by Phil Stilton
TRENTON-Today, New Jersey’s newspapers offered lawmakers a compromise on the proposed bill to eliminate the state mandate requiring towns to pay newspapers to publish public notices. Fortunately, according to published reports, Governor Chris Christie rejected the offer that would lower municipal advertising rates by 50%, but increase rates for private businesses.
In a story in today’s Asbury Park Press, Brian Murray, a spokesperson for the governor said the deal was unacceptable.
The APP reported: “Those private ads are paid for by poor people getting their houses foreclosed on and the costs of the legal notices passed directly on to them by the financial institutions,’’ Murray said. “Our proposal lifts that burden from those facing foreclosure while the NJPA proposes to increase their burden even further. It is no compromise; it just shifts the burden from the taxpayers to the citizens facing foreclosure.’’
The rate shift also equals nothing more than an additional tax on New Jersey businesses, many already reeling from a recent 23% gas tax increase. The newspaper industry’s proposal would ensure that at the end of the day, they don’t lose their government mandated revenues.
The bill, unlike previous attempts is expected to quickly move through the state house before reaching the Governor’s desk where he has indicated he will sign the measure into law.
If passed, newspapers, already on the decline nationwide would be faced with revenue shortfalls in the millions of dollars in 2017 and could lead to even more layoffs in an industry where commercial advertising has dropped off in favor online and social media based advertising.
Newspapers have long hailed themselves as the watchdogs of the public tax dollar, however when it comes to cutting their own taxpayer funded enterprise they abandoned their watchdogging.