After Governor Chris Christie delivered his State of the State address Tuesday, members of the Democratic party held a press conference to offer their opinions on what the governor said.
Democratic leaders said they disagree with Christie’s proposal for a 10 percent income tax cut across the board because it would greatly benefit the wealthy while offering very little relief to the poor and middle class. They also discussed Christie’s discussion of education reform, pointing out that he has cut programs and financial aid in the past and that the proposed income tax cut would also drain educational funds.
However, Democrats said they agree with Christie’s proposal to provide mandatory drug treatment to non-violent offenders instead of prison time.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney said that Christie gave a “good speech,” but said it lacked substance. He said the income tax cut would effectively be done at the expense of schools in the state since many tax dollars fund education. He also said that legislators had to stop giving breaks to multi-millionaires and start looking out for the middle class and poor.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver pointed out the discrepancies with a 10 percent income tax cut. She explained that a person making $50,000 annually would see a savings of $80.50 per year while someone making $1 million annually would realize $7,265 per year. She said she was worried that taking so much money out of the income stream, which she estimated at $1 billion, in New Jersey would have severe consequences, pointing out that one of the reasons for the state’s current fiscal problems is the 30 percent income tax cut that came during Christine Todd Whitman’s administration.
Sen. Loretta Weinberg spoke about education reform, saying a well-run preschool program is critical to help children throughout the state and especially in cities like Camden, Newark and Trenton. She pointed out that at one time, Christie cut money to preschool programs and referred to it as babysitting. An income tax cut could take money away from such programs, she said.
Assemblyman Louis Greenwald said New Jersey’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average and the surrounding states, even though Christie said the unemployment rate is declining in his State of the State address. Greenwald said the focus of those in government should be to help ease the economic burden for residents and cut property taxes by 10 percent instead of income taxes. “That’s what’s destroying the state,” he said.