Phil Murphy was just elected Governor of New Jersey this week. I hope he keeps his promise to make taxes here fairer, and more affordable because as you probably know, New Jersey is way too expensive! It’s our job as the people who elected him to serve us to make sure he does what he said he would do.
At the heart of our tax crisis and what makes New Jersey so expensive is our present inability to fully fund our public schools. An actual “school funding formula” was established by the New Jersey legislature back in 2008 but Governor Chris Christie refused to actually follow the formula, even though the New Jersey Supreme Court literally ordered him to do it last January.
For a clearer understanding of why this school funding formula is so important consider what David Danzis explained in the New Jersey Herald last February.
He said: “376 school districts throughout New Jersey are underfunded based on [the formula]. Worse still, 239 of those districts receive less than 70 percent of what they should be getting. Conversely, 209 districts receive more than 100 percent of what the law says they should get.”
And the consequence? Our serious, statewide property tax crisis. And for renters- that’s driving up costs for us too since landlords and the owners of apartment complexes have to pay that tax and charge us more to make a profit.
Danzis quotes Newton Superintendent Ken Greene who spoke to the NJ legislature last January: “Districts are forced to try and make up the differences by raising their local taxes.”
In other words, property taxes: taxes on home ownership and business buildings too.
But with home and business owners- particularly in the middle class- paying so much money just to live and work in New Jersey while some of the richest in our state literally get away with not paying their taxes, the set up we college students are working so hard to begin our new lives in is absurdly unfair!
Phil Murphy grasps this and told Christian Hetrick of The Observer last June that he would fully fund the school formula and he would raise taxes on the New Jersey’s richest to cover the costs.
Republicans might argue that this is an unfair attack on the rich, who are guilty only of being successful, but we must keep in mind, some of these people are the ones who have been paying us minimum wage that is impossible to live on. In other words, some have been getting rich because they’ve been exploiting us.
Murphy told Claude Brosesser-Anker of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com last July, if elected he would eliminate “a tax loophole that allows corporations to shift profit made in New Jersey to lower-taxed states.”
This particular policy is referred to as “combined reporting.”
According to The Institute for Local Self-Reliance in a June, 2010 report “Closing State Corporate Tax Loopholes: Combined Reporting” this policy has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court,” and is the law of the land in 25 states “As of December 2015.”
Especially noteworthy here: it’s not just the Democratic states like Hawaii, Vermont, and our beloved neighbor, New York. It’s also Republican states like Utah, Texas and Idaho. So Murphy and our state legislature in theory really shouldn’t have a problem with this. This is just one loophole he says he’ll get rid of.
There are other aspects of Murphy’s plan but the last one I want to mention is his call for legalizing marijuana because he told Brent Johnson of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com back in August that he “projects” the legalization of marijuana could raise “300 million a year in tax revenue.” Not to mention, as he’s said throughout the campaign- there’s also the social justice element here.
Many New Jerseyans have been unfairly imprisoned for the sale and/or possession of marijuana, and frankly, as many know, it has been disproportionately minorities, so, the tax issue aside, it needs be legalized.
I’m happy Murphy has a plan to make home ownership in New Jersey possibly much more affordable. I am willing to give him a chance, but we’ve got to keep our eyes on him and make sure he does what he promised: increase taxes on the rich, get rid of those tax loopholes, and legalize marijuana.