Taxes Dominate Final N.J. Gubernatorial Debate


corzine-christieLast night, the candidates for New Jersey governor had their final face-to-face debate. And it came as the statistical race has tightened up. A new poll shows Gov. Jon Corzine holding a slim 39 to 36 lead over Republican opponent Chris Christie. And independent Chris Daggett is climbing in the polls, hitting the 20-percent mark for the first time. And when it came down to debating who is hardest hit by New Jersey’s soaring property taxes, Christie was the winner.”My wife and I pay about $38,000 in property taxes per year,” Christie said.

New Jersey is the highest tax state in the nation, but it was an eye-opening moment in the last debate in the gubernatorial race when the three candidates had to reveal how much they pay to live here.

corzine-debate“I pay something in the neighborhood of $35,000, maybe 36,” incumbent Jon Corzine said.

“My wife and I pay about $18,000,” independent Chris Daggett said.

And then they were off and running, arguing about the issue that is probably foremost in voters minds — how to get out from under New Jersey’s heavy tax burden.

“What our plan says is we have to control expenses at the municipal level. We have to have a hard cap on expenses and an audit of all school districts,” Christie said.

“I’m talking about putting a hard cap on municipal spending that is tied to the consumer price index. I want few exceptions to that cap,” Daggett said.

Corzine chose to attack both Daggett and Christie, who want to cut taxes on the rich.

“I won’t cut taxes on the very wealthy and corporation and insurance companies. That leads to pressure and rising taxes on the middle class and lower class families across New Jersey,” Corzine said.

The wide-ranging debate dealt with everything from the environment to funding for the arts. Corzine attempted to cash in on his support from President Barack Obama, mentioning the president numerous times.

“I’ll make sure we work with President Obama,” Corzine said.

The New Jersey voters go to the polls in just 12 days. The race is tight, and anything can happen.

Once regarded a long shot, Daggett made much of the fact that his underfunded, underdog campaign is picking up in the polls. He maintains all he needs is to hit 34 percent to win.

{CBS/USA Today/Noam Newscenter}