Candidate Murphy Promised Help, But Proposed Budget Doesn't Fully Restore Homestead Program

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Mention property taxes and most New Jersey homeowners will respond with a visceral reaction.

“Oh, New Brunswick got hammered,” said Regis Methven of Highland Park.

“They are absolutely outrageous,” said Lind Raimondi. “I live in Franklin Township, (my) townhouse property at $5,400 a year is insane.”

During his campaign, Gov. Phil Murphy pledged tax relief for low income, seniors and disabled residents, but some say his budget misses the mark.

“We’ve all worked hard to keep property taxes down, yet the Murphy administration sending a message to property tax payers that it simply not a priority should scare every taxpayer in New Jersey,” said Republican Sen. Declan J. O’Scanlon Jr.

A 50 percent cut to Homestead rebates was put into last year’s budget to avert a government shutdown, but is now being kept for 2019.

The benefit is available to seniors and disabled homeowners earning less than $150,000 dollars a year and all other homeowners with income below $75,000.

“I’m disabled and struggle at times, taxes are outrageous,” said Methven. “Friends sold property and going out of state.”

When confronted about the disconnect between campaign promises and his written budget, the governor framed his answer

“I would say with great respect there has never been a budget that provides more relief to the middle class and those who aspire to be in middle class,” said Murphy to CBS2’s Meg Baker.

Many approaching retirement said if taxes go up, they can’t stay in the Garden State.

“I’m going to Florida right now to scope out properties,” said Raimondi. “You can’t stay here. It’s a shame because I love living here.””

Murphy says middle class families will receive other forms of benefits.

“Whether investment infrastructure, education including pre-K, community college and higher education – this budget delivers overwhelmingly on campaign promises,” said Murphy.

When the Homestead rebate fully funded a few years ago, the benefit averaged $515 dollars for seniors and disabled homeowners, and $400 dollars for all other eligible homeowners. If the current budget is passed, those benefits will be cut in half.