Christie Taxes Wins Most Support From N.J. 1%, Poll Says

Support for Governor Chris Christie’s proposed 10 percent income-tax cut is highest among wealthier New Jerseyans, a Quinnipiac University poll shows.

Registered voters back the plan, 56 percent to 33 percent, according to the survey released today. Support rises with earnings, from 49 percent among those in households making less than $30,000 a year to 60 percent from those exceeding $100,000.

The first-term Republican proposed the rollback as part of his $32.1 billion fiscal 2013 budget. An analysis distributed by Assembly Democrats showed that the wealthiest residents would gain the most. New Jersey had the third-highest per-capita income in the U.S., at $51,167 in 2010, trailing Connecticut and Massachusetts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“No sooner did Christie propose his 10 percent income-tax cut than legislative Democrats denounced it,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement. “But -- so far -- he wins with the voters. Even nonmillionaires think the plan is fair.”

Christie, during a town hall meeting in Westwood today, said he’s managed to “turn Trenton on its head” by forcing Democratic lawmakers to debate tax cuts. The majority party has said they’ll focus on easing the state’s property-tax burden. Christie said that is a switch from the state raising taxes and fees 115 times in the decade before he took office.

“We are now having the right argument,” he said. “Let me stand up here and on behalf of all of you declare victory. When we have Democrats arguing about which tax to cut, we’ve won, everybody.”

Presidential Election

The Quinnipiac survey also gauged support for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign among Garden State voters, with 49 percent favoring the Illinois Democrat over 39 percent for Mitt Romney, the Republican former Massachusetts governor. The gap narrowed to 49 percent to 43 percent when Christie, 49, was named as a Romney running mate.

Christie said in October that he wouldn’t seek his party’s presidential nomination, and has scoffed publicly at suggestions he might be a vice presidential candidate.

“Putting him on the ticket helps the Republicans a little, but not enough, in New Jersey,” Carroll said in the statement. “If the measure of a vice presidential pick is carrying his or her home state, then Governor Christie comes up short.”

The survey also showed former Republican Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum losing to Obama 52 percent to 34 percent.

Job Approval

Poll takers surveyed 1,396 registered voters by telephone Feb. 21-27. The general results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

Respondents approve of Christie’s job performance 55 percent to 38 percent, close to his high of 58 percent in October, according to the poll.

“Voters continue to give the gov good marks on how he’s doing his job in Trenton,” Carroll said in the statement.

Under Christie’s tax-cut proposal, couples making $500,000 a year would save almost $2,781, while those bringing home $30,000 would pay about $45 less, according to the analysis by legislative Democrats. The governor’s budget counts on a 7.3 percent gain in revenue, the most since before the recession began in December 2007.

The spending plan is structurally unbalanced because it is built on “optimistic” growth projections, according to a Feb. 24 report from Standard & Poor’s. The budget also would spend $288 million from reserve funds and increases the reliance on one-time revenue sources to $1.6 billion, the report said.

“We think S&P should learn from its own experience and make more of an effort to avoid reaching premature conclusions,” Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said in a statement the same day. “This governor has an unbroken record of creating responsible, balanced budgets without tax increases that have been built on solid, conservative revenue estimates.”

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