Daily Archives: November 8, 2010

>Chatterbox Newsletter: We congratulate all of the winners of the 2010 election; Now the work begins


The following column was written by Carol Stiglin and appears in the monthly newsletter “The Chatterbox”.The Chatterbox is the newsletter put together for the senior residents who reside at Shadow Lake Village in Middletown.
By Carol Stiglin

“We can have a democratic society or we can have the concentration of great wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both.”Louis Brandeis

We congratulate all of the winners of the 2010 election: Rush Holt re-elected to the U.S. Congress 12th District, Golden for Sheriff, Clifton and Arnone elected to the Board of Chosen Freeholders and Sharfenberger re-elected and Settembrino newly elected to the Middletown Township Committee.

We thank John D’Amico for three years on the Board of Chosen Freeholders working for fiscal responsibility, transparency and ethics standards. John and his running mate, Janice Venables, as well as Eric Brophy running for Sheriff, were a credit to the democratic process. We thank Sean Byrnes for three years of extraordinary service to Middletown. Sean and his running mate, Mary Mahoney, ran an honest and credible campaign.

Now the work begins.

The people have spoken and they want “change” (as they often do,) but then the question, change from what to what? From bigger government to smaller government, they say. What does that mean, we ask? What government policies and departments do we cut?

Do voters want to eliminate Social Security, and Medicare? Shall we do away with Department of Transportation, and FAA, and not worry about land and air safety. Is the food and Drug Administration necessary? Do we need a Department of Education to plan for the education of the nation’s children? Do we need consumer protection or will manufacturers be honest about their products? Is it OK to cut spending on infrastructure and not be concerned about what happens to our bridges and tunnels? Should we privatize Social Security and let the Wall St. wizards manage our money? Do we need oversight of the financial industry? Should we have a flat tax of 20% so that a person who earns $30,000. annually pays $6000. taxes? Do we need Homeland Security? Should we stop both wars and bring the troops home? Would we choose to not save money and not give all Americans real security with a comprehensive health care plan – a plan that will insure 30 million more people instead of having them use emergency rooms, a plan that prevents an insurance company from dropping your insurance if you get sick, a plan that allows dependents to stay on their parents policies until they are 26, a plan that makes insurers cover preventive services and annual checkups without cost-sharing, a plan that eliminates lifetime limits on how much an insurance company will pay for treatment? Do we not want this plan? What does small government mean to you?

We further have to ask ourselves about extending the Bush tax cuts which are about to expire, and which, if permanently extended, would cost $4 trillion over the next decade. That’s $4 trillion added to the national debt. Some want to temporarily extend the cuts for 98% of the taxpayers – the middle and lower class who would, of necessity, use the money to buy goods and stimulate the economy. Some want to extend the tax cuts for all including the top 2% which alone would cost $700.billion over the next decade and by all economists’ standards would not stimulate the economy. “The richest 1/10 of 1% would get a tax cut of $370,000 according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and that provides only a modest economic stimulus because the rich are less likely to spend their tax savings” and historically such tax cuts have not produced jobs. Moreover, the honest voter has to ask the question – what services would I eliminate to make up for that $700,000,000,000. in revenue not collected? Is it OK to stop unemployment benefits for the 14.8 million unemployed people before the holiday? “Will we choose to help zillionaires instead of the unemployed?” Nicholas Kristof asks.

On the local level in Middletown, do we continue with the one-party rule and the form of government that has led to a 45% increase in the municipal portion of the taxes in the past six years due to mismanagement and lack of planning?

These are the questions each of us must ask and answer as we go into the next year. Shimon Peres says, “The vision of the future should shape the agenda for the present.” Whatever that future is, we will share it together. Amen.

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Filed under Carol Stiglin, Newsletter, Shadow Lake Village, The Chatterbox

>NJPP Monday Minute 11/8/10: Honoring veterans with a tax break

On Thursday, Americans will formally honor the nation’s military veterans. Veteran’s Day is a federal holiday and is observed annually on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. On that day, major hostilities were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice. The holiday is officially celebrated in other parts of the world as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.

Former New Jersey Governor and U. S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed an Armistice Day for November 30, 1919. Seven years later Congress declared the holiday should be moved to November 11 as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace…”

One of the ways New Jersey and most other states honor their veterans is through property tax breaks. New Jersey provides a $250 annual property tax deduction to veterans who are U. S. citizens and New Jersey residents and who have been honorably discharged from active service during war-time. Since 1947, this benefit has been protected by a provision in the State Constitution and has increased from $50 to its current level. Since 2003, when the deduction was raised to its current level, there have been no increases. Surviving spouses and domestic/civil union partners continue to receive this benefit as long as they do not remarry.

These property tax deductions are available only to veterans who served during wartime, including those who have served or are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The number of veterans claiming this deduction has decreased by more than 30 percent in the past 10 years, from 337,344 in 2000 to 257,366 this year. This decrease is expected to continue as New Jersey veterans continue to age.

Municipalities currently administer this program and the state reimburses them 102 percent – the entire cost of the deduction plus 2 percent for administrative costs. This calendar year, the deduction has cost the state $65.5 million, an amount that like the number of veterans has been declining each year since its appropriation peaked at $81 million in 2003.

A smaller number of veterans – those rated 100 percent disabled by the federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs and who served during war-time – are totally exempt from paying property taxes. In 2010, 6,790 New Jersey veterans qualified for this exemption.

For more information on this deduction and eligibility for this benefit, go to the deduction application.

As Veterans Day approaches, thank the veterans for their valiant efforts against tyranny and for their peacekeeping efforts around the world.

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Filed under Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, tax deductions, Veterans Day, Veterans.