AARP-NJ and LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES TO UNITE FOR PASSAGE OF PUBLIC QUESTION #1
On Monday, October 15, the New Jersey League of Municipalities and AARP-New Jersey announced the formation of a coalition urging voters to approve Public Question #1, when they go to the polls in November. Approval would amend the State Constitution to dedicate another one-half cent of the sales tax to property tax relief.
The League represents all of our State’s 566 cities, towns, townships, boroughs and villages, and AARP-NJ represents over 1.3 million of our fellow citizens.
The announcement was made at a State House press conference that also included representatives from the Voice of Consumers taxpayer advocacy group and Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr., who led legislative efforts to place the constitutional dedication question on this year’s ballot.
League President David DelVecchio, Mayor of Lambertville, said, “The constitutional dedication will require all future Governors to spend one-seventh of total sales tax proceeds for property tax relief purposes, each and every year. We want to thank Speaker Roberts and all of his colleagues, from both sides of the aisle, and from both Houses, who voted to let the people of New Jersey voice their will on the dedication.”
AARP State President Sy Larson said, “We are forging this alliance today because the need for permanent property tax relief is so important that we want to make absolutely sure this ballot question passes. The dedication of another half-penny share of the sales tax may not sound like a lot to some people, but for individuals with low or fixed incomes, property taxes cut into their food and shelter and undermine their standard of living.”
Rooney Sahai, representing the taxpayer advocacy group VoiceofConsumers.com, said, “It’s important that voters make full use of this opportunity to have a say in how their tax money gets spent. Passage of this ballot question provides an ironclad guarantee that a healthy share of sales tax revenue is permanently used to address the number one problem in this state – high property taxes.”
And Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr., said, “"Public Question #1 is the keystone for property tax relief permanency. A constitutional dedication of sales tax revenue for property tax relief ensures that property tax relief programs like this year's rebates are shielded from the short-sighted whims of future politicians.”
Citing past instances of legislatures diverting local property tax relief funds to other State priorities, Mayor DelVecchio said, “We know that there are those who support property tax relief, but who are uncomfortable with Constitutional dedication. We understand that. We only hope that they understand why municipal officials are uncomfortable WITHOUT Constitutional dedication. ¼ (W)e fully support Public Question #1. We sincerely hope that the voters seize this opportunity to advance the cause of property tax relief.”
The interpretive statement to Public Question 1 reads: “The constitutional amendment provides that an amount equal to the annual revenue derived from a tax rate of 1 percent imposed under the New Jersey Sale and Use Tax Act shall be annually dedicated in a special account in the Property Tax Relief Fund and annually appropriated for property tax reform.”
One year ago, New Jersey voters were asked to support a public question that provided for the Constitutional dedication of one-half cent of the sales tax revenue to property tax relief. We are grateful that the Legislature gave the voters that opportunity. And we are not surprised that the voters made the best of it. On November 6, Public Question #1 will give voters a new opportunity to permanently provide more money to fight higher property taxes.
While by no means a “silver bullet” to end New Jersey’s property tax nightmare, voter approval of Public Question #1 will be another strong, solid step in the right direction.