Gov. Phil Murphy shot down a bill that would have allowed certain school districts to raise property taxes beyond the state’s annual limit, arguing instead that the money should come from his proposed millionaire’s tax.
Under Senate Bill 4289, districts that lost state financial aid because of changes in 2018 to the school funding formula would have been permitted to recoup those losses by exceeding the 2 percent cap.
In a Jan. 13 veto statement, Murphy criticized the measure as a “tax increase on the middle class,” and suggested that individuals making more than $1 million a year “are in a much better position to help fund our education system.”
The governor has opposed the bill since it was introduced months ago, as was expected.
“Before middle-class property taxpayers have to again take it on the chin, we should be asking our wealthiest residents to pay their fair share through a millionaire’s tax,” Murphy said Monday.
But legislative leaders oppose that idea, under which the tax rate would increase from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent on every dollar earned above $1 million.
Murphy tried unsuccessfully to convince lawmakers of the proposal merits during the 2019 and 2020 budget cycles. In 2018, he was able to enact a so-called mega-millionaire’s tax that increases the tax rate on earnings above $5 million.
“It is the height of hypocrisy for the Governor to play politics with the lives of schoolchildren by calling for passage of the millionaire’s tax when he knows — or should know — that not one penny from the millionaire’s tax could legally go to any of the Adjustment Aid districts that would have been helped by this legislation,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, and a sponsor of the property tax bill, responded in a statement.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:35 p.m. EST on Jan. 13, 2020 to add comment from Senate President Stephen Sweeney.