State gubernatorial candidate and current Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno touted her plan to minimize property tax increases during Opportunity New Jersey’s Affordability Summit on Monday.
Guadagno maintained in her speech that the 2 percent arbitration cap needs to stay in place in order to keep property tax hikes at a minimum, and that the property tax is the biggest problem that state residents face.
The 2 percent arbitration cap refers to the 2 percent limit on the raises that police officers and firefighters can receive once their contract disputes are taken to binding arbitration. In 2010, the arbitration cap 4 percent before being lowered by the Chris Christie administration. The 2 percent cap is directly related to property taxes because those taxes are used to pay the salaries of municipal workers. The cap is set to expire at the end of the year, when it can be either renewed or renegotiated.
Guadagno’s opponent, former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy, has stayed mum on the issue, publicly stating that he wants to study the issue before renewing it.
Guadagno said that despite historically low unemployment and an increase of 130,000 new businesses in the state over the past eight years, the biggest problem residents face is a high cost of living due to high property taxes.
New Jersey currently has the highest property tax rates in the country, according to several studies, including one from ATTOM Data Solutions. Guadagno said that the state’s property taxes affect the recruitment efforts of businesses in the state because qualified workers often go to look for work in other states with lower taxes.
“The biggest complaint I hear is that New Jersey is just too darn expensive to live in,” Guadagno told the audience. “No one can afford to live here, no one can afford to die here, everybody’s just out of here.
“My plan is really quite simple, We’re going to save, on average, $800 for those who need it most in New Jersey off of their property taxes.”
Guadagno added that without the cap in place, property taxes would go up an average of 7 percent per year.
“We know this because we’ve seen it in past years,” Guadagno said.
The state’s Police Benevolence Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and the NJ Firefighters Union all generally have opposed the arbitration cap, but Guadagno said that higher property taxes would end up costing public servants more money.
“Do the math,” she said. “More money will come out of your pockets in the long run.”