05/26/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/26/2023 11:23
TRENTON, N.J. - A senior property tax relief proposal by the Democrat majority is a gimmick, not a commitment to making New Jersey more affordable for grandparents - just look at how the disabled veterans have been treated, says Assemblyman Brian Bergen.
"I have attempted to force a vote on a bill to provide disabled veterans with property tax relief three times and the majority has shot it down every time - even refusing to advance their identical bill. Why? It's because they do not care about our most vulnerable residents, they only care about votes, which explains their election-year StayNJ gimmick," Bergen (R-Morris) said.
After speaking with Democratic leaders on several occasions and putting his request in writing, Bergen felt stonewalled and on Thursday he again attempted to put his bill (A888) giving disabled veterans a property tax cut equal to their military disability rating up for a vote on the Assembly floor. However, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and the majority Leader interrupted him, shut off his microphone and ultimately blocked the vote.
"Democrats are disingenuous at best. On a session day meant to honor veterans, I, along with all of New Jersey's veterans were disrespected," Bergen, a former Apache helicopter pilot and U.S. Army captain who fought in Iraq, said.
The property tax deduction for disabled veterans has languished in the Assembly for 15 years, and as Bergen noted, was even sponsored by Coughlin.
"There is no appetite to move this bill, because they want to bribe the senior voting bloc months before we all appear on the ballot. Given that Governor Murphy doesn't have a horse in this race, StayNJ may not even materialize," Bergen added.
Coughlin is pushing the StayNJ program, which includes the property tax relief proposal aimed at people aged 65 or older. It would require a $300 million supplemental appropriation for this fiscal year and cost the state $1.2 billion by 2025. Murphy has indicated he refuses to sign the measure if it stays in its current form. Republicans have argued the plan's discretionary spending isn't real relief since it could be gone as soon as a recession happens.
"If Democrats wanted property tax relief for the people of New Jersey who are struggling the most, they would pass the disabled vet property tax deduction," Bergen said. "Under one-party rule, New Jersey taxpayers have been overtaxed and pushed into poverty. Residents deserve real structural change. Seniors and veterans deserve representatives committed to making that happen, not career politicians looking to secure their seats," Bergen said.
Poverty has increased from 9.2% to 10.2% since the Democrats have had control of state government.