Remember how Governor Jon S. Corzine and the Democrats in the Legislature promised "permanent" property tax relief when they raised the state sales tax in 2006?
Remember how Governor Corzine and the Democrats said if only the voters approve a constitutional referendum (which they did) to dedicate a half-cent of that sales tax increase to property tax relief that the program would be "sustainable" for all time?
Remember how in 2007 Governor Corzine and the Democrats approved a 20 percent increase in property tax rebates and gave their solemn word that the program would be "permanent" and "sustainable"?
Remember when Governor Corzine said providing property tax relief "and then retreating in a year or two because we don't have the money is neither desirable nor acceptable"?
Well, forget it. Diamonds may be forever, but not property tax rebates or the promises made by Governor Corzine and the Democrats in the Legislature. State Treasurer David Rousseau, who only a couple of weeks ago told the Assembly Budget Committee that he didn't believe New Jersey residents are overtaxed, proved he wasn't kidding on Tuesday during a return engagement before the legislative panel.
It wasn't enough that Governor Corzine proposed dismantling much of what was left of the property tax rebate program in his budget for the upcoming fiscal year. You may remember that Corzine said he would reduce non-senior homestead rebates for those earning between $50,000 and $75,000, and eliminate rebates entirely for families earning over $75,000.
That was then. Now, Rousseau told the committee no one will get property tax rebates unless they are a senior citizen or disabled. And, by the way, the governor is going to raise the state income tax to a level that is the highest in the nation and increase taxes on health insurance premiums as well.
In the blink of an eye, Corzine and the Democrats robbed nearly $2 billion in direct property tax relief that struggling middle class families were counting on to help them hold onto their homes and make it through these difficult economic times.
Eliminating property tax rebates for all but senior citizens will "save" the Democrats about a billion dollars to prop up their budget. Doing away with the property tax deduction for every person or household with a combined annual income exceeding $150,000 will divert another $160 million away from property tax relief.
In other words, the ironclad guarantee the Democrats gave the taxpayers in 2006 and again in 2007 was a lie. Corzine and Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Lou Greenwald, D-Camden, who promised in February to "fight to the death" to preserve the rebates, claimed the national economic downturn left them no choice.
Assembly Republicans said the truth is Corzine and the Democrats systematically sabotaged the rebate program by refusing to curtail excessive state spending, eliminate waste or manage the taxpayers' money wisely. Now they want you to bail them out and save them from their own ineptitude.
Republicans, who offered $5 billion in budget cuts over the past three years that were ignored by the Democrats as well as a package of structural reforms that would have ended the state's fiscal follies once and for all, said the Democrats should be held accountable for their mistakes - in much the same way Corzine challenged the taxpayers to hold him accountable for what he does or fails to do when he was sworn in as governor.