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IN MY OPINION . . .

Christie and Property Taxes

Letter to the Editor, The Record

I was a frequent critic of Gov. Christie's early fiscal policy, especially his slashing state aid to suburban school districts in 2010. Ramsey, my town, lost $2.2 million in one swipe of the governor's budget-balancing knife, further burdening local property taxpayers.

Statewide, public education lost $800 million, all to preserve an income tax cut for the rich on the theory they would thus be motivated not to move to tax-friendlier climes. A theory since disproved.

Then, the governor redeemed himself. Against union opposition, he pushed through a new pension and health benefits law that requires public employees to contribute toward health insurance premiums, on a salary-based sliding scale. Lower paid employees contribute 10 percent of premium cost; higher paid, up to 35 percent.

Next school year, Ramsey will save close to $2 million in health insurance costs, thanks largely to this new law, and we have been able to deliver school budgets with the lowest tax increases in our history, two years running. School taxes for the average home will increase just $14.87 in 2013.

Multiply the Ramsey experience by 580 school districts—some larger, some smaller—and one can see taxpayer savings of close to $1 billion a year, at a reasonable cost to employees and without damage to the state treasury. It will be Christie's greatest legacy . . . and New Jersey's greatest property tax relief program ever.

Sen. Buono better find a different issue if she wants to become our next governor.

Richard Muti

The writer is a former Independent mayor of Ramsey and currently serves on the school board. The opinions expressed in this letter are his as an individual.

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