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Legislative Republicans Get One More Chance to Side with Seniors or Millionaires

(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver and Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan on Tuesday announced the Assembly on Monday will vote to override Gov. Chris Christie’s vetoes of property tax relief for more than 600,000 New Jersey senior and disabled citizens.

The bills (A-10 and A-20) providing senior and disabled citizens with up to $1,295 in property tax relief by restoring a surcharge on 16,000 millionaires passed the Assembly and the Senate on May 20, only to be immediately vetoed by Gov. Christie. Both bills passed the Assembly 46-32. Vetoes can be overridden with 54 votes.

“Nothing is more important to Democrats than protecting our most vulnerable senior citizens who are struggling to pay their property taxes and keep their homes,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “Unfortunately, Republicans sided with millionaires over senior citizens, but it’s important to give them one more chance to correct their mistake. I’m hopeful they can show some independence from their governor and join what should be a shared value of protecting elderly New Jerseyans.”

“Gov. Christie’s heartless vetoes denied property tax relief to senior citizens struggling to make ends meet,” said Cryan (D-Union). “That was unconscionable. Gov. Christie has made clear that he stands with millionaires, but Assembly Republicans now get a second chance to right their wrong. Hopefully they will make the moral decision and break ranks with a governor who has made clear he will keep just one campaign promise – providing a tax cut for the rich.”

An analysis prepared by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services reported that under the Christie plan, a retired couple living on a fixed income of $40,000 would see a $1,320 increase in taxes while a family making $1.2 million would receive a tax cut of $11,598.

The Democratic plan to protect New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents calls for restoring a one-year income tax surcharge on the 16,000 New Jerseyans with taxable incomes of at least $1 million. The millionaire’s tax would raise $637 million and eliminate Christie’s plans to slash their property tax relief. It will also guarantee senior citizens won’t have to pay more for prescription drugs, as Christie initially proposed until Democrats insisted that plan be eliminated.

Oliver and Cryan noted that limiting the surcharge to taxable incomes of at least $1 million would shield small business owners.

“This remains a compassionate plan that allows the shared sacrifice of our most fortunate 16,000 residents to help more than 600,000 senior and disabled citizens struggling to pay for medication and keep their homes,” Oliver said. “We have made it very clear that we will work with the governor to solve our budget problems, but Democrats will not do so at the expense of elderly New Jerseyans. We hope our Republican colleagues, now that they’ve had a chance to reflect on their vote and the pain it will bring to our seniors, will feel the same way.”

Under the bill:

· Property tax rebate checks for more than 600,000 senior homeowners and tenants would be restored to last year’s levels, providing as much as $1,295 in property tax relief to senior and disabled residents.

· Christie’s initial plan to charge a new $310 deductible to 105,000 senior and disabled citizens in the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled prescription drug program and 23,000 senior citizens enrolled in the Senior Gold prescription drug program would be guaranteed to be eliminated.

· Christie’s initial plan to more than double prescription drug co-payments on those senior and disabled citizens would be guaranteed to be eliminated.

“Senior citizens living on the edge of poverty simply cannot afford such unmerciful cuts,” Cryan said. “We know that many cuts in Gov. Christie’s budget plan are painful, and spending cuts are needed. But Gov. Christie’s cuts to seniors stand out as among the worst and would devastate those on fixed incomes. It’s time for Republicans to do the right thing and send a message to Gov. Christie that this plan steers us in a more caring direction for our seniors and the disabled.”

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