Here is who will be leading StayNJ, the state's property tax rebate task force

(from left) Gov. Phil Murphy shakes hands with Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin as Senate President Nick Scutari looks on before Murphy's budget address at the New Jersey Statehouse on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023.

State leaders announced the six people who will lead a task force to implement the StayNJ initiative. Members of the new group will be responsible for creating a plan to implement the property tax relief plan that is supposed to launch in 2026.

The program was created as part of the 2024 fiscal year budget process in an effort to cut property tax bills for seniors in the hopes of keeping them in New Jersey during their retirement years.

Who will serve on the StayNJ task force?

Gov. Phil Murphy, Senate President Nick Scutari and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin each appointed a member to the StayNJ task force. Scutari and Coughlin also shared a joint appointment. The task force is rounded out by representatives from the state Treasury and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

The members include:

  • The State Treasurer, or the State Treasurer’s designee: Deputy State Treasurer Aaron Binder

  • The Commissioner of Community Affairs, or the commissioner’s designee: Dr. Christopher Wheeler, Chief Data Officer, NJDCA

  • One public member appointed by the Governor, who may be an Executive Branch employee: Chief Policy Advisor Dennis Zeveloff, Office of the Governor

  • One public member recommended by the Senate President: Jessica Cohen, former Director of Public Policy for the Senate President

  • One public member recommended by the Assembly Speaker: Woodbridge Mayor and former State Treasurer John E. McCormac

  • One public member jointly recommended by the Senate President and the Assembly Speaker: Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp

What did Gov. Phil Murphy say?

Murphy said that the members of the task force “bring a wealth of public policy experience to the table, particularly when it comes to the impact property taxes have on our local communities.”

“We need to ensure this program launches smoothly with a seamless application process and benefit distribution,” Coughlin said.

The task force will review all of the State’s existing property tax relief programs and present a report to the governor and the Legislature by the end of May. The report will include recommendations on how to restructure and consolidate the various programs into one streamlined property tax relief program for seniors through a singular application, with a target implementation date of January 1, 2026.

Murphy also announced that former Director of the Office of Management and Budget David Ridolfino will be the executive director of the task force.

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Dominated spring headlines

The program dominated headlines this spring after Coughlin first introduced a version of it in his chamber. Scutari joined him by introducing a companion bill in the state senate.

Murphy was not initially on board with the program. He said at the time that there are a few things about the bill that are concerning, with the "biggest one" being the expense added to the budget, where "we've got revenues that are softening already," and another being that it "would be for everybody," so even millionaires like Murphy would get a break.

The governor’s office was said to be preparing for all possibilities, including a government shutdown, though the governor himself noted that he has a great relationship with Coughlin and the Legislature overall and that both sides are "focused on seniors and making the state more affordable."

After negotiations, the bill was amended to include the expansion of the Senior Freeze program, which Murphy included in his proposed budget for fiscal year 2024. The expansion of eligibility would include seniors earning up to $150,000, a $50,000 increase, and would decrease the residency requirement from 10 years to three years. It remains in the new agreement.

The program is expected to cost about $1.3 billion and with a "significant focus on equity." The program includes around $140 million being set aside in fiscal years 2024 and 2025. The state is expected to set aside about $100 million, $200 million and $300 million for each of the next three years respectively.

There are funding caveats included for other budget priorities, though, including a full pension payment, fully fund school aid payments and maintaining a large surplus.

Katie Sobko covers the New Jersey Statehouse. Email: sobko@northjersey.com

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: StayNJ property tax program task force nominees named