Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin wants to cut property taxes in half for most New Jersey senior citizens while also offering a plan to help seniors pay for health insurance and prescription drugs.
Coughlin’s proposal, StayNJ, would provide an income tax credit of 50% of the local property tax bill for New Jerseyans over age 65, capped at $10,000, with income limit as long as New Jersey is the principal residence.
“I’ve heard from people who have to sell the home they raised their children in, and leave the neighborhood they’ve lived in for thirty years, because they can’t afford to stay,” Coughlin said. “My plan, StayNJ, will mean that seniors have the freedom to plan a future in New Jersey with friends and loved ones they’ve spent a lifetime making memories with.”
If passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Phil Murphy – something that is hugely uncertain at this point – benefits of the Coughlin Plan would begin on January 1, 2025.
Senate President Nicholas Scutari said he’s ready to work with Coughlin “and sponsor legislation for meaningful property tax relief for seniors.”
“Affordability is the primary consideration in whether senior citizens can remain in their homes,’ he said. “I will explore any option that can help them stay in New Jersey and continue to enjoy our great state.”
Coughlin would establish a common application or StayNJ, ANCHOR or the Senior Freeze Program, with the state determining which one would result in the biggest savings.
Indicating support from the South Jersey delegation, Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald said he would co-sponsor Coughlin’s bill.
“StayNJ is a game changer for our seniors and their families,” stated Greenwald. “Too many seniors struggle to keep pace with rising costs while on fixed incomes. Seniors shouldn’t have to choose between staying close to their grandchildren and affording groceries or a night out. StayNJ will give our seniors the much needed relief they deserve.”
Lisa Swain (D-Fair Lawn), the Assembly Appropriations Committee chair, said New Jersey can afford to pay for Coughlin’s plan.
“We have spent five years getting our fiscal house in order,” she said. “We have carefully managed our expenses, and now we can make smart investments to move our state forward and think about making things more affordable.”
In separate legislation, Coughlin wants to eliminate the asset test for Medicare savings programs and increase income eligibility thresholds and cut average Medicare Savings Program benefit premiums by more than $2,200.
Another bill would raise income eligibility for the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled Program (PAAD) and Senior Gold Prescription Discount Program.