N.J. Republicans say Bridgegate can't crowd out property tax reform
Republicans in the New Jersey Assembly say they respect the investigations into the George Washington Bridge lane closures, but don't want the legislature to ignore efforts to reduce property taxes.
Almost a month into the new legislative session, Assemblyman Jay Webber says lawmakers have not taken any steps to reduce property taxes that he says remain a burden on New Jersey's businesses and homeowners.
Webber says Republicans are pushing for action on measures to end sick leave payouts for public employees.
"This is an 850 or so million dollar albatross around the necks of the taxpayers in the state. That needs to end immediately. We consider that to be the low hanging fruit that needs to be addressed immediately," he said.
They also want to stop the abuse of disability pensions and make sure a cap on what contract arbitrators can award to public workers does not expire in April.
"If you're serious about cutting property taxes in New Jersey, you have to take these three issues on in the next three months," Webber said, "and once we get through that then we have to have a serious discussion about the elephant in the room, which is the school funding formula."
A spokesman for Democratic Assembly Speaker, Vinnie Prieto, says tackling the nation's highest property taxes is a top priority.
New Jersey's notoriously high property taxes have been voters number one complaint for decades. Caps on increases in property taxes that began under former Gov. Jon Corzine and have been tightened under Gov. Christie have slowwed their growth.
This week, Christie said if he can enact his agenda, property taxes could actually decline.