Unenthusiastic Democratic lawmakers plan counter budget proposal in N.J.

New Jersey’s Democratic legislative leaders are not enthusiastic about Gov. Chris Christie’s $32 billion budget plan.

The governor has called for a 10 percent income tax cut, to be phased in over three years. But Democratic lawmakers dismiss that proposal as having the biggest benefit for the wealthy.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, D-Essex, says the $70 reduction middle-class families would get in the first year of the three-year phase-in is not enough to make a difference.

“You find people in working class towns all across this state who saw $400, $500, $600 increases in their property taxes … $70 doesn’t help them,” she said.

Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said it’s not the income tax but the property tax that is a problem in New Jersey.

“It’s not the income tax that’s a problem in this state. It’s the property tax,” Sweeney said. “I don’t know anyone that’s screaming for an income tax cut, but I sure know people are crying to help property taxes.”

And Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, D-Camden, said he’s baffled by the governor’s address Tuesday in Trenton.

“This is the third budget address I’ve seen this governor do and there’s one constant. Half of it doesn’t make any sense, and I’ve got to figure out how to pay for the other half when he’s done,” Greenwald said.

The Democrats say they plan to come up with a counterproposal that will focus on property tax reduction.

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