For foes of higher taxes, the forecast doesn’t look good in New Jersey: Garden State Governor Phil Murphy has signed “rain tax” legislation into law. The new bill, which the state house approved earlier this year, will create local or regional “storm water utilities” which would assess and levy taxes against homes and businesses that impact rain water runoff from storms. Now that it is signed, municipalities will be able to charge homeowners with non-permeable driveways like concrete or asphalt and commercial buildings with parking lots with the extra tax. “With all the salt that we’ve had on roads recently, that’s all running into the sewer systems. So you can’t ignore problems because they don’t go away,” Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) recently told reporters.
The bill, which has earned the moniker as the “Rain Tax Bill”, provides each of the state’s 565 municipalities with the power to set up a public stormwater utility to deal with pollutant-filled stormwater runoff. State authorities say to build the infrastructure to handle stormwater runoff would cost “billions”. The new tax would also help pay for non-rain related projects; the bill allows the state to take 5% of fees collected to use for state endeavors.
New Jersey isn’t the first state to employ such a tax. In 2010, President Obama’s EPA ordered states that had run-off into the Chesapeake Bay to cut sediment pollution. As a result, Maryland imposed an unpopular “rain tax” to fund the endeavor in 2012. Angry voters supported Larry Hogan (R) ’s promise to repeal the tax, giving him a healthy victory in 2014.
New Jersey residents have been vocal about the new legislature. “He’s a horrible tool with no regard for families living in New Jersey,” wrote Cristin McCathy Krokosz. Bill Cook wrote, ” I hope Murphy drowns in all his taxes. This is ridiculous! He needs to leave office.” Not everyone believes the tax is bad. “This is a good tax,” wrote Pedra O’Reilly Del Vechio. “Hopefully it will encourage people to leave permeable surfaces and manage runoff.”
New Jersey is no stranger to taxes; it is one of the most taxed states in America. Of states that charge a sales tax, New Jersey now ranks as the 8th highest. For income tax, New Jersey is the 6th highest. For property taxes, New Jersey has the highest in the nation.