So it comes down to this. By the end of the month, in accordance with the State Constitution, the Legislature will pass and send to the Governor the State’s Appropriations Act for the next Fiscal Year. By the end of the month, in accordance with the Constitution, the Governor will have reviewed the Act, certified the availability of revenues, signed it as is, or made whatever other line-item adjustments he sees fit and returned the bill to the Legislature to allow it to reconsider his recommendations. In order to over-ride any line-item adjustments and restore any cut funding, both Houses of the Legislature would need to muster two-thirds majorities. So, as the final hand is dealt, and just as he did at the beginning of the game, the Governor holds the strongest cards.
Of course, this isn’t really about a high stakes poker game. This is about a statement of spending priorities designed to protect and promote the legitimate interests and to maximize benefits for the people of New Jersey.
And the people of New Jersey, we need to remember, are one folk. The folk that pay the property taxes are the same folk that pay sales and income taxes. The folk that rely on vital life sustaining and life enhancing local services are the same folk that rely on State level policy priorities. And the folk that are being promised spending restraint and budgetary integrity this year are the same folk that were promised significant, sustainable property tax relief last year.
Because we continue to see our anachronistic over-reliance on regressive property taxes as New Jersey’s public policy enemy #1, we have strongly opposed the Governor’s proposed cuts of $189 million in municipal property tax relief. Because of that, we launched one of the most aggressive lobbying campaigns in League history. And because you agreed and committed yourself to this fight, that campaign just might succeed.
Our thanks to everyone involved in this campaign, from our leader, Mayor Bob Bowser of East Orange, through our other officers and Executive Board Members, through mayors and governing body members from municipalities—large and small—to key appointed officials, to citizens groups and our hard-charging League legislative staff. You have convinced a lot of the folk in the State Senate and General Assembly that, for the sake of those who elected you and who also elected them, the relief must be restored.
By the end of the month, we can measure our success. But for now, we must fight on. We have one month to fight. Don’t waste a day.
Editorial from New Jersey
Municipalities, Volume 85, Number 6, June 2008