Layla Brooks and Lewis Stahl
Bay City, Mich. and Brooklyn, N.Y.
New Jersey faces the issue of high taxes for homeowners, and Republican gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli has a plan to lower them.
Ciattarelli, a former state assemblyman and small business owner, wants to lower taxes through a thorough revision of the school funding formula. He would also redefine “local fair share,” motivating towns and districts to regionalize, end home improvement-based property tax raises, and—regardless of the homeowner’s income or length of residency—freeze property taxes when a homeowner turns 65.
“The property taxes are sky- high,” said Stami Williams, Ciattarelli’s communications director. Of the current structure, she said, “Everybody is suffering from it, and it doesn’t matter what part of the state [or] who you are.”
According to a report this year by WalletHub, property taxes in New Jersey are the highest in the nation, with an effective real estate tax rate at 2.47 percent. (Property taxes are collected locally in New Jersey, so each county’s tax rate differs.)
According to Ciattarelli’s campaign website, “New Jersey can and should be a place where our residents can afford to live and work for generations. As Governor, I will lower your property taxes through comprehensive re-form of our broken school funding formula – a system where 60 percent of state aid goes to just 5 percent of the districts is unsustainable.” This plan has racked up statewide sup-port because school funding among districts remains disproportionate. New Jersey has many similar, small districts, “some rich and some poor, with persistent tax capacity and funding disparities between them,” according to a report for the New jersey Policy Perspective, a nonpartisan think tank.
Asked how Ciattarelli’s team plans to accomplish this goal without compromising the education of at-risk students, Williams said, “a lot of what [Ciattarelli] is trying to do is rebuild the school funding formula because there is a lot of disparity between where people live, what they’re pay-ing, and the cost for each student.”