Assembly Republican Budget Officer Joseph Malone had a simple question for state Treasurer David Rousseau during the April 7th hearing on Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s budget: “Do you feel New Jerseyans are overtaxed?”
Rousseau paused nearly five seconds before answering “No.” That answer seems to sum up how Corzine’s administration views taxpayers and that it doesn’t understand just how badly New Jersey’s middle class has been harmed by its incessantly increasing taxes.
New Jersey has the highest property taxes and one of the highest income tax and sales tax rates in the nation. A recent study has also determined that New Jersey has the worst business climate in the country.
But Corzine’s treasurer told the Assembly Budget Committee that New Jersey’s income tax, sales tax and business taxes really aren’t all that bad.
“I think there is concern about the over-all level of taxation in this state,” Rousseau conjectured.
“Are property taxes higher in this state than anywhere else in the country? Yes. This is the major problem facing this state.”
However, his perspective on other taxes was quite different.
“Our income tax rates for working class families and middle and moderate income families are lower than the rest of the state,” Rousseau said.
Since the sales tax rate is lower in Urban Enterprise zones, Rousseau opined that “our overall 7 percent rate really isn’t an overall 7 percent rate.”
What about those pesky business taxes?
“For the percentage of taxes paid by the business community on the state level we are relatively at the national average, and on the local level businesses actually pay a lower percent of the taxes that they do in the other states because, unlike other states, as I said, we don’t have a local tax option. We don’t have local taxes that businesses pay, and also because we do not classify property, businesses aren’t treated differently on the property tax.” Got it?
The following day, Corzine tried to put some distance between him and his treasurer, saying “I wouldn’t have answered the question that way.”