Mayor’s Message: Tax reform

Mayor Louis Manzo discusses tax reform in N.J. following Gov. Murphy’s State of the State address

As the temperatures remind us that it’s January, this week I’ll continue to ring the bell about the need for true tax reform in our state. That should warm you up a bit, if not infuriate you.

In recent issues of my Mayor’s Message, I have tried to emphasize the probability of substantial action on this topic being taken in Trenton this year. However, I know that statements from “politicians” often fall on deaf ears. By the way, I despise the “politician” label, though I understand being lopped into the category; I prefer being thought of as a “public servant” and that’s exactly what we consider ourselves on Township Committee in Harrison. Regardless, my guess is that some of you have heard my message and some haven’t.

You need to look no further than the governor’s State of the State address on Jan. 15 to understand the playing field on which these important tax reform issues (and others) will be debated. We have a Democrat governor who is clearly not aligned with the Democrat leadership in Trenton, who control both houses of the State Legislature. In watching the governor’s speech and, more importantly, the Senate President’s and Assembly Speaker’s immediate response, there is clearly no consensus on how to address the looming fiscal crisis.

Personally, I find this alarming.

We’ve come to expect glaringly opposing views of the world from leaders of different political parties. But Gov. Phil Murphy, Steve Sweeney and Craig Coughlin (Governor, Senate President and Speaker, respectively) are from the same political party. The Republican leaders in the State Senate and Assembly, Tom Kean and Jon Bramnick, responded to the governor’s speech as we would expect. They felt he offered no solutions and noted that he did not say whether he intended to seek a tax increase.

The time has come for all involved to compromise; The answer never lies at either end of the political spectrum on a particular topic. Elected officials should seek reasonable solutions that move things in a positive direction. Unfortunately, this feels like a recipe for continued gridlock.

So where does that leave us, the residents and taxpayers of New Jersey? The governor will present his budget in the coming weeks. During this same period, the legislature is receiving feedback on the Path to Progress Report, which can be viewed at www.PathToProgressNJ.org.

I’ve asked you to email our 5th Legislative District representatives, and simply ask them to “take action.” Sweeney is holding a local town hall to give you the opportunity to address him directly on this report. It will be held at Rowan College at Gloucester County’s Nursing & Allied Health Center (1400 Tanyard Rd., Sewell) on Jan. 24 at 6:30 p.m. I will be there.

This is a critical time for our state’s future and we need our leaders in Trenton to act boldly. You can help by emailing the representatives or attending the Town Hall. The louder our collective voice is, the more we empower Trenton to the bold actions needed.