Governor hikes Jersey City taxes, tells residents who to send to Congress

Governor Phil Murphy is telling Jersey City residents to put Robert J. Menendez, Jr. in Congress, but it is unclear that they will listen to him after he cut annual state aid by hundreds of millions of dollars, driving tax bills up $2611 over last year.

Three days after homeowners learned they are getting property tax bills that are about $2611 higher, Murphy was in Jersey City attending a fundraiser for Menendez at the Hudson House.

Although he has done nothing to earn public adulation and made no statements about what he would do if elected, the younger Menendez has the backing of power brokers in all three counties that comprise the district.

In 2018, Murphy signed legislation to redistribute how public school districts receive aid from Trenton, under which Jersey City will lose a total $795 million in annual funding by the 2024-2025 scholastic year.

That same year, Murphy signed a law that allows Jersey City to establish a payroll tax for companies with more than 25 employees to help fund the schools.

In the state’s newly redrawn 8th Congressional District, which includes most of Jersey City, the retirement of U.S. Representative Albio Sires (D-West New York) is creating an opening that will be filled by either the son of corrupt US Senator Robert Menendez or North Bergen entrepreneur Brian Varela, a progressive Democrat who is endorsed by Andrew Yang.

The 36-year-old Menendez has avoided making any substantive remarks since announcing his candidacy on January 6, or when members of the notorious political establishment started endorsing him on December 20, 2021, the day Sires called it quits.

By contrast, his opponent has defined Several progressive leaders and organizations have endorsed Varela, including 2020 Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang, Democrats for Change and the Forward Party.

“We are facing a massive political machine that is guaranteed 50,000 votes without knocking on a single door, making a single phone call, or spending a single dollar,” said Varela, who is calling on citizens to show them that “Your Voice Counts.”

The reduction in state aid to the district started during Murphy’s first year in the State House, when he enacted a new school aid formula was created and districts such as Jersey City were told they have to pay their “local fair share.”

The massive tax hike heading toward Jersey City residents could impact the election prospects of the son of New Jersey’s corrupt US Senator.

A seven-year, austerity program that Murphy imposed has already robbed $233.6 million from the district annually. Jersey City will receive $795 million less than its highest aid level each year after the cuts have been completed.

Jersey City School Board President Gerald Lyons, Vice President Gina Verdibello, Trustees Noemi Velazquez, Paula Jones-Watson and Lorenzo Richardson voted for the $973.8 million budget, which will feel like a $2,600 school tax increase for the average homeowner.

Vice President Natalia Ioffe, Trustee Alexander Hamilton, Younass Barkouch and LeKendrick Shaw voted against the proposed budget.

The school board is suing the state, hoping to get Murphy’s draconian aid cuts ruled unconstitutional, but observers say that is a longshot.

“I’m honored to endorse Robert J. Menendez to serve as the next U.S. Representative of the newly-formed 8th Congressional District of New Jersey,” said Murphy. “A distinguished attorney and Port Authority Commissioner, Robert is exactly the type of leader we need…”

“Having grown up in Hudson County, he knows the families and communities he is seeking to represent and I believe he’ll be a strong voice for good-paying jobs, affordable health care, strong public schools, and reliable mass transit,” said Murphy. “And, as a millennial, Robert represents a new generation of leadership whose voices need to be represented within our Congressional delegation and in the halls of Congress.”

Neither Murphy nor the candidate explained how Menendez would do any of that.

During his father’s nearly 30 years in Washington, workers have seen wages decline, he blocked legislation allowing Medicare to bargain for lower drug prices and New Jersey has had some of the most racially-segregated schools in the country.

As for reliable mass transit, the Federal Transit Administration reported that NJ Transit trains had the highest number of mechanical failures of any system in the country during Murphy’s administration.

Mayor Steve Fulop Blames You

Mayor Steve Fulop has also endorsed Menendez, who only a year ago said, “Unlike Steven Fulop, I am Hudson County born and raised” during a bitter exchange that preceded his aborted mayoral challenge.

Instead of holding Murphy accountable for reducing the state aid or owning up to his responsibility, Fulop lashed out at school board members, who are unpaid trustees with remarkably little power over school operations or financing.

“I am all for investing in students, but you should have a good school system and it is not always throwing more money at a problem that creates a better outcome,” Fulop said. “You need actual good decision-making and good accountability. There are things you can change without impacting the classroom.”

Sires has served as Mayor of West New York, as the first Hispanic Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly and for 16 years in Congress.

“Albio never forgot the values that he learned as a young immigrant to this country: hard work, fairness, responsibility, and opportunity,” said Murphy. “As he prepares to retire from public office, Tammy and I would like to thank him for his long and impressive record of public service to the people of Hudson County and New Jersey.”

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