The expected Democratic challenger to Gov. Christie, State Sen. Barbara Buono (D., Middlesex), launched a web site today that lets you to plug in the name of your town to find out how taxes and education spending have changed during the Christie administration.
Called "The Christie Price Tag," the web site says it uses state data to report that, for example, the average Cherry Hill homeowner paid $6,263 in 2009, the year before Christie got into office, but $7,676 in 2011. And it says the law requires that Christie send $20 million this year to Cherry Hill schools -- but he has only budgeted $12.7 million, a loss of $7.3 million.
The web site then asks for your email address, in an apparent effort to mine contact info for potential supporters.
So are the numbers legit? Democrats this week are pointing to a figure in this NJ Spotlight article, which shows that net property taxes have gone up 18.6 percent during the three years Christie has been office. This is due in large part to Christie's reductions of tax rebate programs.
"While Governor Christie has tried desperately to rewrite his record on property taxes, the facts are clear that, under the Christie administration, property taxes have skyrocketed and school funding has been recklessly slashed," said David Turner, Buono's spokesman, in a statement. "Rather than championing real property tax relief, the governor focused on pushing a tax cut for the wealthy, cementing his out-of-touch his priorities."
The Christie administration sees such math as bogus. A Christie cabinet official told legislators this morning that the governor has slowed the growth of property taxes to an average of less than 2 percent a year -- compared to a combined 70 percent growth in average bills over the previous decade. With Democratic support, Christie signed into law a 2 percent cap on property tax increases (although it allows for some exemptions).
Kevin Roberts, Christie's campaign spokesman, said in an email: "We know that Barbara Buono will lob any negative attack in the book to distract from her record of voting for 154 tax and fee increases on New Jersey families. When she and Jon Corzine weren't busy losing 240,000 jobs, they were raising taxes on families by $2 billion when she was Corzine's budget chair. Property taxes doubled under her watch."