Rep. Josh Gottheimer has become synonymous with the term “claw back” in his efforts to lower the cost for North Jersey towns and taxpayers since he was first elected in 2016.
“My father always said if you don’t ask, you don’t get,” Gottheimer said. “I realized that the more of our federal tax dollars that we got back to Jersey, the less our towns had to charge in local taxes—and I’m all about lowering taxes and making life more affordable—which meant more jobs and more people staying in Jersey….There is nothing partisan about this. This is just about working together to help families.”
As a natural extension of those efforts, Gottheimer hosted the inaugural Claw Back Summit Feb. 10 at Bergen Community College for municipalities, local officials, first responders, local organizations, and residents looking to get more federal investment back to their communities.
Fighting Moocher States
“We must continue to work together to claw more of our federal tax dollars back to Jersey…the Moocher States got lots of relief on their state, local, and property taxes — and we paid retail,” said Gottheimer during his opening remarks. “We are happy to work with you and your town administrators to help you apply and then fight to get the dollars back here.”
The goal of the summit, according to Gottheimer, was to help attendees learn more about navigating the federal grant process — from pre-application screenings to obtaining letters of support, cutting through red tape, and questions about any applications or federal grant investment.
Lowering Property Taxes
The all-day gathering included featured presentations from representatives of the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grants program, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and their Rural Development grant program, the Law Enforcement Support Office 1033 Program, and the General Services Administration. The program ended with local leaders from Bergen, Passaic and Sussex counties telling their stories of how the federal grants made North Jersey more affordable.
Gottheimer promoted that he has helped claw back 357% more federal tax dollars back from Washington and Moocher States such as West Virginia and Mississippi since taking office. For 2021 alone, the federal tax dollars returned to the 5th Congressional District amounts to an average savings of more than $750 for each household.
“These federal investments help to lower our local property taxes, make our communities safer, and make life more affordable,” he said. “We all need to work together to ensure we’re getting the strongest return on investment.”
Gottheimer noted that his approach has been different from the man he replaced seven years ago.
“North Jersey, in my congressional District, didn’t ask and didn’t fight for federal grants, whether that was for a fire truck, an ambulance, police radios, or bollards to protect a church or synagogue,” he said. “My predecessor didn’t believe in this approach, so we were leaving gobs of federal grants, equipment, and other dollars on the table every year for the simple reason that we weren’t applying. And someone was taking them. It’s not like those dollars disappeared.”
“After I took office, I decided it was time we stood up to the Moochers States and started working together — mayors, councils, first responders, nonprofits — to apply for more grants and get them back here, where they belong, to protect our families and communities.”
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