To some, gossip is more important than fact.

There are always going to be some people who believe that "Navy SEALS blew up the World Trade Center, that WMD's were in Iraq, or that Anna Nicole married for love."  And it's the same with some of the gossip that gets tossed around about the tax restructuring proposal being worked out between the Democrats, who control both chambers of the Legislature, and the Republicans, who hold the Governor's office for another 16 months.

 

The latest was published by Hamptonian Tris Tristram, a prolific letter writer to the New Jersey Herald.  Tristram has found something to complain about with the portion of the proposal that would eliminate state taxes on the retirement income of most retirees in Sussex County.  According to the State Treasurer's office, the average retiree in Sussex County would see a $2,500 savings on his or her income tax. 

 

In his letter to the Herald, Tristram wrote: "Raising the 'no tax' threshold to $100,000 leads me to the cynical conclusion that this arbitrary number was reached because law makers and their cronies will be receiving pensions around that amount in the not too distant future (if not already doing so), thus cheating the state out of this needed revenue."

 

In fact, the threshold wasn't "arbitrary" but was calculated to make New Jersey more competitive against other states that have been luring away middle class and wealthy retirees.  As any financial planner will tell you, New Jersey is one of the worst places to live as a retired person in America.  Anyone who understands basic economics knows the consequences that face New Jersey, which is suffering from an outflow of wealth, while at the same time those moving into the state (including illegals) are often dependent on government services.

 

And no, lawmakers do not receive public pensions.  That is a LIE repeated over and over again, endlessly, by people who deal in gossip instead of FACTS.

 

Here are the FACTS.  The LAST legislator who was eligible for a state pension in Sussex County was Gary Chiusano.  And while we know that this must be hard for self-confessed "cynics" like Tris Tristram to believe, Gary Reagan Chiusano TURNED IT DOWN!!!  That's right all you cynics out there.  Your neighbor, Gary Chiusano, voluntarily turned down being grandfathered into the state pension system. Senator Steve Oroho does not get a state pension.  Assemblyman Parker Space does not get a state pension.  Assemblywoman Gail Phoebus does not get a state pension.  So the premise of this "cynical conclusion" is plain, old-fashioned bullshit.

 

This is the irresponsible way of the gossip.  Find any WMD's yet?  No?  Don't worry, when the facts don't suit you, just make them up and invade.  After the war is over, after the billions have been spent and all those dead boys and girls and all those arms and legs missing, you can always explain away the harm you did by chalking it all up to "whoops".

 

For anyone planning to continue to reside in New Jersey after they retire, the portion of the tax restructuring proposal that eliminates the tax on retirement income is a must.  But the only way it happens is if there's a compromise between the Democrats, who control both chambers of the Legislature, and the Republicans, who hold the Governor's office for another 16 months.

 

Time is running out.