Looking at the Candidates: Who's Best for New Jersey Businesses

by Kathleen Hoffelder, content editor, NJCPA – September 13, 2017
Looking at the Candidates: Who

New Jersey voters have a lot to think about this November. School funding, any kind of tax issue from property to sales to inheritances, as well as pension obligations are some of the issues that voters are faced with when picking a candidate. So, where do they stand on the issues? NJCPA recently hosted the candidates at live Q&A sessions, which represents some of the answers below. Other answers were taken from recent discussions by the candidates at public forums, in the press or on their websites. Let’s compare:

School Funding

Guadagno — She would work to reform the school funding formula so millionaires in certain areas like Hoboken and Jersey City pay their fair share. As a part of her ‘Audit Trenton’ initiative, Guadagno favors auditing all school districts in New Jersey to ensure money is being spent wisely. 

Murphy — He has favored a tax increase on the wealthy to help pay for a revamped school funding plan, recog­nizing that there are inequities between certain school districts.

Estate/Inheritance Tax

Guadagno — “People cannot afford to die here anymore,” she said.

Murpy — “Do I think it makes sense to be one of two states to have both the estate tax and inheritance tax? No,” said Murphy.

Millionaire's Tax

Guadagno — She maintains that “if you put a tax on the most taxed people in this country, they will leave.” No more taxes, she says. “You have to solve your problems in another way.”

Murphy — “That’s going to be on the table along with everything else,” said Murphy. 

Business Tax Changes

Guadagno — “Business taxes have been cut enough, unless there’s an outlier,” said Guadagno.

 Murphy — “This state is in deep economic crisis. Everything is on the table — every expenditure and every tax,” said Murphy. On cutting business taxes, he said, “I’m a particular critic of only reaching for the tax lever as the only weapon we have to attract companies or keep them here. I think a low-cost tax environment is not within our future.”

Property Taxes

Guadagano — “New Jersey needs to wrestle the highest property taxes in the country to the ground,” said Guadagno. She proposes capping the school por­tion of a homeowner’s property tax bill to 5 percent of their household income. Any amount owed in excess of the 5-percent circuit breaker threshold will be applied directly to the homeowner’s property tax bill as a credit. 

Murphy — He believes in making New Jersey more affordable by easing the property tax burden by funding our schools, restoring rebates for seniors and low-income residents, and incentiv­izing towns to share services.

Pension Obligations

Guadagno — She says that the recent Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission set forth sound principles and ideas for tackling New Jersey’s pension crisis that should serve as the starting point for negotiating a solution. 

Murphy — “This is a state people don’t trust anymore… the state must meet its side of the deal,” said Murphy. New Jersey has the worst-funded pension system in the country. 

Minimum Wage Hike to $15

Guadagno — The minimum wage is not a “living wage” but a stepping stone, she said. A hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour would lead to more “self-serve” situations.

Murphy — “I would support it. I’m on record as supporting it but I would do it in a gradual period of years,” said Murphy. “If we increase the minimum wage and it leads to a discernible increase in unemployment and it’s unambiguous, then that’s where we should have the debate.”  

This article appeared in the September/October 2017 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.