Monday, May 10, 2010

Christie Unveils Ambitious Reform Package

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today took the necessary next step in bringing bold, fundamental reform to New Jersey by presenting to the Legislature a 33-bill package of reforms aimed at solving New Jersey’s property tax crisis.

The bill package, representing the legislative component of the Christie Reform Agenda, will put a hard cap on property tax increases and state spending at 2.5 percent, while giving municipalities, school districts, higher education institutions and county governments the necessary tools to control their costs and live within the cap.

“For far too long, New Jerseyans have been on the receiving end of higher and higher taxes imposed by state and local governments, which have been unable or unwilling to curb costs. Today, that comes to an end,” said Governor Christie. “With this package of bills, we are now taking action to bring to an end the current property tax crisis and giving people real relief. After talking about the direction we need to move, we now need to get down to business and enact these reforms.

“Today, we take an important step closer to lasting property tax relief. I am committed to working with the legislature so we can act and get this done to finally fulfill a long overdue obligation to the people of New Jersey to bring property taxes under control,” said Christie.

The centerpiece of this legislative package is “Cap 2.5,” a constitutional amendment creating a 2.5% cap on the increase in the property tax levy by municipal, school and county taxes and a 2.5% cap on spending for State government operations. Under Governor Christie’s proposal, the property tax levy cap allows for adjustments in the event a municipality adds new ratables, and provides a single exclusion from the cap: debt service payments. Current law provides for a 4% cap with at least 13 broad exclusions that render the cap virtually meaningless.

The package of bills provides key reform in a number of other critical areas for local government entities to directly address cost drivers and make living within “Cap 2.5” realistic and realizable. The Governor has recommended reform in the areas of civil service, collective bargaining, employee pensions and benefits, red tape and unfunded mandates, election reform and shared services.

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