New Jersey "Cap 2.5" Amendment (2010)

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The New Jersey "Cap 2.5" Amendment was a proposed amendment to the New Jersey Constitution that would limit local governments and school districts to cap all property tax increases to 2.5 percent without voter approval. Also, the proposed amendment would cap operational spending in the state government to 2.5%. The amendment was introduced by Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie on May 10, 2010 during a press conference with reporters[1]. The amendment did not qualify for the ballot due to a compromise agreement reached between the Governor and the Legislature on July 3, 2010, making "Cap 2.5" a statutory cap[2].

Features about the cap

Governor's proposed cap

The proposed amendment would cap all property tax increases by local governments and school districts to 2.5 percent. Any increase over 2.5 percent would go to a referendum in which the voters must decide to increase property taxes. The only exemption for local governments to avoid a referendum is for the payment of debt service. Also any tax increases that would go to a referendum would have to be approved by sixty percent of the voters. Local governments can bank any unused portion of the property tax levy for up to three years to cover any emergency shortfalls[3].

Compromise cap

In the compromise cap that was agreed by on the Governor and the Legislature, all property tax increases by school districts and local governments are limited to two percent. Any increase over two percent would go to a referendum in which the voters must decide to raise property taxes. The only exemptions under the statutory cap are for debt service payments, pension payments, increases in health insurance costs, and any expense incurred during a state of emergency[2].

Path to the ballot

In New Jersey, the state legislature must approve a proposed amendment by a supermajority vote of 60% but the same amendment can also qualify for the ballot if successive sessions of the New Jersey State Legislature approve it by a simple majority.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 104, is the official bill number for the "Cap 2.5" amendment[4].

Governor Christie called the Legislature into special session on June 29, 2010, to have the amendment approved out of committee by the July 7, 2010 deadline[5]. On July 3, 2010, both the Governor and the Democrats leading the New Jersey Legislature reached a compromise agreement that did not include a constitutional amendment[2].

Support

Supporters

  • Americans for Tax Reform. The national anti-tax group supports the amendment citing past successes involving the property tax caps passed in Massachusetts in 1980 and California in 1978[6]. Americans for Tax Reform said in support of the "Cap 2.5 Amendment": "These measures are bold, but necessary. New Jersey simply cannot continue to raise taxes to pay for frivolous overspending. Government is already too big in the Garden State, and it's refreshing to see a governor who understands the need to reverse course."[6]
  • New Jersey Business and Industry Association[7].
  • New Jersey Chamber of Commerce[7]
  • New Jersey Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses[7]
  • New Jersey Retail Merchants Association[7]
  • New Jersey Restaurant Association[7]
  • Newark Mayor Cory Booker. The Mayor of the state's largest city has expressed support for the amendment. Booker said in a June 21, 2010, press conference that the amendment presents an "historic opportunity" to local governments to rein in property taxes. Mayor Booker also said that Newark's property taxes have went up 76 percent from 2000 to 2010[8].

On May 18, 2010, 39 Mayors in five northern New Jersey counties announced their support for the "Cap 2.5" Amendment[9]. More Mayors have announced their endorsements for the amendment along the way. The endorsements for "Cap 2.5" from Mayors are as follows[10]:

  • Atlantic County: Brigantine Mayor Philip Guenther, Corbin City Mayor Carol Foster, Egg Harbor City Mayor Joseph Kuehner, Estelle Manor Mayor Joe Venezia, Folsom Mayor Thomas Ballistreri, Galloway Mayor Keith Hartman, Hamilton Mayor Roger Silva, Hammonton Mayor Stephen DiDonato, Linwood City Mayor Richard DePamphilis, Margate Mayor Michael Becker, Port Republic Mayor Gary Giberson, Somers Point Mayor John Glasser, Ventor Mayor Theresa Kelly, and Weymouth Mayor Amelia Messina.
  • Bergen County: Allendale Mayor Vince Barra, Cresskill Mayor Benedict Romeo, Elmwood Park Mayor Dick Mola, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, Franklin Lakes Mayor Maura DeNicola, Glen Rock Mayor John van Keuren, Ho-Ho-Kus Mayor Thomas Randall, Mahwah Mayor Richard Martel, Midland Park Mayor Joseph Monahan, Norwood Mayor James Barsa, Old Tappan Mayor Victor Polce, Ramsey Mayor Chris Botta, Ridgewood Mayor David Pfund, River Edge Mayor Margaret Watkins, Rochelle Park Mayor Frank Valenzuela, Rockleigh Mayor Nicholas Langella, Rutherford Mayor John Hipp, Saddle River Mayor Samuel Raia, Upper Saddle River Mayor Kenneth Gabbert, Waldwick Mayor Mayor Russell Litchult, Woodcliff Lake Mayor Joseph LaPaglia, and Wyckoff Mayor Rudy Boonstra.
  • Cape May County: Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi, Lower Mayor Michael Beck, Sea Isle City Mayor Len Desiderio, Wildwood Crest Mayor Carl Groon, and Woodbine Mayor William Pikolycky.
  • Cumberland County: Bridgeton Mayor James Begley, Commerical Township Mayor George Garrison, Deerfield Mayor Frank Spatola, and Maurice River Mayor Andrew Sarclette.
  • Essex County: Fairfield Mayor James Gasparini, Millburn Mayor Thomas McDermott, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, North Caldwell Mayor Mel Levine, South Orange Village President Douglas Newman, and West Caldwell Mayor Joseph Tempesta.
  • Gloucster County: Clayton Mayor Jeff Radio, Elk Township Mayor Phil Barbaro, Franklin Mayor Patrick Dougherty, Greenwich Mayor George Shivery, Harrison Mayor Louis Manzo, Newfield Mayor Joseph Curcio, South Harrison Mayor James McCall, and Wenonah Mayor Thomas Capaldi.
  • Hudson County: Harrison Mayor Raymond McDonough and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
  • Huterdon County: Bloomsbury Mayor Mark Peck, Clinton Township Mayor Kevin Cimei, Franklin Township Mayor Linda Jacukowicz, Glen Gardner Mayor Stanley Kovach, and Holland Mayor Edward Burdzy.
  • Mercer County: Ewing Mayor Jack Ball, Hightstown Mayor Robert Patten, Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried, and Trenton Mayor-Elect Tony Mack.
  • Middlesex County: Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz and South River Mayor Ray Eppinger.
  • Monmouth County: Atlantic Highlands Mayor Frederick Rast, Colts Neck Mayor Kenneth Florek, Englishtown Mayor Thomas Reynolds, Fair Haven Mayor Michael Halfacre, Farmingdale Mayor John Morgan, Freehold Township Mayor Dorothy Avallone, Hazlet Mayor Scott Aagre, Highlands Mayor Anna Little, Homdel Mayor Serena DiMaso, Howell Mayor Robert Walsh, Little Silver Mayor Suzanne Castleman, Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas, Matawan Mayor Paul Buccellato, Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, Neptune City Mayor Thomas Arnone, Oceanport Boro Mayor Michael Mahon, Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl, Sea Bright Mayor Maria Fernandes, Sea Girt Mayor Mark Clemmensen, Shrewsbury Mayor Terel Cooperhouse, Tinton Falls Mayor Michael Skudera, Union Beach Mayor Paul Smith, and Upper Freehold Mayor Stanley Moslowski.
  • Morris County: Boonton Town Mayor Cyril Wekilsky, Butler Mayor Joseph Heywang, Chatham Borough Mayor Nelson Vaughan, Chester Township Mayor William Cotter, Denville Mayor, Florham Park Mayor Scott Eveland, Hanover Township Mayor John Sheridan, Harding Mayor Marshall Bartlett, Jefferson Mayor Russell Felter, Kinnelon Mayor Glenn Sisco, Lincoln Park Mayor David Runfeldt, Long Hill Mayor Jerry Aroneo, Madison Mayor Mary-Anna Holden, Mendham Boro Mayor Neil Henry, Mendham Township Mayor Richard Krieg, Montville Mayor James Sandham, Morris Township Mayor H. Scott Rosenbush, Mount Olive Mayor David Scapicchio, Randolph Mayor Jay Alpert, Rockaway Township Mayor Louis Sceusi, Roxbury Mayor Jim Rilee, and Washington Township Mayor Kenneth Short.
  • Ocean County: Barnegat Mayor Jeffery Melchiondo, Barnegat Light Mayor Kirk Larson, Bay Head Mayor Bill Curtis, Beach Head Mayor Michael Battista, Beachwood Mayor Ron Jones, Brick Mayor Steven Acropolis, Harvey Cedars Mayor Jonathan Oldman, Jackson Mayor Michael Reina, Lacey Mayor Gary Quinn, Lakewood Mayor Steven Langert, Lavallette Mayor Walter LaCicero, Little Egg Harbor Mayor Ray Gormley, Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini, Manchester Mayor Michael Fressola, Mantoloking Mayor George Nebel, Ocean Gate Mayor Paul Kennedy, Ocean Township Mayor Joseph Lachawiec, Plumstead Mayor Ronald Dancer, Point Pleasant Mayor Martin Konkus, Ship Bottom Mayor Martin Konkus, Surf City Mayor Leonard Connors, Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher, Tuckerton Mayor Lewis (Lee) Eggert
  • Passiac County: Hawthorne Mayor Richard Goldberg, Little Falls Mayor Michael DeFrancisci, Pompton Falls Mayor Katie Cole, Ringwood Mayor Theodore Taukus, and Woodland Mayor Pat Lepore.
  • Salem County: Mannington Mayor Ernest Tark, Oldmans Mayor William Miller, Pittsgrove Mayor Linda DuBois, Upper Pittsgrove Mayor Jack Cimprich.
  • Somerset County: Bernards Township Mayor Scott Spitzer, Bound Brook Mayor Carey Pilato, Franklin Mayor Brian Levine, Montgomery Mayor Mark Caliguire, Rocky Hill Mayor Edward Zimmerman, Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher, Warren Mayor Victor Sordillo.
  • Union County: Berkeley Heights Mayor Robert Woodruff, Cranford Mayor Mark Smith, Hillside Mayor Joseph Menza, Kenilworth Mayor Kathi Fiamingo, Linden Mayor Richard Gerbounka, New Providence Mayor John Thoms, and Springfield Mayor Ziad Shehady.

Opposition

Opponents

  • New Jersey AFL-CIO. Charles Wowkanech who is the New Jersey State President of the AFL-CIO expressed his strong opposition for the "Cap 2.5" amendment on May 12, 2010 in an interview with New Jersey Newsroom. Wowkanech said that the proposed cap: "would hinder the ability to deliver public services, and is not realistic considering the high cost of living." The President also stated: "when taking into consideration inflation and the cost of health care alone, this amendment would effectively guarantee that workers would never get a raise and it would also decimate the collective bargaining process.[11].
  • New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). NJEA President Barbara Keshishan argued that the proposed cap: " would have a disastrous impact on the ability of districts to maintain services and programs." Also, President Keshishan promised to NJEA members that they would vigoursly oppose the "Cap 2.5" Amendment[12].

Ballot question

Here is the official ballot question as follows[13]:

Do you approve of the proposed amendment to the State Constitution prohibiting most counties and other local taxing districts from increasing their property tax levy on real property, that is not new construction or improvements, added to the tax rolls since the previous year, by more than 2.5 percent over the previous year’s tax levy, except when authorized by public referendum approved by at least 60 percent of the participating voters?

See also

External links

References