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New Jersey Senate President wants legislators to have last say on capping property taxes

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June 21, 2010

Senate President Stephen Sweeney

By Kyle Maichle

TRENTON, New Jersey: The "Cap 2.5" Amendment was dealt a roadblock on June 19, 2010, when New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney announced a similar plan in which he feels that it will gain approval by legislators[1].

Sweeney is calling for a property tax cap of 2.9 percent in which would be lower from the four percent cap legislative Democrats passed in 2007. However, the proposed cap would be a statutory law instead of a amendment to the New Jersey Constitution. The reason for a statutory cap is to allow local governments to have exemptions when there are increases in health care and other operating costs. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver told to reporters that she would allow immediate consideration of the bill[1].

However, the statutory cap was not well received by Governor Chris Christie's office. Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the Governor said: "the professional politicians of Trenton have had decades to make statutory fixes that work, and they have failed." Drewniak further stated: "it is time that the voters, the taxpayers of New Jersey, make these decisions." Legislative Republicans are pusing to strip the legislature of its power to increase property taxes citing that the Legislature in the past has overridden its own constraints on spending[1].

Despite the concerns that Senator Sweeney presented about a constitutional cap on property tax increases, over 200 Mayors in New Jersey have endorsed the "Cap 2.5" Amendment proposed by Governor Christie. The deadline for qualifying the amendment to the ballot is in August[1].

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