40+ NJ groups call for a millionaires tax

Better Choices LogoToday the Star-Ledger has the scoop on a letter from a diverse coalition of community and labor groups urging New Jersey legislators to raise taxes on millionaires and corporations instead of making deeper cuts that will hurt the state’s middle and working class. The letter, organized by NJ Working Families, is the latest sign of growing momentum for revenue measures.

Here’s what NJ Working Families director Analilia Mejia had to say:

“Chris Christie made a bad bet that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations would jump start New Jersey’s economy, and working families shouldn’t have to pay the price for his failed polices. The real path to a New Jersey comeback is through investing in infrastructure and strong, safe communities. Any responsible budget plan for the next fiscal year must include new, progressive, sustainable sources of revenue. Obvious places to start are restoring the 2009 surcharge on the state’s wealthiest residents, closing corporate loopholes and repealing the corporate tax cuts that have failed to deliver the jobs New Jerseyans were promised.”

And here’s the letter below:

OPEN LETTER TO THE NEW JERSEY LEGISLATURE

May 20, 2014

Dear Legislator,

We the undersigned, representing diverse interests and communities from across the state, unite in requesting that our elected officials immediately engage in discussions of raising revenues to include in the passage of the FY2015 budget.

Weak revenue collections in April leave New Jersey facing an astounding projected deficit of $800 million for the 2014 fiscal year. This is not the first time Governor Christie’s optimistic revenue projections have fallen short, and it should now be obvious to all that the State can no longer afford to dither while our credit rating plummets and vital services sit on the chopping block. We must put a halt to the damaging fiscal policies of Governor Christie that have pushed us to this fiscal cliff.

For four years the Governor has balanced the State Budget by shredding the safety net, cutting services on which working families rely, and disinvesting in our state’s greatest assets of education, environment, and infrastructure. At the same time, Governor Christie has protected wasteful and ineffective tax cuts for the state’s wealthiest residents and biggest corporations. He has cut programs that put people to work to implement a plan of welfare for the 1 percent.

New Jersey lags behind our neighbors in economic growth and continues to have the highest unemployment in the region. Within the last month two credit rating agencies, Standard & Poors and Fitch, downgraded New Jersey’s credit rating because the Governor’s budgets have been loaded with one-shot gimmicks and unrealistic revenue projections. Credit downgrades increase the cost of borrowing and doing business, compounding the fiscal crisis. This cannot go on.

The Administration has failed to identify sustainable revenue sources for the state’s Transportation Trust Fund forcing heavy reliance on borrowing and one-shot gimmicks. Support for state universities and colleges is down 16 percent since 2006, saddling students with unaffordable debt and putting a college degree that much further out of reach for many families. Open space funding is running out yet the Administration has no plan to fund the Green Acres program.

Four years of failed economic policy demonstrate the need to carve a new path for our state. New Jersey residents need jobs, investment in K-12 education, affordable higher education and housing, accessible quality medical care, improvements in critical infrastructure, and protection of our environmental assets. We must make better choices beginning with looking for fair and equitable ways to raise revenues necessary for investment to promote sustainable economic growth.

This is a pivotal moment for the Legislature to change course. We must embrace a forward looking, sustainable vision for our state and make the necessary investments to protect New Jersey’s most vulnerable and ensure its working families thrive. We therefore respectfully call on the Legislature to incorporate substantive and sustainable revenue streams that are not regressive into the FY2015 budget. We offer our commitment to work with you to see that our state ensures better choices are made for New Jersey today and for our future.

Respectfully,

Analilia Mejia, Executive Director, New Jersey Working Families
Rick Engler, Director, Work Environment Council
Wendell Steinhauer, President, New Jersey Education Association
Jim Walsh, Mid-Atlantic Region Director, Food and Water Watch
Jose Ramos, Executive Director, Spanish American Social Cultural Association
Ken McNamara, President, CWA Local 1037
Alberto Hernandez, President, CWA Local 1082
Matt Shapiro, President, New Jersey Tenants Organization
Rosie Grant, Executive Director, Paterson Education Fund
David Weiner, President CWA 1081
Carol Gay, President, New Jersey Industrial Union Council
David Pringle, Campaign Director, Clean Water Action
Patrick Kavanagh, President, CWA Local 1032
Sharon Krengel, Coordinator, Our Children/Our Schools
Timothy Foley, Political Director, Committee of Interns and Residents, SEIU
Toni Zimmer, President, League of Women Voters of New Jersey
Reva Foster, Chair, New Jersey Black Issues Caucus
Jeff Tittel, Chapter Director, Sierra Club New Jersey Chapter
Deb Huber, President, National Organization of Women, New Jersey
William Colon, President, The Latino Institute
Terry Moore, Coordinator, Save Our Schools March, New Jersey
Debra Jennings & Diana Autin, Executive Co-Directors, Statewide Parent Advocacy Network
Sharon Smith & Johnnie Lattner, cofounders, Parents United for Local School Education, New Jersey
Trina Scordo, Executive Director, New Jersey Communities United
Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director, New Jersey Citizen Action
Gordon MacInnes, President, New Jersey Policy Perspective
Avery Grant, Executive Director, Concerned Citizens Coalition of Long Branch
Linda Reid, President, Parent Education Organizing Council
Marcia Marley, President, Blue Wave NJ
Junius Williams, Director, Abbott Leadership Institute
Kevin Brown, State Director, 32BJ
Raymond Ocasio, Executive Director, La Casa de Don Pedro
Mary Ellen Marino, Chair, New Jersey Progressive Democrats of America
Hetty Rosenstein, Area Director, CWA District 1
Timothy Kyle, Community & Labor Liaison, New Jersey United Students
Staci Berger, President, Housing & Community Development Network of New Jersey
Veronica Vanterpool, Executive Director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Ed Lynch, Deputy Director, UFCW International Union Region 1
Lawrence Hamm, Chairman, People’s Organization for Progress
Steve Young, Executive Director, Council of New Jersey State College Locals
Megan Chambers, Laundry, Distribution & Food Service Joint Board, Workers United/SEIU
Lis Smith, President, Statewide Education Organizing Committee
Rev. Craig Hirshberg, Executive Director, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of NJ