Poll: Corzine blamed for no tax reform

Poll: Corzine blamed for no tax reform

January 25, 2006  Star Ledger

New Jersery voters are dubious about the prospect of property tax reform anytime soon, and it’s taking a toll on their feelings about the job Gov. Jon Corzine is doing.

A Qunnipiac Poll released this morning showed two out of three voters surveyed said they thought it was unlikely lawmakers would cut property tax bills.

And more than half of the voters polled disapproved of how Corzine has handled the tax reform effort. That apparently has affected his overall approval rating, too. It fell to 42 percent - the first slip below the 50 percent mark since the budget showdown last July and his lowest mark since April of last year.

“There have been deadlines missed and promises made that were not fulfilled,” said Clay Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “They’ve been promised tax relief for so long. This is going on three years that it has been the number one issue for voters; people are getting sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

The state Legislature got even lower approval ratings. Overall, voters disapproved of the job lawmakers are doing by an upside-down, 27-to-54 percent margin. On property taxes, the disapproval is even greater, 16 to 62 percent, the poll showed.

State Republican chairman Tom Wilson said Corzine should shoulder much of the blame for the failings of the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

“Governor Corzine’s numbers are sinking faster than the Titanic for one simple reason: he’s caving in to the special interests and failing to deliver anything close to the kind of property tax relief or reform he promised,” Wilson said.

The poll showed that a majority (54 percent) supports a plan to limit property tax increases to 4 percent a year, although that support falls to 41 percent if those tax caps lead to layoffs of teachers, police or firefighters, the poll showed.

And the 20 percent property tax credit being discussed is the right amount for most voters, according to the poll. While 29 percent said it was too little and 10 percent said it was too much.

Voters were evenly split, 46 to 46 percent, on whether public workers should pay more for their health benefits and accept a reduction in retirement benefits.

The poll also found a majority of voters:

* Oppose a proposal to sell or least the New Jersey Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway as a way to reduce the state’s debt, 53 to 34 percent.

* Oppose a proposal to eliminate the state’s death penalty, 53 to 41 percent. However, when asked which penalty they preferred for a convicted murder, 51 percent of those surveyed supported life in prison.

* Support the state’s new civil unions law, 54 to 41 percent. Voters were split, 49 to 45 percent, over whether mayors and other public officials should be required to perform ceremonies, although the poll showed 75 percent opposed forcing religious leaders to perform such ceremonies.

The poll of 1,310 registered voters was conducted by phone Jan. 16-22. It has a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points.

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