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Ask The Wealthy To Give More

Home News Tribune — Friday, April 4, 2003


The inescapable fact for the McGreevey administration is that income taxes represent the lion's share of state revenues but income-tax collections are on the wane. Hence the growing and very sane call by legislators for New Jersey to increase contributions by the rich to square its books.

The nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services estimates the state will collect $240 million less over the next 15 months than is anticipated for the $23.7 billion spending plan proposed for 2003-04. Analysts add the Governor's Office overestimates income tax collections by $126 million this year and $214 million next year.

Gov. James E. McGreevey thus far has used the scalpel as his favorite surgical tool, slicing deep into funding for higher education, government-funded arts, health care for the poor and programs for minorities. The willingness to cut is admirable and necessary, but the patient is bleeding out. All the while McGreevey has refused even to consider an upward adjustment in income taxes for the state's wealthiest residents, a means of transfusing the budget with life-giving cash.

It is a painful, dangerous, short-sighted way to run a state.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Bernard Kenny, D-Hudson, and Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, urged the Senate Budget Committee to weigh higher income taxes on the rich as an option. May others lawmakers join their push. As for the governor, not every pledge can or should be kept. A sign of wisdom is knowing when to break a promise, like now.

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