With its reserve fund depleted, and its last-minute budget agreement featuring several unappetizing tax hikes on corporations and the wealthiest people living in the state (as well as taxes on e-cigarettes and Airbnb) New Jersey lawmakers and state officials are considering yet another tax – on tap water. The problem is the state already charges a public utility franchise tax on tap water.
State Sen. Bob Smith proposed the tax, which he posed as a “user fee” based on volume, saying it would add 10 cents for every 1,000 gallons of water used. But the state already charges a public utility franchise tax on water system operators of $0.01 per 1,000 gallons. That tax, which went into effect in 1984, is supposed to “ensure clean drinking water in New Jersey.”
One critic of the tax hikes pointed out that New Jersey residents, already among the most heavily taxed in the country, are once again being asked to pay more. “Once again, the most over-taxed people out of all 50 states in this country, are being asked to dig a little deeper after liberal Phil Murphy just raised their taxes by nearly $2 billion.”
The Democrat who introduced the bill is trying to package it as a “user fee.” But Councilman Peter Brown said, “Let’s call it for what it is… it’s another tax.”
Given that New Jerseyans are already being taxed to the hilt, one newspaper columnist joked: “what’s next, taxing air?.”
Meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, a Goldman Sachs alum, has hiked taxes on almost everything to push through a $37.4 billion budget as he’s promised to help the state’s pension fund recover from years of chronic under-funding (back in 2015, it was the most badly underfunded pension fund in the US).
How do they get by asking middle class private workers, many with no retirement plan, to pay for government worker’s pensions?
Of course, that remains a difficult – some would say politically impossible – goal, as Murphy really would need to resort to taxing more commodities and public resources (like air) to even put a dent in the state’s terrible financial situation brought about by decades of liberal government.