Sun Editorial: Increasing income taxes to pay for shortfalls is not the answer

THESUN

There’s no doubt that New Jersey needs a financial fine-tuning, to say the least. Our state is in debt, its credit rating has been downgraded several times in Gov. Christie’s tenure in Trenton and the Transportation Trust Fund is in crisis mode.

There’s no doubt that an easy fix is out of reach, unless we band together as a state, win the Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries back to back, and then donate all that money to our state government. Even then, we might come up short of what we need.

There’s little doubt that in some way, somehow, the residents of New Jersey are going to have to pitch in financially to help fix the problem. What form that “fix” is –well, that’s anyone’s guess at this point. But one thing we particularly don’t agree with is forcing an increase in any part of income taxes as a solution.

Earlier this month, Christie ended New Jersey’s reciprocal agreement with Pennsylvania that allowed residents who worked on the other side of the river to pay taxes where they live instead of where they work.

Some estimates say New Jersey could earn an additional $180 million in revenue from Pennsylvania residents who work here, but it will also be quite the hit to most of our residents who work over there.

The Senate Majority Office estimates that the 100,000 Jersey residents who earn less than $110,000 per year working in Pennsylvania will pay about $1,000 more per year in income taxes. One could argue that the $180 million in revenue New Jersey will gain far exceeds the $100 million total some will lose is worth it.

But is it really fair that these specific 100,000 residents bear the brunt of that trade-off? It doesn’t seem so to us.

We recognize that something creative does need to be done to fix New Jersey’s atrocious financial health. Our credit rating needs to improve, and the TTF needs to be replenished so our road projects can resume.

But relying on income tax increases, of any sort, is not the right answer. We would much prefer a boost in consumption taxes, such as the proposed hike in gasoline tax.