Schaer: Christie Might be Open to New Taxes [AUDIO]
In his $34.4 billion budget proposal for the 2015 fiscal year, Gov. Chris Christie wants to tax electronic cigarettes at the same rate as traditional cigarettes. That tax hike proposal has one Democratic asking if that means the governor is open to other revenue raising taxes.
"If there's an appetite in the governor's office to have new taxes for that (e-cigarettes), perhaps they have an appetite for new taxes in other areas," said Assembly Budget Committee chairman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic). "Obviously with new revenue streams comes the ability to fund other things."
The governor has steadfastly and repeatedly said he will not raise taxes. Republican Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (R-Red Bank) reiterated Christie's position when asked to respond to Schaer's comments about tax hikes during a recent budget hearing in Trenton.
"I can assure the chairman the governor will not have an appetite for tax increases in general. You won't be seeing this governor proposing tax increases on a beleaguered populace that is already paying the highest taxes overall in this country," O'Scanlon said.
Both Schaer and O'Scanlon agreed that the e-cigarette tax change is not a foregone conclusion. If it's enacted, it will generate an estimated $35 million in revenue for the state. E-cigarettes are currently taxed under the state's wholesale tobacco tax which is 7 percent. Christie proposes taxing them at the same rate as conventional cigarettes which is $2.70 per pack.