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Conspicuously absent from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s new 2014 fiscal year spending plan were the across-the-board personal income tax cuts he defended so vehemently just last year.  Governor Christie now wants Garden State residents to believe Democrats in the legislature are to blame for the lack of promised tax relief.  But, the facts are that the state cannot afford a tax cut this year any more than it could last year, the Governor’s overly optimistic revenue growth projections notwithstanding.  

A new editorial from the New Jersey Star Ledger calls Governor Christie’s rhetoric “pure fantasy” and lays out the facts:

Gov. Chris Christie knows that New Jersey can’t afford a tax cut right now, so he didn’t include one in his budget plan.

But he also knows he can’t admit this if he wants to win a Republican presidential primary in 2016. So he made clear during his budget address Tuesday that he intends to campaign on the merits of an income tax cut this year anyway.

“I am content to let the voters decide this in November,” he warned Democratic legislators.

Here we go again. The governor even promised Democrats that if they agree to cut taxes this year, he will find a way to pay for it.

That’s a remarkable claim. Because he says he can’t afford to rescind the tax hike he imposed on the working poor, or restore the funding for the six Planned Parenthood clinics he shut down. He can’t afford to restore property tax rebates, as promised. He can’t afford to provide adequate funding for state colleges and universities, among the most starved in the nation. And he can’t replenish the fund for open-space purchases…

So the governor’s suggestion that he has a secret vault with enough money to finance a tax cut is pure fantasy. The income-tax cut he proposed would cost $1.4 billion a year when phased in, with the wealthiest 1 percent claiming almost half the benefit.

If the governor really campaigns on this, understand that is pure show. It is a pitch designed for national TV, where gullible hosts who don’t know New Jersey will no doubt bobble their heads some more. It is an act for the national audience, and New Jersey is his prop…”

If an unexpected revenue bump does come along, Christie’s tax cuts for the wealthiest cannot be where it gets spent. Instead, it should be used to reverse the Governor’s previous cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit, to restore property tax rebates he gutted and generally reinvest in programs that have been revenue starved since the Great Recession began.