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Gov. Christie Gets $900 Million Surprise; Now What To Do With It?

Debate Already Raging In N.J.; With Property Tax Relief Possible
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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (credit: Mark Lennihan/AP)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (credit: Mark Lennihan/AP)

Christine Sloan thumbnail Christine Sloan
Emmy-award winning journalist Christine Sloan joined CBS 2 News in...
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METUCHEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The state of New Jersey has suddenly found out its got extra cash — hundreds of millions of dollars. And now the great debate: should the money be saved or should you see property tax relief?

CBS 2’s Christine Sloan has more on the $900 million surprise.

Like in many towns, Metuchen homeowners are dealing with skyrocketing property taxes. Mary Pat Domino said she can barely keep up with payments and she may be losing her job.

“I work in a supermarket right now and they’re in chapter 11. Everybody is struggling and you got to help the next guy out,” Domino said.

For Domino and others there may be some relief. On Tuesday during a hearing, legislative and budget finance officer David Rosen — a non-partisan member of the staff — told legislators the Garden State will have extra money. His projections are based on income tax returns.

“We’ve been able to increase our overall revenue forecast by $913 million,” Rosen said.

Democrats want to see the surplus go toward property tax relief for senior citizens and the middle class.

“To me, if you want to reduce taxes in the state of New Jersey the most burdensome taxes are property taxes,” Assemblyman Lou Greenwald said.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo, head of the budget committee, told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams that he wants property tax relief and increased school aid.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams With State Sen. Paul Sarlo

State treasurer Andrew Sidamon Eristoff said the Chris Christie administration income tax projections are about $400 million less.

“Happy days are not here again,” the treasurer said.

He was grilled by Democrats.

“What is the governor’s plan with the impact on property taxpayers around the state?” Greenwald asked.

“The governor believes that it is important, to the extent that we have some additional resources, we invest in property tax relief,” Eristoff responded.

The governor’s spokesperson said: “New Jerseyans will see their property tax relief triple through the Homestead Benefits Program if health benefits reform gets done.”

But Republicans said there are other priorities.

“We have pension payments to make. That’s a lot less sexy and buys a lot less votes,” Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon said.

Republicans and Democrats will be negotiating at the statehouse over the coming months to determine exactly where the money should go.

Legislators have to pass a budget by June 30. Republicans said one factor that will determine their plans will be a decision by the state Supreme Court on whether the Christie administration should pay money it took away from school districts.

What do you think Gov. Christie should do with the extra money? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.


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