Friday, April 07, 2006

Assemblyman DeCroce and the New Math

In an AP article yesterday about the Governor's visit to Burlington County for a budget discussion, Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce is quoted as saying,

"We see the anger, we hear the anger every day since Gov. Corzine issued his budget and people realize it'll cost them tens of thousands of dollars in additional taxes every year."

Tens of thousands of dollars in additional taxes every year? Wow! I have to move! Tens of thousands of dollars additional every year due to this years budget??

Or maybe DeCroce should come up with something to back that up.

Let's see now: Average household annual income in 2004 (best numbers I could find) in NJ was $56,772, second highest in the country. Our state and local tax burden was 21.1% in 2005- which by the way ranks us 14th nationwide. So, 21.1% of $56772 is... ummm, carry the one... $11987.89. These are averages, folks, your own numbers will vary. In other words, state/local taxes would have to DOUBLE for the Assemblyman to have been close to right.

Now, let's look at the budget as proposed. No increase in the income tax, increases the sales tax by 1 percentage point, and a water tax of 4 cents on the thousand. You must be using a whole lot of water and buying a lot for that to add up to tens of thousands!! For the increase in sales tax to add up to a mere $5,000, you'd have to spend half a million dollars a year on taxable goods. Good luck with that on your average $56,772 family income.

Let's throw in the increases in cigarette tax-affects maybe 21% of residents- and liquor taxes- maybe 58% of us, best guess, really- but you'll still be crazy to say this adds up to tens of thousand dollars in extra taxes a year for a taxpaying family in Our Fair State. (If the increase on cigarette taxes or alcohol taxes means tens of thousand of dollars out of your pocket, you've got bigger problems than finances. But I digress.)

Even if property taxes increased substantially as a result of flat state aid, we wouldn't come close to ten thousand. Average property taxes in Our Fair State were $5867 last year, according to a January Star-Ledger article. To increase only $5000- not even ten thousand!- they'd have to increase 85%; to put that in perspective, property taxes went up 29% in the four years 2002-2006. There are a few other sales taxes, such as on tanning or limo service, but these aren't going to come close to $10k.

In his budget address, Gov. Corzine said:"Reluctantly, I am forced to seek net new tax revenues of about $1.4 billion." According to the US Census, in 2000, New Jersey had 8,698,879 people. That works out to $160.94 per person. To be "tens of thousands" for anyone, the full effect of tax increases would have to be felt by no more than 140,000 people. What are the odds on that?

Assemblyman DeCroce, these are serious times in Our Fair State for taxpayers. We face a serious crisis in Trenton with our finances. I understand that you're just trying to drum up support for your petition, your party and yourself, but this state doesn't need any more of these lowball 101.5-type tactics where you pull numbers out of your- I mean, out of thin air solely to get people angry so they'll rally around you. Back up what you say with real math, or don't say it.

(hat tip to jmelli for article link, and to Xpatriated Texan for the census paragraph. Cross-posted on

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