Next week's election will dictate whether NJ property taxes remain highest in nation
New Jersey is consistently the state with the highest property taxes, according to NJ Advanced Media. With the gubernatorial election set to take place on Nov. 7, many are hoping the new governor may be able to change that.
The Republican candidate is Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and the Democratic candidate is Phil Murphy.
Murphy's tax plan has been a key focus of the race. Guadagno has badgered him on it and has said that while he will raise taxes, she will cut them. But, Murphy has said the $1.3 billion increase will spare the middle class and instead hike taxes on wealthy residents, including taxes on legalized marijuana and close corporate tax loopholes, according to NJ Advanced Media.
Guadagno calls her tax plan a "circuit-breaker" — which would reduce the amount homeowners pay on the school portion of their property-tax bill to five percent of their household income. Homeowners would receive a credit of up to $3,000 for any amount above that five percent threshold, according to NJ Advanced Media.
Low education funding for grades K-12 is one of the reasons for New Jersey’s high property taxes, said Derek Roseman, a spokesman for Murphy's campaign.
“New Jersey is the most expensive housing marking and again this points to the failure of Chris Christie and Kim Guadagno, to meaningfully impact the property tax crisis in New Jersey,” Roseman said.
Just like everyone, students who rent off-campus housing are equally impacted by high property taxes.
“Rising property taxes impact everyone, whether they are a home-owner or renter because if someone’s a renter then those costs get pushed off to the renters," Roseman said. "Under (Christie), property taxes are still up 17 percent, our public schools are under-funded, our communities are under-funded, because of that property taxpayers are paying more and more to get less and less. That definitely impacts students as well.”
Slightly more than half of all property taxes collected in the state go toward education. Accordingly, New Jersey usually ranks third or fourth nationally in education, spending just under $18,000 per student and ranks in the top three in K-12 education achievement, according to news.rutgers.edu.
Murphy’s goal is to properly fund New Jersey public schools to hopefully improve the property taxes crisis.
“Property taxes affect students at a very basic level, in terms of their earliest ways of education, property taxes are the primary way that K-12 education is funded in New Jersey, unfortunately what this administration has done is underfund K-12 by more than $9 million so the first task is to properly fund our public schools and every dollar that gets returned to our public schools is a dollar which property taxpayers do not have to pay,” Roseman said.
Local governments, counties and municipalities depend largely on property taxes to pay their expenses. Municipalities in the state cannot levy local income or sales taxes, according to news.rutgers.edu.
“Property taxes are the most unkind tax because they don’t take into account whatsoever a person’s ability to pay and unfortunately under Chris Christie and Kim Guadagno the middle class and seniors have been left behind by policies that have only benefited the wealthiest and biggest corporations," Roseman said.
What Murphy wants to do is create a system where the middle-class seniors receive real property tax relief and New Jersey begins to finally move away from the policies of the last eight years, Roseman said.
“Whoever wins, I just hope they can significantly lower the property taxes,” said Hana Kim, a Rutgers Business School junior.
Kayon Amos is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in human resources. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.