Renew ‘millionaire’s tax,’ save aid to public schools

This is an open letter to Gov. Chris Christie. I have watched in horror as your misguided policies have punished the hardworking and rewarded the rich.

Let’s start with the premise that taxes are bad. As a society we then need to choose. Your recent attempt to impose what amounts to a tax upon state workers, and in particular teachers, is in my opinion unfair and clearly not the proper course of action.

About the same amount of money that needs to be raised in order to maintain school aid at previous levels could be raised by leaving the “millionaire’s tax” in place. I doubt any person in that income bracket would move out of New Jersey because of the extra expenditure. I also do not believe it would be an extreme hardship. The millionaire’s tax was in place for years, so the expectations of those paying it will not change. Is someone making $250,000 a year really going to be deprived of something because he pays a few extra dollars to help balance his or her local school budget?

Conversely, a teacher making between $45,000 and $70,000 a year is being asked to pay more in the form of a pay freeze and a loss in benefits. All New Jerseyans know that an educated citizenry means fewer social problems down the road. Good schools and educated children equal less crime and less reliance on social programs. If we disagree with this premise, then we’re wasting a lot of money on our public schools.

Much is made of the fact that the previous governor could have eliminated the millionaire’s tax before he left office. Had he done that, there would have been an outcry that such a tax was jammed through the Legislature before giving the incoming governor a chance to be heard. I believe our previous governor was right in leaving this decision to you.

Now, Gov. Christie, it’s time for you to do what’s right.

We have tens of thousands of children who will be unfairly affected by the cuts you are making. We also have thousands of teachers and other school personnel whose lives will be unduly affected. The restoration of the millionaire’s tax could save them from this fate.

How will those losing their jobs be able to pay their mortgages, meet their other obligations and continue to be productive members of society? Worse yet, your cuts will mean local property taxes will inevitably go up, adding to what already are the highest property taxes in the country.

We agree, there are no “good” taxes. But clearly the millionaire’s tax is “less bad.”

William Flynn

Chairman Old Bridge Democratic Party