Says "the governor is going around the state talking about [how] we should fund an income tax cut" that benefits higher income earners and not lower income earners

John Burzichelli on Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 in an interview with NJToday

John Burzichelli says Chris Christie is promoting a tax cut plan that only benefits the wealthy

Assemblyman John Burzichelli talks with NJToday on Sept. 19.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) is a member of the budget committee, which was left without a witness last week when the state treasurer did not show up to explain some numbers.


Gov. Chris Christie said the Democrats were trying to put on a "political show" by calling the treasurer.


Burzichelli said the hearing was not theater. Rather, he said, the governor’s projections for state revenue collections, which are lagging, matter.


"Remember the governor is going around the state talking about [how] we should fund an income tax cut that will affect the higher earners in New Jersey in a higher way than it will the low earners, which will have no benefit for that," Burzichelli said in a Sept. 19 interview on NJToday.


Burzichelli then said the Legislature indicated that if Christie’s revenue projections were met, the Democrats would support some sort of tax cut.


"So as the numbers tell us they’re not materializing as he anticipated they would," Burzichelli said, "the ability to do a tax cut for the higher earners become[s] less and less likely and that’s why I think that we have to have these kind of hearings now."


Is Christie traveling the state touting a tax cut plan that only benefits wealthy residents?


The governor started a tour this summer to push for a tax cut, but Burzichelli unfairly characterizes Christie’s current plan.


In January, Christie proposed a tax cut that would have largely benefited wealthy individuals, but the governor has since embraced a new plan.


Christie’s original plan called for cutting income tax rates 10 percent across-the-board over three years. Under that proposal, residents who earn more -- and pay more in income taxes -- would have saved more, though lower income individuals would still have benefited.


But that plan is off the table. This summer Christie introduced a new proposal that excludes some of the state’s wealthiest residents.


The new plan, based on a proposal from the Senate Democrats, gives homeowners an income tax credit based on the first $10,000 of their property tax bill.


Only homeowners with $400,000 or less in taxable income could qualify for the 10 percent credit, which would be phased in over four years and reach a maximum of $1,000.


This summer, Christie, through his conditional veto power, took a bill that would have raised the top tax rate on millionaires and amended the language to turn it into his new tax cut plan.


Christie then urged the state Legislature to pass that amended legislation in a special session on July 2. They refused, saying it was prudent to wait to see whether the governor’s optimistic revenue projections were met before they committed to any tax cut.


Burzichelli acknowledged that Christie backed off the across-the-board income tax cut plan in his conditional veto, "if you take that snapshot," but he said, "I think he’s drifted back and forth a couple times."


We found no evidence to support that.


Both of Christie’s plans also would restore a cut he made in 2010 to the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, a program that benefits lower income individuals. The plans would have increased the state credit to 25 percent of the federal credit amount, up from 20 percent.


Our ruling


Burzichelli said, "the governor is going around the state talking about [how] we should fund an income tax cut" that benefits higher income earners and not lower income earners.


Christie originally proposed an across-the-board income tax cut that would have benefited wealthy individuals more than those with lower-incomes, but he has since backed off that plan.


His new proposal is based on the property tax burden of homeowners and excludes residents with incomes more than $400,000.

We rate Burzichelli’s statement False.

To comment on this ruling, go to NJ.com.