Daily Archives: June 14, 2010

NJPP Monday Minute 6/14/10: Cap 2.5: An Unnecessary Amendment to the Constitution

Gov. Christie has proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would limit property tax increases to 2.5 percent each year. This amendment, which he is calling Cap 2.5, is part of a 33 bill “tool kit” he claims will fix property taxes in New Jersey once and for all. Under his cap, property tax increases would be limited to 2.5 percent; only debt payments would be outside the cap; and the only way to go above 2.5 percent would be with a 60 percent override by the voting public.

Given the hype surrounding his plan, one might think local governments in New Jersey currently have complete freedom to spend as they wish – without limits.

Anyone who believes that would be wrong.

Municipal caps on property taxes have been in effect in New Jersey since 1976; county and school caps more recently. All have allowed important exemptions for extenuating circumstances such as services essential to the public’s health, safety and welfare.

In the past, each cap has been calculated differently, creating some confusion. The municipal cap allowed appropriations to increase by 2.5 percent or an “index rate”, whichever was less; the county cap allowed increases of 2.5 percent or the cost of living allowance set by the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs, whichever was less; and the school cap allowed increases of 2.5 percent or the CPI, whichever was greater.

Data in the chart from the New Jersey Division of Taxation show property tax revenues since 1966. Over those 43 years, statewide average property tax increases ranged from less than one percent between 1976 and 1977 to 15.3 percent between 1969 and 1970. The most recent data from the Division of Taxation show increases from 2008 to 2009 of 3.6 percent on average.

The common link between the lowest property tax increases has been the infusion of state money or other support. Only three times in the past 40 years have property tax increases been less than the 3.6 percent increase this past year:

  • 1976 – 1977 when the state income tax was enacted (.46%)
  • 1990 – 1991 when Gov. Florio increased income and sales tax rates to increase state aid to schools and municipalities (1.3%) and
  • 1996 – 1997 when the state took over cost of the courts from local governments.

That’s because of an imbalance in the state’s tax structure. Local government in New Jersey relies solely on property taxes and state aid for support. In other states, local governments have a more balanced source of revenue that includes local income and sales taxes in addition to property taxes. In the absence of higher state aid, municipalities could be helped by access to additional local revenue streams.

No doubt property taxes in New Jersey are high, but that does not mean New Jersey is a high tax state. Among all states, New Jersey ranks third in property taxes as a percentage of personal income, according to an analysis of Census data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. But when local income and sales taxes are figured in, too, New Jersey falls to 24th. And when all state and local revenues are combined, New Jersey is 31st among the states.

In New Jersey, school budgets tend to be the heaviest lift in terms of property taxes. As an average across the state, they account for nearly 60 percent of property taxes paid while municipal taxes account for about 25 percent to 30 percent and county taxes account for about 10 percent to 15 percent.

While history shows state money helps to constrict property tax growth, the 4 percent cap, enacted in April 2007, after months of deliberation by the Legislature during its special session on property tax reform, may prove to have the same effect in future years.

Last year was the first full year of the four percent cap. Preliminary evidence seems to indicate it is working. Between 2008 and 2009, the total amount raised by property taxes increased to just over $24 billion from $23.2 billion, or 3.6 percent.

Rather than make hasty policy by enacting a constitutional amendment, it would be wiser to allow the recent statutory property tax limits to continue reining in property tax increases as the legislation intended, and to provide real reforms that rebalance the local tax system.

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ Division of Taxation, tax cap

The Ashley Lauren Foundation: Rock For Hope

Ashley Lauren Logo

Rock for Hope
Get ready for June’s high energy event!
This concert is being sponsored by Wellspring Stables to benefit
The Ashley Lauren Foundation.
Sunday, June 27th from 5-9pm
The Downtown, 10 Front St. Red Bank.
Attendees will enjoy a great evening of live entertainment by Jersey’s best local talent The Mike Dalton Band, The Jamie Brown Experience, The Imitations, Antonella Barba and Charlie Mack
The evenings emcee will be on-air personality Lisa Anderson from
The Breeze Radio, 107.1
Gather a bunch of friends, Come out and make your Sunday count asyou will be supporting a wonderful cause.
Tickets now on sale: $35 and $40 at the door.
VIP packages available.
Please buy tickets through the donation link on
Proceeds will benefit The Ashley Lauren Foundation, whose mission is to bring hope and help to children in New Jersey that have been diagnosed with cancer through financial, material and emotional support.
For further event information, visit http://www.ashleylaurenfoundation.org
call Victoria 732.688.1772
The Ashley Lauren Foundation is a non-profit, charitable organization founded to help others face the battle against pediatric cancer, “Hope and Help for Children with Cancer”

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Filed under Ashley Lauren Foundation, Pediatric cancer, Red Bank NJ, Rock for Hope

It’s Flag Day !

I should be ashamed of myself for not remembering that today was Flag Day, if it hadn’t been for a post on facebook today by Congressman Frank Pallone I would have totally forgotten about it altogether.

Flag Day is one of those non-discript holidays we all learn about in grammar school but never seem to remember afterward, which is a real shame when we consider what symbols our “Old Glory” stand for; Liberty, Freedom, Honor and Prosperity.

Thanks to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs I found a brief history on the Origins of Flag Day that I would like to share:

“That the flag of the United States shall be of thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field, representing the new constellation.”

This was the resolution adopted by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The resolution was made following the report of a special committee which had been assigned to suggest the flag’s design.

A flag of this design was first carried into battle on September 11, 1777, in the Battle of the Brandywine. The American flag was first saluted by foreign naval vessels on February 14, 1778, when the Ranger, bearing the Stars and Stripes and under the command of Captain Paul Jones, arrived in a French port. The flag first flew over a foreign territory in early 1778 at Nassau, Bahama Islands, where Americans captured a British fort.
Observance of the adoption of the flag was not soon in coming, however. Although there are many claims to the first official observance of Flag Day, all but one took place more than an entire century after the flag’s adoption in 1777.
The first claim was from a Hartford, Conn., celebration during the first summer of 1861. In the late 1800s, schools all over the United States held Flag Day programs to contribute to the Americanization of immigrant children, and the observance caught on with individual communities.
The most recognized claim, however, comes from New York. On June 14, 1889, Professor George Bolch, principal of a free kindergarten for the poor of New York City, had his school hold patriotic ceremonies to observe the anniversary of the Flag Day resolution. This initiative attracted attention from the State Department of Education, which arranged to have the day observed in all public schools thereafter.
Soon the state legislature passed a law making it the responsibility of the state superintendent of public schools to ensure that schools hold observances for Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day and Flag Day. In 1897, the governor of New York ordered the displaying of the flag over all public buildings in the state, an observance considered by some to be the first official recognition of the anniversary of the adoption of the flag outside of schools.

Another claim comes from Philadelphia. In 1893, the Society of Colonial Dames succeeded in getting a resolution passed to have the flag displayed on all of the city’s public buildings.
Elizabeth Duane Gillespie, a direct descendant of Benjamin Franklin and the president of the Colonial Dames of Pennsylvania, that same year tried to get the city to call June 14 Flag Day. Resolutions by women were not granted much notice, however, and it was not until May 7, 1937, that Pennsylvania became the first state to establish the June 14 Flag Day as a legal holiday. Flag Day is a nationwide observance today, but Pennsylvania is the only state that recognizes it as a legal holiday.
Bernard J. Cigrand, a school teacher in Waubeka, Wisconsin, reportedly spent years trying to get Congress to declare June 14 as a national holiday. Although his attempts failed, the day was widely observed. “Father of Flag Day” honors have been given to William T. Kerr, who was credited with founding the American Flag Day Association in 1888 while still a schoolboy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Both President Wilson, in 1916, and President Coolidge, in 1927, issued proclamations asking for June 14 to be observed as the National Flag Day. But it wasn’t until August 3, 1949, that Congress approved the national observance, and President Harry Truman signed it into law.

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Filed under Congressman Frank Pallone, Facebook, Flag Day, US Department of Veterans Affairs


President Obama gives a strong Hip-Hop performance in the video below as he unleashes his anger on BP during his interview with Matt Lauer.

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Filed under BP Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico, hip-hop, Matt Lauer, President Obama