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Looking to unseat Gov. Chris Christie this year, Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono has tried to portray the Republican governor as being steadfastly committed to an income tax cut that disproportionately benefits the wealthy.
But for the second time in less than five months, the truth has stood in Buono’s way.
Buono, the only Democrat to enter the gubernatorial race so far, repeated a claim about Christie’s tax cut plan during a video interview posted Jan. 13 on bluejersey.com, a left-leaning blog.
The governor’s plan "to kick-start our economy" is to propose an "income tax cut that disproportionately benefits the wealthy, and...he's still proposing it," said Buono (D-Middlesex)
Buono received a False for claiming in late August that Christie was demanding "an immediate tax cut that would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest."
By repeating a line we’ve already debunked, the senator’s latest claim is outrageously wrong.
Let’s review our findings:
Christie initially proposed in January 2012 to cut income tax rates by 10 percent across-the-board over three years. Under that proposal, higher-income taxpayers, who pay more in income taxes, would have benefited more than lower-income taxpayers.
But the governor has since backed off that plan and endorsed a proposal to cut income taxes only for New Jerseyans below a certain income level and based on their annual property tax bills.
The governor unveiled that proposal on July 2, when he conditionally vetoed a bill that would have raised the income tax rate on taxable income exceeding $1 million. Christie suggested turning that legislation into a tax cut plan based on a proposal made by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat.
Under Christie’s latest proposal, homeowners with taxable income of $400,000 or less would receive an income tax credit based on their property tax bills. The credit would be phased in over four years and ultimately reach 10 percent of the first $10,000 in property taxes paid.
The proposal would not disproportionately benefit the wealthy, since homeowners earning more than $400,000 would be ineligible and the amount of the tax credit would be based on property tax bills, not income levels.
In a news release from the governor’s office on Jan. 13 -- the same day as Buono’s interview -- the Christie administration affirmed its support for that tax cut proposal.
According to the release, Christie "has proposed a bipartisan compromise" under which "New Jersey taxpayers will be able to claim an income tax credit of up to 10 percent of their property tax bill."
To support Buono’s latest claim, her chief of staff, Christina Zuk, pointed to lines in two news articles, including this sentence from a Jan. 13 Star-Ledger story: "Christie also renewed his commitment for a 10 percent income-tax cut that he could not get last year."
But immediately following that sentence is this quote from Christie: "All those things are good, and the tax cut proposed (last year) by Senator Sweeney is good."
The second news article, published Jan. 13 on NorthJersey.com, only states that Christie "is still pushing for an income tax cut." The governor’s latest proposal is an income tax cut, but not in the way suggested by Buono.
In response to our findings, Zuk said in an e-mail: "There are numerous news reports from the past few weeks that indicate that Governor Christie has not abandoned his misguided plan for an across-the-board income tax cut, one that independent experts say would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest in our state."
In a recent interview, Buono claimed that Christie’s plan "to kick-start our economy" is to propose an "income tax cut that disproportionately benefits the wealthy, and...he's still proposing it."
But the governor has backed off such a plan and endorsed a proposal similar to one put forth by the Senate Democrats. Under that proposal, an income tax credit would be limited to taxpayers below a certain income level and based on their property tax bills.
Buono received a False for making a similar claim in August, but we obviously need to add a little sizzle to get our point across. Pants on Fire!
To comment on this ruling, go to NJ.com.
YouTube, Senator Barbara Buono, Jan. 13, 2013
Blue Jersey, Senator Barbara Buono, Jan. 13, 2013
PolitiFact New Jersey, Barbara Buono says Chris Christie embarked on a tour to demand the state Legislature approve a tax cut that disproportionately benefits the wealthiest people, Sept. 2, 2012
New Jersey Governor’s Office, Follow The Leader On Property Taxes, Jan. 13, 2013
PolitiFact New Jersey, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald claims money in state budget would provide tax break for all New Jerseyans, including millionaires, July 18, 2012
New Jersey Governor’s Office, Governor Chris Christie Calls on Legislature to Join Him and Immediately Act to Deliver Middle-Class Tax Relief, July 2, 2012
New Jersey Governor’s Office, Governor Chris Christie Calls On State Legislature To Act On Tax Relief At Special Session, July 2, 2012
New Jersey Governor’s Office, Conditional veto of Assembly Bill A-3201, July 2, 2012
The Star-Ledger, Christie pushes Legislature to support Senate Democrats' tax plan in special session, July 2, 2012
The Star-Ledger, Gov. Christie proposes 10 percent N.J. income tax reduction, Jan. 17, 2012
Tax Relief For All New Jerseyans, Jan. 17, 2012
E-mail interview with Christina Zuk, chief of staff for state Sen. Barbara Buono, Jan. 22, 2013
The following articles were cited by Zuk to support Buono’s statement:
The Star-Ledger, N.J. property taxes rise slightly in 2012; Christie pushing for lower bills, Jan. 13, 2013
NorthJersey.com, N.J. faces $2B budget shortfall, but Christie holds out hope, Jan. 13, 2013
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