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Assembly Panel Approves StayNJ Property Tax Relief Program, Additional Affordability Measures for NJ Seniors

Stakeholders Applaud Proposal, Voice Support for Measures to Alleviate Property Taxes and Medical Costs for Senior Residents

(TRENTON) – The Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee today advanced a package of legislation that will build on Assembly Democrats’ work to make New Jersey more affordable for senior residents. Together, the measures aim to cut property taxes in half for most seniors (A1) and significantly expand assistance for medical benefits such as health insurance and prescription drugs (A2 and A3). Today’s committee meeting was the first step for the senior affordability package to be included in the Fiscal Year 2024 State Budget.

Legislators, local officials, and stakeholders representing the interests of New Jersey’s senior residents spoke in support of the senior affordability package at the Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee meeting:

“In addition to the critical property tax relief StayNJ will offer, I am also proposing an overall senior affordability package to help our income-limited seniors afford the most basic of necessities—healthcare. A2 and A3 will help nearly 200,000 seniors afford their doctors’ visits and their prescription medication. No senior should ever have to forego their medication due to cost, and no senior should have to make the decision between their rent and their medication,” said Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin (D-Middlesex), sponsor of the proposal. “As we negotiate the final tenets of the proposed FY24 State Budget, I am encouraged to see that we all agree more property tax relief is needed for seniors. I look forward to working with the Governor, Senate President and our colleagues as we take the next step to making StayNJ a reality.”

“Many seniors rely on their prescription drugs but need a little help paying for their medication. No senior should be forced to decide between purchasing medications, paying their taxes or buying food. Yet, we know those difficult decisions are being made in our state every single day,” said Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee Chairwoman Angela McKnight (D-Hudson). “We all have heard stories from our state’s seniors about how they have struggled financially. I know firsthand how many seniors are struggling to stay in New Jersey. Recently, a married couple who met and lived in Jersey City for over 65 years had to sell their home and move to another state. They could no longer afford their property taxes. Together, these bills will make New Jersey more affordable for our seniors. By lowering these costs, seniors who call New Jersey home will be able to stay in New Jersey.”

“We believe StayNJ is really important for our State and our seniors,” said Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester) who also sponsors the package. “I’m excited about it; I think it’s something that seniors have been really hoping for so that they can stay in their homes. We know people have had to scrimp and save just to pay those tax bills. People are coming up to me saying this will allow us to stay in their homes.”

“Our retired residents, many of whom are on fixed incomes, should not be burdened with the worry of rising property taxes and the possibility of having to move out of state with a lower cost of living. This bill would strengthen our communities for generations to come. it would help keep families together. This bill would give our seniors an extended, vested interest in the future of the towns where they currently reside knowing they’ll have a financially feasible future in our great state of New Jersey,” said Monroe Township Mayor Stephen Dalina. “It is why I am here today voicing support for Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin’s initiative to effectively cut property taxes in half for most of our New Jersey senior citizens. Monroe Township residents ages 65 and over should not have to sell their homes and leave town because they can’t afford the property taxes here in this state.”

“My mom is older, and she has been paying for the school system for over 60 years. She is trying to stay in town. I want her to stay in town but the only way to do that is to make NJ more affordable,” said Marlboro Township Mayor Jon Hornik. “When property taxes go up, it really impacts seniors. We have to fix this problem for our seniors. We have to keep them here. I one hundred percent support these bills. We need to make the state affordable so these seniors can stay.”

“Every year millions of financially vulnerable older adults across the country struggle to pay their out-of-pocket Medicare premiums, deductibles, and other costs. As a share of household expenses, Medicare households spend more than double that of non-Medicare households on their healthcare needs. Those who cannot afford supplemental coverage face bankruptcy from high medical bills because Medicare has no upper limit on cost sharing,” said Evelyn Liebman, AARP NJ Director of Advocacy. “Under A2, it is estimated Medicare Savings would be available to an additional 163,000 seniors, improving their access to affordable health coverage, ability to stay healthy, and peace of mind.”

“On behalf of NJEA’s nearly 200,000 members, I am pleased to offer our support of A1 as a bold approach to address a major challenge for our senior homeowners, 65 years and plus, who are faced with property tax bills that often force them to leave their homes, the state, and cause real disruption to the quality and safety of their lives,” said Deborah Cornavaca, NJEA Director of Government Relations – Politics and Policy.