Dear Editor:

It seems politicians in Trenton are determined to drive everyone out of New Jersey. You can’t read the news without learning about some new tax out of Trenton.

Just last week, Governor Murphy signed the "rain tax" into law giving counties and municipalities the ability to impose taxes on churches, non-profits, residents, and businesses for stormwater runoff based on the size of their patios, parking lots, driveways and roofs.

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Trenton is also considering imposing a “parking tax” on top of what residents already pay to park at public and private facilities in order to fund projects to improve pedestrian access to mass transit. You mean to tell me Trenton can't find the money to improve access to mass transit in a $38.6 billion budget now? We need a new tax, really?

Let’s also not forget the proposed millionaire’s tax that will drive more wealth, businesses, and jobs out of New Jersey, leaving middle class taxpayers to pick up the tab for state spending.

Scotch Plains is being forced to pay $218,000 more to the state this year to cover the state’s pension deficit. While Scotch Plains residents are being forced to send more to Trenton, the state is cutting critical property tax relief programs like the homestead rebate and senior freeze.

According to an analysis on NJ101.5.com, 12 years ago, $1 of every $15 spent in the state budget went towards property tax relief in the form of homestead rebates. Today it represents just $1 of every $135. Benefits are 58% less today than in 2007. Income qualification limits have been lowered even while incomes rose with inflation causing more people to lose eligibility for property tax relief programs.

Overall, Scotch Plains residents have seen a 22.3% cut in tax rebates in the last 3 years and a 9% decrease in senior freeze benefits. While average property tax bills are up 29% since 2007.

So where’s the property tax relief in this year’s state budget as promised? It seems Scotch Plains makes, only for Trenton to take.

I call on Governor Phil Murphy and the State Legislature to immediately restore funding to the homestead rebate and all property tax relief programs. Scotch Plains and all state taxpayers desperately need relief. Restore rebates now!

Al Smith
Mayor of Scotch Plains