Even before Gov. Chris Christie stepped on stage Tuesday night to deliver his keynote address at the Republican National Convention, New Jersey Democrats were criticizing the governor for exaggerating his success as the state’s chief executive.
Barbara Buono, a Senate Democrat from Middlesex County who has said she is "seriously considering" a 2013 bid for governor, took aim at Christie in an opinion column published in Politico late Monday night for making "wildly optimistic" revenue projections to prove New Jersey can afford a tax cut.
"Being honest about the numbers would undermine the ‘Endless Summer’ tour that Christie has embarked on to demand that New Jersey’s Democratic legislature approve an immediate tax cut that would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest – regardless of whether the state can afford it," Buono wrote.
Here, however, it’s Buono that’s not being forthright.
Although Christie initially proposed in January to cut income taxes 10 percent across-the-board over three years, he backed off that proposal before the start of his "Endless Summer" tour.
Christie now supports a plan based on a proposal from the Senate Democrats that would provide homeowners with an income tax credit based on their property tax bills.
Under the governor’s original plan higher income filers, who pay more in income taxes, would have benefited more than lower income filers.
But under the plan Christie now supports -- the plan he signed onto before kicking off his tour of New Jersey to blast Democrats for not approving a tax cut -- that’s not the case since some wealthy individuals would not even qualify for a tax cut.
On July 2, Christie conditionally vetoed a bill increasing the state’s top income tax rate on millionaires to enhance property tax relief payments for certain residents.
Christie suggested turning that legislation into a tax cut plan based on a proposal the Senate Democrats released earlier in the year.
Under Christie's new proposal, homeowners who earn $400,000 or less in taxable income would receive an income tax credit based on their property tax bill.
The credit would be phased in over four years, reaching 10 percent of the first $10,000 homeowners pay in property taxes. The maximum credit under the plan would be $1,000.
To support the state senator’s claim, Christina Zuk, Buono’s chief of staff, pointed to a July 26 news article that quotes Christie saying: "I'm fighting for the tax cut now because you know, businesspeople are making decisions now about whether they're going to expand next year. The Democrats say we'll get to it. We'll get to the tax cut in December or January. Well that's going to be too late for 2013. Those businesspeople are already going to be deciding where they're going to invest their money, where they're going to spend."
But Christie just says tax cut, not income tax cut. And still, he has publicly backed off his original proposal and put forth a plan based on a homeowner’s property tax burden.
It’s also worth noting that Christie’s conditional veto also recommended restoring a cut he made during his first year in office to the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, a program which benefits lower income individuals. The conditional veto increased the state credit to 25 percent of the federal credit amount, up from 20 percent.
Buono said that Christie embarked on an "Endless Summer" tour to "demand that New Jersey’s Democratic legislature approve an immediate tax cut that would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest."
Christie first proposed an across-the-board income tax cut that would have benefited higher income filers more than lower income filers.
But Christie has since backed off that plan.
Before the governor kicked off his "Endless Summer" tour, he signed on to a version of the Senate Democrats’ plan to give an income tax credit based on individuals’ property tax bills.
We rate Buono’s statement False.
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