New Jersey Democrats present plan to end costly state shutdown
Democrats in the New Jersey Assembly presented their own plan to end an economically crippling government shutdown, which enters its sixth day Thursday.
Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts (D-Camden) met with Governor Jon Corzine (D-NJ) Wednesday night. Roberts emerged from the hour-long meeting saying both sides made some progress. Roberts, speaking on behalf of the Democratic majority, is willing to take the idea of a 1 percent income tax increase on New Jerseyans who make more than $200,000 annually off the table. Assembly Democrats also want to boost Corzine?s proposal for a surcharge on corporate income from 2.5 percent to 4.5 percent. However, Democrats still oppose the governor?s plan to increase the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. Lawmakers argue their plan would have less impact on average families, which would pay an estimated $275 yearly under the sales tax increase.
A budget committee is working with lawmakers to hammer out an agreement, which still appears far away. The shutdown is costing New Jersey about $1.3 million in casino taxes daily. Although the casinos are privately run, the shutdown affects them because government employees monitor their finances.
Corzine brought the government to a grinding halt Saturday after lawmakers failed to pass his budget, which he argues is needed to close the state?s $4.5 billion budget gap. State Republicans blame the Democratic majority and say lawmakers have made the Garden State the butt of jokes for state legislatures across the United States.
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