Volume 5/Issue 20

  • Gov. Christie Won't Support Increase in Gas Tax Without "Tax Fairness"
  • Senate President Sweeney Introduces Package to Improve County Government
  • Senate Democrats Fail to Override Veto of Gun Control Legislation

Gov. Christie Won't Support Increase in Gas Tax Without "Tax Fairness"

Speaking before a business trade association on Monday, Governor Christie vowed that he would only consider an increase in the gas tax if it included “tax fairness for the people of New Jersey.”

The Governor also had a warning for GOP legislators, stating that “Republicans should not be giving away any votes for an increase in the gas tax. None, zero. Unless, whatever is presented represents tax fairness for the people of New Jersey.”

Governor Christie’s remarks follow Assembly Republican Leader Jon Brammick’s recent declaration that he that he would vote for an increase in the gas tax if legislation to lower the estate and inheritance taxes was simultaneously passed by lawmakers.

The Governor expanded on the Republican mantra to reduce the estate and inheritance taxes, stating, “We lose thousands, thousands, and tens of thousands of citizens every year as they age because they say to me, what friends of my parents said to me few years ago. It's not that I can't afford to live here, I can't afford to die here.” He also lamented that the state’s sales tax was too high, especially in terms of its competitiveness against other states.

Senate President Sweeney Introduces Package to Improve County Government

Senate President Steve Sweeney announced a six-bill package last week designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of county government. The Senate President said, the bipartisan bills are the product of meetings held he had with state lawmakers and county officials over the summer.

One bill, S3019, sponsored by Senators Sweeney and O’Toole, requires municipalities that grant tax abatements to inform their county governments of such agreements. Under current law, local governments that enter into abatements are not required to provide a copy to the county, which is entitled to 5% of the annual service charge negotiated between the municipality and the developer. The new bill would require these agreements to be filed with county finance officer and counsel, giving a county the ability to determine what it is owed.

Another measure, S3169, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, would permit counties to impose a 1% hotel tax, with the revenue dedicated to tax relief. The revenue from the tax must be used to offset county spending.

A third bill. S3168, also sponsored by Sweeney and O’Toole, imposes a 2% limit on the annual increases in the portion of the budget of a certain county independent entities (e.g. boards of taxation, election boards, sheriff’s offices) that is paid for out of the county property tax levy.

Other measures focus on improving court security and placing enhanced accountability requirements on superintendents of elections.

Click here to view the Senator’s press announcement.

Senate Democrats Fail to Override Veto of Gun Control Legislation

The Senate fell short in its attempt to override the Governor’s veto of legislation requiring notification to law enforcement when a person applies to the court to have their mental health record expunged to purchase a firearm.

The bill gives law enforcement the opportunity to provide to the court information, such as pending charges, the purchaser's criminal history, or any aberrant behavior within the community that suggests they would be a danger to themselves or others.

Though it was unanimously approved by both houses and carries bipartisan sponsorship, the override failed to meet the constitutional requirement of 27 votes last week. There were 23 Democratic Senators that supported the bill, as did Republican Senators Jennifer Beck, a bill sponsor, and Senator Christopher Connors. There were 11 Republican senators who voted no.