Booker and Lonegan’s New Jersey consensus: The taxes are too damn high

By Yaël Ossowski |

TRENTON — One is a tea partyer and the other is a Twitter partyer.

One runs New Jersey’s most populist city and the other runs the state’s biggest conservative organization.

While they have many conflicting views, Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Bookerand his Republic opponent, Steve Lonegan, former mayor of Bogota and head ofAmericans For Prosperity New Jersey, have one thing in common that could affect the life of every New Jerseyan: They both think taxes in the state are too damn high.

At least that’s the indication from Friday’s debate between the liberal Democrat and the conservative Republican.

Pressed on taxes in the Garden State, both candidates made it known that living in New Jersey means paying too many taxes.

TOO DAMN HIGH: Booker has campaigned on lowering the corporate income tax rate to 28 percent.

“My opponent has actually proposed over a $1 trillion tax on our small businesses, which would crush our economy,” Lonegan said in the debate, hoping to expose Booker’s penchant for raising taxes. “It will destroy jobs and it will destroy the economy.”

But little known to Lonegan, Booker actually led the effort to cut city property taxes in Newark’s 2013-14 budget.

“All these companies moving their headquarters into our city growing our tax base so much that this year we were able to give $1,000 tax break to every property owner in the city,” countered Booker, who proposes lowering the federal corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent.

In a speech to the African-American Chamber of Commerce of Newark in September, Booker made the case that the federal tax code needs to be “fairer and more predictable.”

While the Newark mayor does not have the most consistent message on state and local taxes, he has at least offered that lowering them can help businesses grow and expand.

While their run for federal office has little to do with domestic New Jersey policy, it does provide a new consensus for the state lawmakers in Trenton. Gov. Chris Christie has already started a campaign to lower the state’s taxes, so the election of either of these two candidates could mount general support in the state Legislature for plans to cut, not raise, the tax burden.

The Tax Foundation, a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C., recently released a report showing the state of New Jersey has the nearly biggest state and local property tax burden in union.

similar study released in August by the financial magazine Kiplinger found that New Jersey was one of the worst states for a U.S. citizen to retire because of exorbitant taxes on private sales, income, estate and private property.

That has left many New Jersey residents clamoring for “tax relief.”

When New Jersey residents go vote for their U.S. senator Oct. 16, they can rest assured that either candidate will at least have the tax burden in mind when they put down their first votes in Washington, D.C.

So, at least on New Jersey’s high tax burden, these candidates agree:


Contact Yaël Ossowski at and follow him @YaelOss.

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