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Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) President Grover Norquist has called on the New Jersey Legislature to pass Cap 2.5, Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal to limit the growth of local property taxes to 2.5 percent annually. While the measure was originally proposed as a constitutional amendment, ATR also supports a statutory cap, which the governor today indicated he would sign.

The governor’s proposal is a serious cap on property tax growth. The legislature recently passed a “cap” sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, which ATR does not support as it exempts the major drivers of state spending – pensions and heath costs. Whether constitutional or statutory, the Christie measure eliminates these exemptions, putting the brakes on the growth of property taxes in New Jersey, the nation’s highest per capita.

Norquist argued that legislative Democrats are simply playing politics with their “cap,” attempting to take credit for a reform proposed by the governor without actually confronting the problem

In a letter to the legislature this week, Norquist wrote:

Sen. Sweeney’s 2.9 percent cap exempts the major drivers of state budget growth, pensions and health costs. Should it become law, it will be nothing more than a continuation of the ineffective 2007 Corzine tax “cap” of 4 percent, which too was rife with exemptions.

The governor’s 2.5 percent cap provides real reform. It is modeled after a similar measure, Proposition 2.5, in Massachusetts that has been successful in limiting local tax burdens. According to the Manhattan Institute and the Commonsense Institute of New Jersey, from the adoption of Proposition 2.5 in 1980 until 2007, property taxes grew just 22 percent, compared to 68 percent nationwide and 102 percent in New Jersey.

Now is not the time for political infighting. New Jersey’s oppressive tax burden and culture of overspending is devastating the state’s economy. I urge you to eschew Sen. Sweeney’s artificial tax cap in favor of Gov. Christie’s tried-and-true reform.”