It should come as no surprise that politics was at play at the State House on Thursday just days before the Nov. 3 election in which all 80 seats in the Assembly are on the line.

Dems Vs. GOP (Kevin McArdle, NJ 101.5)

Leading Republicans had a press conference to blast Democrats. The GOP Assembly members said New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes were the state’s top issue. They accused Democrats of ignoring the problem. The top Democrat said Republicans were the obstructionists when it came to property tax relief.

“If this (property taxes) is the most important issue in the state, what are they (Democrats) going to do to change it? So far they’ve said nothing. When are you going to answer the taxpayers? What is your plan to change the direction of this state,” asked Assembly GOP Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield).

A no tax pledge was recently signed by Bramnick and almost every other Republican in the Assembly. He said Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus) did not sign the pledge. In a phone interview, Prieto said he didn’t need to sign a pledge because he knows property taxes and other taxes are a big problem and he was constantly working on solutions.

“We have had a lot plans and we’ve put them forward and they (Republicans) have repeatedly voted against them. They have repeatedly voted to protect millionaires and not help the middle class that has been crushed,” Prieto said.

Increasing the income taxes paid by millionaires has been rejected by GOP lawmakers on multiple occasions. Gov. Chris Christie has also vetoed the tax hike every time it has reached his desk.

Republicans have opposed a 20 percent property tax credit and voted against fully funding schools to lower property taxes, Prieto explained. He said the only thing Republicans have consistently voted for is tax cuts for millionaires.

“The lacking of thinking at all by our friends across the (political) aisle on these tax issues particularly property taxes is stunning,” said Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon.

Republicans said they would like to tackle the property tax issue by eliminating huge end-of-career payouts to public employees for their unused sick and vacation days, reforming public workers’ pension system and retooling the school funding formula.

“I’m always here and ready and willing to talk to my Republican friends anytime they’d like,” Prieto said.