New York, NY –
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed a measure that would have restored a higher income tax on the state’s wealthiest residents.
Democrats in both houses included the tax increase with votes to boost prescription drug benefits for seniors and to restore property tax rebates for the elderly and disabled. They knew Christie had promised to veto the measure, which would affect some 16,000 Garden State residents who make more than a million dollars a year.
Christie was quick to reject the package, saying higher taxes would hurt the state's recovery. Political observers say it is highly unlikely Democrats could get the necessary number of GOP members to join them for a veto override.
Camden County Assemblyman Peter Moriarty says Christie is effectively imposing his own tax, especially on the elderly and disabled, since he's rejected longstanding rebates.
“I'm not for tax hikes, but if someone's going to get a tax break this year, my feeling is that 600,000 seniors and disabled people should get the tax break, not millionaires,” Moriarty says.
In another move to close an $11 billion budget deficit, public employees in New Jersey must now pay at least 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health insurance starting Friday.
Police and firefighter unions unsuccessfully sought to block the law. They argued it's an area that should be regulated by collective bargaining instead of legislation. They also said this change amounts to an unfair tax on public employees and that the law was vague.
Public workers, teachers and others upset about changes to their benefits, pensions, and budget cuts are planning a rally in Trenton on Saturday in hopes of swaying lawmakers to reject Christie’s harsher cuts.
Story updated at 2:00 p.m.
WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.