Issue Position: Economy & The Middle Class
Economy & The Middle Class
New Jerseyans from all walks of life are working hard to provide for their families, save for retirement and build a better life for their children. In these tough times, many families are struggling despite their willingness to work hard and reduce their own spending. I am working to help foster an economic recovery, with investments that create jobs and lay the foundation for long-term economic security, and tax relief for the middle class.
As someone who grew up in a poor, but hard-working family, I know how hard work and determination can lead to a better life -- that is the American Dream. Our economy should be one in which hard work and entrepreneurship are always rewarded. That is why I have always stood up for the rights of workers seeking better opportunities and an improved workplace and why I am working to ensure that all New Jersey families can achieve success.
* Alternative Minimum Tax relief -- Introduced and enacted into law as part of the 2009 economic recovery package a one-year fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax that threatened to unfairly and unexpectedly raise taxes on middle class taxpayers. New Jersey has been the state with the highest rate of taxpayers who would be subject to paying the higher Alternative Minimum Tax if no patch is passed. Before a patch was passed in the previous year, joint taxpayers earning $74,660 or more could have been subject to the paying the higher AMT. In total, more than 1.6 million New Jerseyans faced the higher tax during the previous year before the patch, and many of those were middle class taxpayers.
* Credit Card reform -- Author of major credit card reform legislation and lead collaborator on landmark 2009 reform enacted into law. Credit card reforms protect consumers from unilateral, unexpected interest rate increases; end the practice of unreasonable fees and penalties; and protect consumers under the age of 21, among other measures.
* Property tax relief -- Authored property tax relief legislation in 2006, which eventually was enacted into law in 2008. This benefits homeowners who do not itemize on their Federal tax returns. Under the law, single-filing property taxpayers will be able to take an additional standard deduction of $500 and joint filers will be able to deduct $1,000 for state and local property taxes paid. According to the New Jersey Department of Taxation, nearly 600,000 New Jersey residents benefit from the initiative.
* Financial literacy -- Authored financial literacy law, enacted as part of the landmark Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The provision fosters better financial education among prospective homeowners and help identify the most successful methods for delivering counseling services. The amendment allows states to use their administrative expenses to improve their financial education and housing counseling services and authorizes pilot projects to help determine the most effective methods for providing housing counseling and financial education.
* Energy efficiency -- Created the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants program as part of the 2007 energy bill. This program, funded with $3.2 billion in the 2009 economic recovery package, helps create jobs, provide local tax relief, ensure local services and clean the air we breathe. The grants invest in energy efficiency projects undertaken by cities, towns and counties. It lowers their energy costs and provides local budget relief.
* Liberty Corridor -- Congressional champion of Liberty Corridor project, having established it as a Project of National and Regional Significance and secured tens of millions of dollars in federal investment since 2005. An area of seven northeastern counties and one western county, the Liberty Corridor of New Jersey is where multi-modal transportation systems, such as ports, highways, airports, rail lines and research facilities, play a vital role in linking and nurturing an historic base economy of manufacturing and commerce with global implications.
* Middle class tax credits -- As a member of the Finance Committee, helped craft tax credits for up to $800 per middle class family. Included in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and enacted into law.