“Fighting New Jersey’s Tax Crush”

September 28, 2009

The Asbury Park Press in New Jersey has launched an interesting series, aptly titled “Fighting New Jersey’s Tax Crush,” looking at the state’s tax system.

Part one of the eight-part series examines the state’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes:

New Jersey’s tax system is dysfunctional because it deters job growth and long-term economic planning, said Joseph Henchman, director of state programs for the Washington-based Tax Foundation, which has studied state tax policies since 1937.

“There is no bright spot in New Jersey,” he said. “… Most Americans gripe about property taxes, but New Jersey residents genuinely have a broken property tax system.”

As the Tax Foundation reported last week, New Jersey homeowners paid the highest median property taxes in 2008 $6,320).

Day two of the series looks at the salaries of public employees in the state. Today, the Tax Foundation announced the availability of new data and research on state and local governments on its website, including state and local government employees and pay, by function. New Jersey pays its full-time elementary and secondary education employees an average annual salary of $60,661 – second only to California ($60,902).

The Asbury Park Press series includes more insight from the Tax Foundation:

Such trends in public salaries prompt economist Gerald Prante of the Washington-based Tax Foundation to ask: “Is government looking out for special interests – a union – or the public?” …

Public workers tend to be more highly paid than private-sector workers, according to Bill Ahern, economist at the Tax Foundation.

“If you look at the kinds of jobs in the public and private sectors that are roughly comparable, you’ll find the public sector (employees) just are paid higher,” Ahern said.

The remaining “Fighting New Jersey’s Tax Crush” investigation will show why manufacturing and taxpayers have left the state, taking billions of dollars in income with them; why small towns are no match against public employee unions and state arbitrators; and why the gubernatorial candidates are talking about everything except fixing the state’s tax system.

New Jersey has also earned the distinction of having the least-business-friendly state business tax climate. More on the 2010 State Business Tax Climate. More on New Jersey.


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