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Many Garden State residents began receiving money after Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Oct. 11 the second round of ANCHOR property tax relief payments. Some pro-democracy groups believe the timing was less than ideal.
“The question here has to do with whether or not folks are feeling like the checks so close to election day is an issue,” said Jesse Burns, the executive director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.
At 2.23 %, New Jersey’s effective tax rate is the highest in the country, according to the Tax Foundation’s analysis. Under the Affordable New Jersey Communities for Homeowners and Renters program, known as ANCHOR, most senior homeowners have received payments of $1,750, while older renters have collected $700, right before the Nov. 7 general election.
Heather Ferguson, director of state operations for the watchdog group Common Cause, said checks distributed 30 days before the election can lead to a public perception problem.
“Everyone needs to take a lot of caution in ensuring that the perception is not that there are different tactics being used for electioneering purposes or to influence the vote,” she said. “The perception of a move like this, to send money to voters in the 30 days just preceding an election could certainly raise some suspicions.”
Burns agreed. Even if the timing was well intentioned, it still dampens good will, she said.