New Jersey Democrats May Try to Override Tax Veto

New Jersey Democratic lawmakers may try to override Governor Chris Christie’s veto of a tax increase on incomes exceeding $1 million before they vote on his $29.3 billion budget, Senate President Stephen Sweeney said.

The override may be sought by the end of this month, said Sweeney, a Democrat from West Deptford. The Senate must wait before considering an override for action by the Assembly, which is scheduled to hold its next voting session June 21. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver hasn’t made a decision on an override attempt, her spokesman, Tom Hester, said in an e-mail.

Democrats wanted to use the higher-income tax to restore property-tax rebates for seniors that Christie proposed eliminating in his budget. The party lacks the needed two-thirds majority to overturn a veto in both chambers.

“It certainly won’t be easy, but the pressure is turning up for us to get this thing done,” Sweeney, 50, said in an interview today. “Our seniors and our disabled are worth fighting for.”

Christie, a 47-year-old Republican who took office in January, and lawmakers face a constitutional deadline to approve a balanced budget before the fiscal year ends June 30. The governor’s budget includes $10 billion of spending cuts such as $820 million of reductions for schools and $445 million less for municipalities. It would also skip a $3 billion payment into the pension system.

Tax on Rich

Sweeney and his party had hoped to raise $637 million by reinstating the surcharge on earnings of more than $1 million for one year. It would have affected fewer taxpayers than a lapsed increase on earnings of more than $400,000 that was approved last year by Governor Jon Corzine.

The vetoed legislation, which both houses approved May 20 in party-line votes, would have imposed a 10.75 percent tax on incomes of more than $1 million. Those earning more than $500,000 are already taxed at 8.97 percent. Democrats hold a 47-33 majority in the Assembly and control the Senate 23-17.

Since 2008, eight states including Connecticut, Maryland, New York and Oregon have raised levies on high-income residents, according to a May 18 report by Josh Barro, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute in New York.

“These tax increases have been salable to voters as a tax on somebody else,” he said in the report. “It’s not surprising that millionaire’s taxes are tempting for legislators.”

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