website, Real Relief.

“If you put money in the hands of people that actually need it, they spend it. And that means the tax cut goes back into the economy, which helps create jobs,” Sweeney said. Wealthy people tend to save, not spend, the money, he added. “Give those tax cuts to the middle class and they’ll actually go out and spend. That’s when tax cuts really work.”

Since taking office, Christie has sliced taxes for the wealthy, while average property tax bill has shot up 20 percent, Sweeney said.

There didn’t appear to be much dissent among the 60 town hall attendees, if lack of push back is any indication. Instead, the freewheeling Q&A offered a snapshot into the minds of residents and their concerns.

There was the 23-year resident of Cherry Hill who already knows she can’t afford to retire in New Jersey. And the senior citizens who asked about cutting taxes for residents who don’t have children in the school systems. The mom who spoke through tears over what she calls the “politicization” of public education in New Jersey. And the man who said Democrats need to fight Christie’s feistiness—often on display when someone publicly argues with the governor—with their own sound bites.

Most comments seemed to carry the same general theme.

“As a family, we only have a set amount of dollars and we have to spend them wise,” a Cherry Hill man said. “I just want the government to spend my money wise too.”

Sweeney tried to address individual concerns, but often turned the debate back to Christie and his administration, saying that the governor prioritizes the wealthy over the middle class. Property tax relief must not follow that path, Sweeney insisted.

“This isn’t the perfect solution—there’s more work to be done,” Sweeney conceded about the Democrats’ plan. “But when you have the ability to help some people, this is the fastest way and the easiest way to do it.”

jim April 03, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Thank you ! Senator Stephen Sweeney hit the nail on the head , The middle class who are mostly the working poor and the poor have to spend to exist .The wealthy save and make money off the middle class (the worker bees), which lets be frank it is what it is ! I would save if I could , as long as we vote in fat cats that cater to only the wealthy ,they have the ties ,some obviously to tight ! it is our fault !
Sally McBride April 03, 2012 at 09:13 PM
so the working poor and the middle class are now the same?
Sally McBride April 03, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Let just tax the "rich" at 50%. And we can define the "rich" as all the people we need to tax to have all of the money we need. The rest of the people can pay $0. As long as we only have to tax less than 50% of the citizens, I am sure we can get this passed
Sheila April 04, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Oh, Sally McBride.... There is only this much one needs to spend for sustenance. Not that I support poor, lazy people without ambition and initiative for their own life but come on.... Taxes should be in proportion to one's earnings. Extra cut fire the rich is ridiculous. If you are wealthy be happy with what you have and don't be greedy. And remember: where we are going money means nothing. In the meantime pay for the luxuries you are enjoying.
A Touch of Sanity April 04, 2012 at 08:16 PM
As far as property taxes go the more you own the more you should pay. If you can't afford the taxes then don't over buy. Property taxs should be directly related to the value of the individuals real estate and the revenue received by the taxing party, school district, municipal government, and county should be proportionate to waht they contribute to the real estates value. When pruchasing property the school district is the number one consideration then the town and then actually the proximity to transportation. Therefore the county ned not get very much from property taxes, at least not as much as they get now. Fair income taxes should be a FLAT percentage of an individuals income without deductions for property taxes and other investment costs for which the individual has options. THe percentage should be set based on the proportionate nedds of the taxing entity. That would be fair. Because I earn more or less than someone who may work harder, ahve more education than I do should not mean I pay a lower percentage of my income in taxes. Chances are I more of the tax revenue generated goes to supporting my needs than someone who earns more.
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