New Jersey governor claimed federal aid would reduce the need for tax increases.
WASHINGTON – For the past year, Gov. James E. McGreevey (D) blamed President George W. Bush for his budget problems. The governor actually used his February 4th budget address to blast President Bush for turning his "back on states all across the nation," and thus, proposed increasing taxes on working families by another $700 million. This proposal came on top of the $2.43 billion tax increase the previous year.
But the criticism did not stop at that speech and since then, the governor has stepped up his rhetoric. On May 10th, McGreevey provided the Democratic response to President Bush\’s weekly radio address, and claimed: "State budget deficits will force tax increases and service cuts that will only hurt the economy, yet the stimulus package offered by the President fails to provide a single dollar in aid to the States. "
But critics of the governor call this "mincing of words." Taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist, who heads Americans for Tax Reform in Washington, DC, said, "after McGreevey spent the past six months blaming President Bush for the state\’s budget situation and whining for a federal bailout to prevent raising taxes, it is evident the Governor was never interested in fixing the state\’s budget problems – he was more interested in scoring political points. President Bush has delivered $561 million to the state and even now McGreevey is seeking to raise more taxes than originally proposed."
A recent ATR analysis found that New Jersey is expected to receive more than $1.7 billion of new tax revenue in fiscal year 2004 without raising taxes. The revenue increase comes from $561 million of federal aid as part of President Bush\’s tax cut, $630 million of revenue that was underestimated in the fiscal year 2003 budget, and $600 million of new revenue stemming from improved economic growth. Yet, McGreevey continues to push ahead with more than $700 million of tax increases.
"There is absolutely no justification for raising taxes in the Garden State," continued Norquist. "With one stroke of the pen last month, President Bush saved Gov. McGreevey from having to raise taxes and cut property tax relief. Yet, McGreevey is about to squander this historic opportunity. Given the governor\’s abysmal approval ratings, he should spend less time attacking President Bush and more time seeking to fix his own budget problems."