The gloves are off.
Chris Christie may be more popular than ever, but the Republican isn’t taking any chances with seeking re-election in a majority Democrat state.
Witness a new TV ad released Monday by his re-election campaign, Christie for Governor. The ad starts off with pictures of Christie’s Democratic challenger, state Sen. Barbara Buono, as a narrator introduces her as former Gov. Jon Corzine’s budget chair. Buono chaired the Senate’s Budget and Appropriations Committee for two years during Corzine’s tenure.
"Buono voted 154 times to raise our taxes -- like the sales tax, the income tax, health care taxes, even small business taxes," the narrator states as text in the commercial states she voted to raise taxes and fees.
This ad is a variation on a theme mentioned previously by Christie, and it’s also right on target.
First, some background about tax increases.
During his State of the State address earlier this year Christie noted that New Jersey saw more than 100 increases in taxes and fees in the eight years before he became governor, which is similar to the new TV ad about Buono, the Democratic challenger in the November gubernatorial race.
In addition, state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield) made a similar claim in an Oct. 7, 2011 news release when he tied 115 votes for tax increases to jobs leaving New Jersey. Kean’s claim was rated Half True.
For both previous fact-checks, Republicans provided us with a list that included tax and fee hikes as well as tax policy changes that occurred between fiscal years 2003 and 2010.
Now let’s review the 154 increases.
The Christie for Governor camp provided us with a list of the 154 increases they claim Buono supported both in the Senate and when she served in the Assembly. We reviewed each vote and found that the list given us mirrors the previous Republican-provided lists, plus additional votes.
Although Democrats sponsored most of the bills in question, a few had Republican support.
Democrats held legislative majorities in the eight years before Christie became governor. His predecessors during that time were Jim McGreevey, Richard Codey and Corzine.
Among the increases were raising the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent and applying the tax to services such as tanning and limousine rides; increases in the cigarette tax; and allowing towns to impose parking taxes and surcharges. Also, the state twice increased the gross income tax on New Jerseyans with six-figure incomes: in 2004 for those with income exceeding $500,000 and again in 2009 for those incomes above $400,000.
In addition to tax increases were hikes in dozens of fees, such as a new $1.50 fee on the sale of new vehicle tires; imposing fees on certain realty transfers; on hotel/motel occupancies; increases in the minimum casino hotel parking charge; and raising the fee to file for divorce.
Overall, the lists provided by Republicans showed that there were dozens of increases in taxes or fees or other tax policy changes that could result in individuals or businesses paying higher taxes. We calculated the votes and confirmed that Buono did vote 154 times in favor of higher taxes and fees.
After we shared the list with Buono for Governor spokesman David Turner, we received a list back pointing out cuts that Christie has made to various tax credit rebates and programs; legislation the governor signed resulting in assessments on ambulatory care facilities and insurers; and other legislation signed by Christie allowing government authorities to charge fees.
"Barbara Buono has spent her life in public service fighting for New Jersey's middle class and working people," Turner said in an e-mail. "Throughout her career she has pushed to make large corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share and reduce the tax burden on New Jersey's working families. And she has consistently voted to hold lawbreakers accountable—if Governor Christie believes it was wrong to stiffen penalties for deadbeat dads, impose tougher fines on tax cheats and force polluters to help pay for damaging our environment and threatening public health, he should say so."
Christie for Governor spokesman Kevin Roberts declined comment.
A Christie for Governor TV ad claims, "Buono voted 154 times to raise our taxes -- like the sales tax, the income tax, health care taxes, even small business taxes."
Although a narrator only mentions tax increases, scrolling text in the ad also mentions fee increases.
And in this case, the ad is accurate: Buono did vote on 154 bills that would increase fees and taxes on things ranging from the purchase of new vehicle tires to those New Jerseyans earning six-figure incomes exceeding $400,000.
We rate the claim True.
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