Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 43
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
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Corzine a Proponent of Consolidation; Working “Very Hard” on Tax Relief

Ellen Gilbert

“I have been an absolute proponent of consolidation,” said Governor Jon S. Corzine in a Monday morning press conference call with representatives from weekly and monthly newspapers throughout the state.

Responding to a question about the significance of the special joint meeting Monday evening between Princeton Township Committee and Princeton Borough Council in which efforts leading to possible consolidation would be discussed, the Governor observed that “this time the outcome is likely to be favorable, because I think people get the idea that economies of scale work. Consolidation is a pattern that will help us, in the long run, to significantly lower property taxes. I’m looking forward to more consolidations during my next term.”

As for N.J.’s reputation for having high taxes, Mr. Corzine admitted that “I hear that on a regular basis. But,” he went on, “the Census Bureau tells us there are more people moving into N.J. than moving out. People come here because we have the highest, or second highest income level in the U.S. They can find good jobs here. It’s clear that if you move to Mississippi the cost of living will be a lot cheaper, but the quality of the school system won’t be the same.”

Acknowledging that “we do need to work on property taxes,” the Governor returned to prospective municipal consolidations as a way to lower taxes. He also noted a restored property tax rebate for people making under $75,000, and the homestead rebate for senior citizens as “bridges” to easing the tax burden. “We’re working very hard to provide property tax relief,” he said, pointing to the new school funding formula as a boon to “our middle class neighborhoods who will receive more school aid” as a result.

As to whether his Wall Street expertise is a plus or a minus in the current economic climate, Mr. Corzine reported that he has “been active in discussions with both the White House and Congress on the reform package that is now being discussed. I’m on record in speaking out for the need for a Federal regulator; many of the problems occurred when there was a lack of oversight during the first eight years of this century. I was an advocate of strong regulation even when I was working at Goldman Sachs. It all depends on who you put in charge.”

“Those who were in charge turned their backs on warnings about people like Madoff. I think this has been corrected under President Obama, although I do think there are additional steps to be taken.” Adding that he “recognizes politics” at work, the Governor acknowledged that despite the fact that he hasn’t been on Wall Street for a decade, there are people “who will say that I’m one of those responsible” for the current situation.

In response to a question about beefing up gambling revenues, the Governor reminded listeners that when Atlantic City first came into the gaming franchise, Las Vegas was its only competitor. “Now there are about 38 places with gambling, and the competition is more severe.” As a result, Mr. Corzine said, his administration is “aggressively working on making Atlantic City a destination resort. Places that turn themselves into resorts as well as being gambling casinos are doing well,” he noted, adding that “We’ve got something that Pennsylvania doesn’t have: we have a great shore all around Atlantic City.”

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