By Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande
What do Florida, New Hampshire and Washington state have in common?
They’re among nine states that not only weathered the worst economic recession of our generation, but found ways to make their economies stronger, attract new people and create jobs when the rest of the nation floundered.
From 2001 to 2010, these nine states saw employment increase by 5.4 percent when the rest of the country remained stagnant.
What do these states have in common that allows them to grow jobs during horrific economic times?
No income tax.
In New Jersey, we’re on our way to replicating the job-creating economic successes of these “prime nine” states, even though we’re still among the “maligned nine” states with the highest income taxes.
The tax-free states grew employment by 5.4 percent, while tax-heavy states saw jobs decline by 1.7 percent.
That’s why Gov. Christie is proposing to cut income taxes for everyone. It will keep money in people’s pockets and help bring back the jobs that disappeared last decade as Trenton taxed and spent the state into economic ruin.
The Wall Street Journal recently called legislative proposals in other states to cut the income tax good “long-term growth” and attempts to use additional income tax revenue to relieve property taxes “short-term politics.”
It’s not even good short-term politics. Remember what happened to Jon Corzine in 2009 when he raised income taxes? He was one of nearly 120,000 New Jerseyans who lost a job that year.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, who knew something about emerging from horrific economic times, once said: “Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t, do something else.”
New Jersey has repeatedly tried raising taxes to relieve property taxes. It has never worked. In fact, the income tax itself began as a way to reduce property taxes. Do you know anyone whose property taxes went down since 1976?
New Jersey lost an entire decade (and 156,000 jobs) proving you can’t lower one tax by raising another. Taxes increased by $11 billion from 2002 to 2009, and nearly every time they increased a tax, Trenton politicians promised it would relieve property taxes, yet the property tax burden increased 6 percent per year and 60 percent cumulatively from 2002 to 2010.
Remember when Trenton politicians shut down the state to raise the sales tax in 2006 to offer “historic” levels of property tax relief? It didn’t work. The higher sales tax remains, but the property tax relief was history after just one year.
We need to stop doing what doesn’t work. That’s why we ended those failed tactics and launched the most aggressive and effective assault on property taxes in New Jersey history.
We put a tight cap on property taxes, saved property taxpayers $120 billion over the next 30 years through pension and health care reform, and we are working to do more, such as ending the payout for workers’ unused sick and vacation time and allowing towns to save money by opting out of Civil Service.
Our comprehensive approach to tax reform has businesses and homeowners optimistic about our state’s future for the first time in several years.
If we continue to do what has been working, we will continue to create more private-sector jobs in addition to the 60,000 that have been added in the past two years.
Adding jobs won’t just improve our unemployment rate, but likely will achieve precisely what short-sighted critics of Gov. Chris Christie’s income tax cut say it won’t: property tax relief.
Raising other taxes has not lowered property taxes, but reducing the income tax may because it will keep forcing government to spend within its means while encouraging businesses to create jobs in New Jersey.
More businesses and jobs in our economy means a greater share of the tax burden is shifted away from property taxpayers.
Many other states have seen the wisdom of low income tax rates. They know that reducing the income tax burden creates jobs and builds a strong economic foundation. I’m eager to see New Jersey follow suit.
In the last two years, New Jersey has added more than 62,000 private-sector jobs. And our Economic Outlook Rank has improved from 48th to 45th this year, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Our plan to make New Jersey affordable and create jobs is working. We can’t stop doing what is working. We need to do more.