Category Archives: New Jersey

President Obama Signs New Jersey Emergency Declaration

Washington – The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of New Jersey and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Irene beginning on August 26, 2011, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all counties of the State of New Jersey.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named William L. Vogel as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION MEDIA SHOULD CONTACT: FEMA NEWS DESK AT (202) 646-3272 OR FEMA-NEWS-DESK@DHS.GOV

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Filed under FEMA, Hurricane Irene, New Jersey, President Obama, state of emergency

As A Matter Of Fact…Tax Them And They Leave? Apparently NOT


August 4th, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

By Mary E. Forsberg

In 2008, 16,000 New Jersey taxpayers earned $1 million or more. That’s more than in any year before or since 2001 with only one exception – the boom year 2006. In that year, 18,400 New Jersey taxpayers earned more than $1 million. In the following year, only 15,900 taxpayers earned more than $1 million but their average income was $3.5 million, the highest average in any year to date. The numbers tell many stories. Did 2,400 high income people leave New Jersey between 2006 and 2008? Or was their income simply subject to the vagaries of Wall Street and the economy?

Anecdotes abound: So-and-so has a house in New Jersey and one in Florida and decided to call Florida his residence to avoid paying any state income tax (Florida has none). No one knows how often this happens.

Some things, however, are known.

According to data compiled over more than 20 years by the Internal Revenue Service, the average household income of those who move to New Jersey from other states is higher than that of households leaving New Jersey for other states.

Three states (New York, Pennsylvania and Florida) consistently account for the highest number of households moving into and out of New Jersey from elsewhere in the United States.

IRS data analyzed by NJPP in 2003 found no correlation between tax increases or cuts and movement into or out of New Jersey. It was not uncommon for the number of people coming to New Jersey the year after an income tax increase to exceed the number leaving or for the number leaving the year after a tax cut to exceed the number coming in. Further, in most years it was the case that both the number coming and leaving rose and fell in tandem.

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Tax Flight is a Myth: Higher State Taxes Bring More Revenue, Not More Migration,” provides an up-to-date rigorous examination of the unproven claims that tax hikes drive large numbers of households – particularly the most affluent – to other states. It concludes the following:

Migration is not common. Just 1.7 percent of U.S. residents per year moved from one state to another between 2001 and 2010.
The migration that is occurring is more likely to be driven by cheaper housing than by lower taxes. The difference between housing costs in two different states is often many times greater than the difference in taxes.

Recent research shows income tax increases cause little or no interstate migration. New Jersey is used as an example in two different studies examined in the report. The first, conducted by Stanford University sociologists, estimated the migration effect of New Jersey’s 2004 tax increase on filers with incomes exceeding $500,000. The authors found that net out-migration did increase for those in that income group but it also increased for those with lower incomes – and by virtually the same amount. The second report which was commissioned by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce found that most of the people included in the study who were moving from New Jersey had less than $500,000 a year in taxable income so would not have been subject to New Jersey’s highest 8.97 percent marginal tax rate. Despite this, the governor continues to claim this study as evidence of a tax-migration effect.

Low taxes can prevent a state from maintaining the kind of high-quality public services that people value, such as good schools, mass transit, cultural facilities and recreational opportunities.

Policymakers need honest and accurate information about the implications of tax increases and tax cuts in order to address the challenging fiscal and economic circumstances that most states continue to face. State policy makers should not let false claims about taxes and migration shape their decisions.

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Filed under As a Matter of Fact, Florida, high taxes, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, public service quality of life, tax migration

>New Jersey Policy Perspective President Deborah Howlett’s statement on the FY2012 New Jersey state budget

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July 1, 2011

Governor Christie’s profligate use of the line item veto on the state budget enacted by the Legislature this week did serious damage to virtually every constituency imaginable in this state – except for corporations and the super-rich.

Christie red-lined a litany of critical funding needs: health care for working families; tax credits for low-wage workers; after school programs for inner-city youth; legal counsel for indigent defendants; drugs for people with AIDS; college scholarships for gifted middle-class students; a resource center for Hispanic women; protective services for abused children; postpartum education; legal clinics; libraries; museums; mental health services; technology and even public television programming. The list is as long as it is damaging.

Unlike responsible governors in states such as Connecticut and California, Christie chose only to make cuts in services to balance the state budget. He refused to sustain the critical investments in New Jersey’s social infrastructure that have allowed all of its residents to enjoy a broadly shared prosperity.

The only winners in the governor’s budget are corporations that will continue to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax subsidies; those wealthy residents whose yearly income exceeds $1 million; and a governor who continues to choose partisan politics over sound public policy.

It’s now up to the Legislature to right these wrongs by over-riding the governor’s veto, line-by-line if necessary.

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Filed under budget adoption, Gov. Chris Christie, line item veto, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ State Budget

>AS a Matter Of Fact…Busting the myth: The real numbers show N.J. is not the most overtaxed state in the nation

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By Mary E. Forsberg and Deborah Howlett
June 26th, 2011

Perhaps you’ve heard a politician or two, in an accusatory tone, declare New Jersey has the highest taxes in the nation. It’s become a rallying cry for the current administration. It is repeated as an indisputable fact by the media. But mostly it just sounds right to people, perhaps because it so neatly fits the cynical narrative of government waste, fraud and abuse.
The thing is, it’s not true.

Consider this from a recent press release by the Connecticut House Republican Party:
“Connecticut residents already pay the highest taxes in America.”
Or this from the Buffalo News editorial page: “New York is the most overtaxed state in the nation.”
Nope. According to the Orange County chapter of the Lambda Alpha economics society, “California is the most overtaxed state in the nation,”
And from a conservative pundit in Chicago: “I live in Illinois … the most overtaxed state in the union.”
But wait. There’s another. The vice chair of the Maine Republican Party has said, “Maine is currently the most overtaxed state in America.”
They can’t all be right.
For the record, New Jersey ranks eighth among all states when state and local tax revenues are compared as a percentage of taxpayer’s personal income, according to an analysis using data from the U.S. Census and the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. It’s the cleanest comparison of the tax “burden” in all 50 states. New Jersey’s ranking drops considerably once you get past property taxes and look only at state tax collections.
Simply comparing total revenue collected from taxes in each state would produce a wholly inaccurate comparison because poorer, less-populated states would always appear to tax less. Measuring as a percentage of personal income, or on a per capita basis, provides necessary
context and a more accurate comparison among states.
Consider the big three state revenue sources in New Jersey — income, corporate and sales taxes — and then size up property taxes.

Income tax


On a per capita basis, New Jersey ranks seventh among states for income tax revenues, according to U.S. Census data. As a percentage of personal income, New Jersey ranks 19th among states.
It’s important to understand New Jersey is consistently at the top of lists that rank states in terms of median income and millionaires (those with at least $1 million in investable or liquid assets) as a percentage of households.
With all that wealth, the state also has a progressive income tax that collects significant amounts of its revenue from the wealthiest in the state and virtually none from the poorest, such as married couples whose incomes are less than $20,000 ($10,000 for a single person).
The progressive aspect of New Jersey’s income tax has evolved since the state’s first 2 percent flat tax was enacted in 1976. Public opinion polls show a vast majority approve of raising rates levied on income that exceeds $1 million a year.
Other states also have local income taxes. Philadelphia, for example, levies a 3.928 percent wage tax on residents and a 3.4985 percent wage tax on nonresidents on top of the state’s 3.07 percent flat income tax. Cities in New Jersey are barred from imposing income taxes on workers.
Corporate Tax

Corporate taxes in New Jersey rank ninth as a percentage of personal income and sixth when measured per capita.
New Jersey took in a little more than $2 billion in fiscal year 2010 from corporations, or 7.5 percent of all revenue collected by the state. However, 93 percent of the 252,000 corporations subject to New Jersey’s corporate business tax paid the state less than $2,000 each. Corporate revenues for the year surpassed $24.6 billion.
Sales Tax

Comparing revenue from the sales tax puts New Jersey 19th on a per capita basis and 36th when measured as a percent of personal income.
The state sales tax is often cited as one of the highest in the nation because of its 7 percent rate. However, it is applied more narrowly than sales taxes are in many other states.
Food, clothing and gas are exempt, for example. Depending how one looks at it, that is a loss to the state or a savings to taxpayers of about $2.6 billion.
Nor does New Jersey allow cities or counties to collect local sales taxes, which many other states allow.
Montgomery, Ala., levies a 10 percent sales tax (4 percent state; 6 percent local) on everything sold, including food.
In Georgia, a 12 percent combined state and local sales tax is the norm in some areas of the state.
Property Taxes

What’s abundantly clear, however you slice the data, is that New Jersey ranks among the top one or two states in the nation when it comes to property taxes, which are the only real source of revenue for local government in the Garden State. Last year, property taxes produced $25 billion in revenues, exceeding revenue from the state’s three major taxes.
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In total, as a percentage of personal income, taxes in New Jersey rank about eighth among all the states. Considering it ranks near the top for median income and wealth, that designation hardly seems out of line.
But those are not the numbers pushed by anti-tax zealots. Groups such as the conservative Tax Foundation have cited New Jersey as having the highest tax burden in the nation, using a convoluted formula that doesn’t quite parse the intricacies of local tax laws.
For example, the Tax Foundation charges back to New Jersey the $2.6 billion in income taxes paid to New York by New Jersey residents who work in New York and must abide by New York tax laws, over which New Jersey has no control.
By the way, that $2.6 billion is not just a blip in the data. It is more than New Jersey collects from its corporation business tax, the state’s third-largest revenue source, and it is one of the largest income transfers from one state to another in the country.
All of this just points to the need to be careful when citing state rankings.
Some, such as the Tax Foundation’s, only obscure real facts because they allow politicians to cherry-pick data and use them to justify their political philosophy.
So the next time you hear someone say New Jersey is the most overtaxed state in the nation, look past the rhetoric and consider the real numbers behind the statement.

Check out the tax data tables here.

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Filed under corporate taxes, Debrorah Howlett, income taxes, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, property taxes, sales tax, tax burden

>A Comment Worthy Enough For Front Page Posting

>I received the following blog comment from reader Judy Repic, who was responding to my March 11th post Doesn’t Anyone Remember Christine Whitman? . I thought that it was a worthwhile comment that should be shared with everyone, so I’ve posted it below:

My question in all of this pension discussion is did either Florio or Whitman take just the portion that the state provided,or did they include the payments made by employees also? Governor Christie was a member of Morris County freeholders when this happened. His comment about “getting in the delorean and going back in time” is pretty cavalier when he was an elected official at the time.

Also, why should any man or woman who have to wear a protective vest have to conceed to giving up anything? Every day active members of PFRS kiss their spouse and family members good by, and that family member has to wonder for 8 hours if they will be welcoming them home or planning a funeral. These State Employees should never have to conceed to anything.

But,hisotically, politicians know how to push the buttons of the general public by accusing state workers of being overpaid for underperformance. The politicians can rile up the hard working general public into a frenzy by saying their world would be better if “x” changes are made. Attacking state workers pay is normally the “x” they use. However, the civil service test is open to everyone, it does not discrimate on any level, so in reality, every citizen in the state of New Jersey has the potential to become a state employee based on a test score.

How about the Governor, Assembly, and Senate start cutting some of their aids, secretaries, close down redundant posititions in Trenton. How about they post the pay of career Trenton employees with that of Police,Fire, Rescue and Corrections Officers who when 911 is dialed show up to aid you.

I am sick of all state employees being considered as lazy and over paid.

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Filed under blog, Gov. Christie Whitman, Middletown Mike, New Jersey, public unions, reader comments, state employees, worker benefits

>Survey Confirms that New Jersey is a Solar Power; Two Garden State utilities finish in the top 10 nationwide when it comes to adding solar capacity

>If you are a proponent of green and clean energy and think that solar energy is the best way to go, then the following article posted on NJspotlight will be of great interest to you. Our great state of New Jersey is among the leaders of the nation when it comes to installing solar panels that generate electrical power for both the general public, individuals and industry.

561 megawatts of electricity were added last year through solar panels around the state, which represents a 300% increase over what was reported in 2009.

The road forward in solar energy production may be changing in the near future however, if proposed changes by the Christie administration move forward.

In another indication of the fast-paced growth of New Jersey’s solar market, two of the state’s four electric utilities ranked in the top 10 nationally in adding solar power in the past year, according to a new survey.

Newark Schools Partner with PSE&G to Create Green Curriculum

Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) and Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) ranked third and ninth, respectively, in the amount of solar capacity added in 2010 according to a survey by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). Atlantic City Electric, ranked 12th in new solar capacity, but broke into the top 10 at ninth in solar watts per customer, which is a measure of the utility’s new solar capacity divided by number of customers. PSE&G finished second in that category.

The annual survey, the fourth one done by the association, reflects the growing trend of utilities to incorporate solar power into their energy portfolios. All told, the nation’s utilities integrated 561 megawatts of solar electricity into their deliveries, a 100 percent increase over the previous year, the association said.

Christie’s Changes
The findings come at a time when Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday recommended sweeping changes in New Jersey’s solar program, which is second to only California’s in the number of systems that have been installed. The Governor’s overhauled Energy Master Plan recommends steering most of the state’s efforts in developing solar away from residential installations to commercial and industrial applications, where, it argues, the state will get a bigger bang for its buck.

It is unclear how the changes will affect the electric utilities in the state, all of whom have programs geared to encouraging residential solar installations. But Al Matos, a vice president for PSE&G, said the utility will tailor its program to conform to the new recommendations….

Continue reading …. Here

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Filed under Christie Administration, Gov. Chris Christie, megawatts of power, New Jersey, NJspotlight, PSEG, solar energy

>NJPP – Special budget update: Take two

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You might have seen media coverage of the Rev. Jesse Jackson in New Jersey the other day. He talked to reporters in the hot sun on the steps of Citigroup building in Jersey City about the need to invest in schools, cities and people – not throw tax breaks at financial institutions which are just hoarding capital in this lousy economy.

I was struck standing there with him not just by how important it was to have someone of Jackson’s stature here in New Jersey delivering a message about help for working people, but how great it was that he was delivering the Better Choices budget coalition message.

You see, sometimes, the work we do at NJPP that matters most is behind the scenes – work we get the opportunity to do because years of credible research and strategic messaging have put us in a position to influence events.

This week is a great example.

Before Reverend Jackson went before the media I briefed him at the request of our coalition partners on a paper analyst Sarah Stecker and I wrote that identified $1 billion in tax subsidies that the state has awarded to corporations the past 16 months. That work is at the core of the Better Choices push for investment in services that lift up all New Jerseyans rather than providing tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy.

Jackson is an icon of the civil rights era and one of the strongest voices fighting poverty in America. He was in New Jersey for a series of labor rallies, as well as news conference on behalf of Better Choices to talk about the surge in corporate taxpayer subsidies here in New Jersey. At our table in the Westin Newport, I outlined our research that showed 70 major corporations have been awarded a total of more than $1 billion in taxpayer subsidies on the promise to create jobs.

Citigroup is a prime example. The bank received $87 million in subsidies since 2004. The expectation was that the financial giant would justify the subsidy by hiring 3,750 people. (Citi is still 1,000 jobs shy, by its own count). The latest Citigroup subsidy was approved in March – $12.3 million to bring 400 jobs from New York State to Jersey City. Three weeks after it was awarded the subsidy, Citigroup announced it was laying off nearly 300 workers at one of its New Jersey sites. Not a very good deal for New Jersey taxpayers, as it turned out.

Jackson, over a bowl of Raisin Bran, grinned and turned the analysis into a newsworthy sound-bite: “They got the money, we didn’t get the jobs. … We should be investing in people, not corporations.”

I was delighted to play my small role in Jackson’s visit to New Jersey. And even if I can’t resist the temptation to do a little name-dropping, more importantly I hope sharing this anecdote helps illustrate to you the important work we do here at New Jersey Policy Perspective.

More to come…

Deborah Howlett, President

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Filed under Citigroup, civil-rights movement, corporate tax breaks, Debrorah Howlett, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ State Budget, Rev. Jesse Jackson, update

>Gov. Christie’s Chopper Ride

>Lawrence O’Donnell, on last nights episode of The Last Word blasted Governor Christie for using a New Jersey State Police helicopter to take him to his son’s high school baseball game then back down to the governor’s mansion to meet with GOP recruiter’s from Iowa that tried to persuade he to enter the 2012 Presidential sweepstakes.

Watch the video:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, helicopter ride, Iowa, Lawrence O'Donnell, New Jersey, Republican Candidates, taxpayer expense, The Last Word

>NY Times: Gov. Christie Abandons a Good Idea

>The following editorial was published yesterday in the NY Times, people should read it before falling for his claim to be an advocate for the environment:

Running for governor in 2009, Chris Christie vowed to become “New Jersey’s No. 1 clean-energy advocate.” That was a hollow promise. As governor, Mr. Christie proceeded to cut all the money for the Office of Climate and Energy. He raided $158 million from the clean energy fund, meant for alternative energy investments, and spent it on general programs. He withdrew the state from an important lawsuit against electric utilities to reduce emissions.

On Thursday, he took the worst step of all: He abandoned the 10-state initiative in the Northeast that uses a cap-and-trade system to lower carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants. The program has been remarkably successful, a model of vision and fortitude. Lacking that, Mr. Christie has given in to the corporate and Tea Party interests that revile all forms of cap and trade, letting down the other nine states trying to fight climate change.

The system works by requiring utilities to either lower their emissions or buy allowances to pollute. Money from the allowances goes to states for clean-energy programs. Since it began in 2008, the system has created more than $700 million for these programs; New Jersey has spent some of its share on helping cities become more energy-efficient. Greenhouse emissions from power plants in the region went down about 12 percent from 2008 to 2010 for many reasons, including lower natural gas prices. Programs like the regional initiative are estimated to have produced more than 10 percent of that decline.

Mr. Christie has already demonstrated his disdain for the program’s goals by spending $65 million of the state’s $100 million share from the allowances to pay down New Jersey’s deficit. He claimed this week that the program was not working, a notion that was quickly refuted by five other governors. “Governor Christie is simply wrong when he claims that these efforts are a failure,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland. He said they had an equivalent effect of taking 3,500 cars off the road in his state.

For now, at least, the far right has killed cap and trade nationally, but the idea is far from dead. Several Western states are gearing up for a cap-and-trade program; California has been particularly aggressive. The Northeast state compact will survive Mr. Christie’s exit. It is New Jersey that will be the poorer, with less to invest in smarter energy programs, more carbon dioxide and a leadership vacancy at its helm.

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Filed under cap and trade, carbon dioxide emissions, clean energy, editorial, Gov. Chris Christie, greenhouse gasses, New Jersey, NY Times, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

>As A Matter Of Fact…New Jersey revenue projections

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May 17th, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

New Jersey Policy Perspective president Deborah Howlett made the following statement about revenue projections presented today to the Assembly Budget Committee by the Office of Legislative Services:

While it’s great to hear that New Jersey tax revenues seem to have bottomed out and are beginning to climb, the state remains stuck in a very deep hole.

The Office of Legislative Services projects that revenues will approach $29.9 billion next year, an increase of $1.17billion over its current year estimates. However, even with that growth, the state’s revenue collections would still be $3.4 billion less than was collected in FY2008, the year prior to the recession. Almost all of the increase is driven by higher income tax collections fueled by the rebound on Wall Street. Revenues from sales, corporate business and other taxes are still below estimates.

The state must choose to invest these revenues wisely, using the money to restore the devastating cuts made to services and to pay into the state pension system. The money should not be used, as the governor suggested was his goal during his budget address in February, to fuel $2.5 billion in corporate tax breaks over the next five years. He’s already used $1 billion in future tax revenues to subsidize corporations and business since taking office. Those efforts have contributed to the state’s lackluster corporate tax revenue collections and have failed to create quality jobs. It’s time to abandon old, tired trickle down economic theory and embrace the reality that creating a strong, vibrant economy and attracting good, solid middle class jobs requires great schools, safe streets and the high quality of living New Jersey attained before the recession.

While the increase in revenue is welcome news, New Jersey still has far to go before it is made whole again.

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Filed under corporate tax breaks, Gov. Chris Christie, Millionaire'sTax, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, State budget, tax revenues, tax subsidies