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#VRWC Twitter feed:
Woo hoo! Cory Booker's latest budget cuts Newark's property taxes by 13.6%. That's freakin' unbelievable! He's a fiscal genius!
Ayup, that's what he'd like his low-information constituency to think. And the Star-Ledger is all too glad to help him out with their breathless reporting.
So let's go to the WyFactCheck meter.
Fact: Municipal spending in Newark will rise by $51.9 million dollars to a whopping $639.5 million.
Fact: Property taxes only make up a small portion of Newark's revenue stream, most of it comes from state aid, aka "you and me" via the income tax.
Fact: "Emergency" federal aid of $50 million fell into Booker's lap.
Fact: Booker enacted a slew of alternative taxes including a new "rental car tax."
Fact: A recent property tax revaluation shifted the lion's share of the tax burden onto commercial properties.
Fact: Booker sold off a bunch of city assets, further inflating his sources of one-shot revenue.
Conclusion? Smoke and mirrors!
It's awfully convenient that Booker's buddy Obama sent him a check for almost the entire amount of his budget increase. It's pretty easy to look like a hero when you don't have to actually raise any new revenue. And next year, when the one-shot money fails to materialize, it'll be somebody else's problem to take the heat. Assuming, of course, Booker succeeds in his bid for the U.S. Senate.
And that 13.6% tax reduction only applies to residential properties. Like I noted earlier, overall tax collections are up because commercial property owners got hosed. They generally don't live (or vote) in Newark though, so eff 'em, right?
Meanwhile, the state (there's "you and me" again!) pays for Newark's schools. Essex County (me, and maybe you…) covers Newark's court system, prosecutors, judges, jails, and morgue. And the feds are always shoveling money at some boondoggle or another, while also paying "rent" for the use of Newark Airport.
A third-grader could cut taxes with a pot of money like that. What's freakin' unbelievable is that it took Booker seven years to finally figure out how to do it.
"Fiscal genius" my ass.
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