Tying Transportation Funding Fix to Estate Tax Elimination is Reckless

macinnes200x150This afternoon the Senate and Assembly Democrats’ both released frameworks of plans to fix New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund that included the outright elimination of the state’s estate tax.

A long-term plan to replenish the funding for New Jersey’s roads, bridges and mass transit is overdue and essential – but tying such a welcomed plan to an outright elimination of the state’s estate tax is financially reckless and endangers the state’s future. It has nothing to do with so-called ‘tax fairness.’

By moving to eliminate the estate tax, New Jersey’s leaders are once again severely diminishing the state’s ability to invest in more affordable higher education, cleaner air or a stronger safety net for those who have fallen on hard times. At a time when New Jersey can’t even meet its constitutional and moral obligations, let alone make investments critical to our future, our legislative leaders are choosing to dig our financial hole even deeper.

And for what? Eliminating the estate tax is no boon to the middle class, despite proponents’ claims. While 9 million of us will pay higher gas taxes, our legislative leaders propose to bail out around 4,000 of New Jersey’s wealthiest heirs each year. Eliminating the tax will help the largest estates the most, with those inheriting assets of more than $5.34 million who will see an average tax break of $1.3 million. The cost to a New Jersey that cannot pay its current and future bills will be more than a half-billion dollars every year.