Monday, July 19, 2010


Today, the State Senate Budget Committee began considering measures in New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's property tax-cutting mayor's tookit. Last week, Christie signed a bill capping annual property tax increases at 2%, but even he says the cap is "unworkable" without his toolkit.

If yesterday's budget hearing is any indication, it's going to be a long and tedious summer in Trenton or at least longer and more tedious than most summers in Trenton.

The first bill considered was a measure to allow gross State income tax refunds to be credited against a taxpayer's delinquent local property taxes which is already allowed in terms of property tax rebate checks.

State Senator Barbara Buono was concerned. Currently the income tax refunds can be secured for paying off late child support payments. Buono got a ruling that said the new bill would mean towns get dibs on that money before moms and dads with kids who are waiting for back child support payments.

State Senator Mike Doherty sponsors the bill. He said that is not the case and that was not his intention. Buono pushed him on the issue saying it is very important to her. She informed Doherty that he was wrong about his bill.

"My understanding is child support indebtness woulod still be the #1 priority," said Doherty.

Buono said, "That is not the case."

After several minutes of back-and-forth between Doherty and Buono, Doherty said, "The way I read it (the bill) is that child support indebtedness shall take precedence over all other indebtedness.....I really don't know where we're going here other than to try to score a political point or two."

"Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!," said sommittee chairman Paul Sarlo. As Doherty was again trying to explain that it's not his intention to change the current law, Sarlo gaveled him down yelling, "Excuse me, Senator Doherty! Nobody's trying to score a political point! These are very sensitive issues and I give you a lot of leeway on this committee."

Buono said she rarely takes things personally, but she did take exception to Doherty's comment.

As a reminder, this all happened while the panel was disussing the first bill on the agenda.

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