PRINCETON, NJ --Seeking to raise expectations for Governor Chris Christie’s State Budget Address on Feb. 21, AARP, on behalf of its 1.3 million New Jersey members, issued a call today for the full restoration of the Homestead Property Tax Credit, and to protect safety net programs for the very poor.

AARP New Jersey State President Dave Mollen is calling on Governor Christie to repair the holes in the social safety net. “In New Jersey we pay the highest property taxes in the nation. The average New Jersey property tax bill is up to $7,759 and consumes 10 percent or more of many low to moderate-income family’s yearly earnings.”

AARP contends that the next State Budget must make more progress in restoring property tax relief, specifically restoring the Homestead Credit to pre-Christie Administration levels.

A recent poll conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute indicated 69 percent of respondents said that reducing property taxes should be a higher priority than reducing the income tax, which Christie has recently proposed as a solution to the state’s economic downfall.

AARP is calling for safety net programs to be retained and restored including long-term care services such as the Global Options program, pharmaceutical assistance programs PAAD and Senior Gold, and the Family Care program. Mollen said, “Many low and middle income families depend on these programs to survive. It is imperative that all citizens have access to proper health care, nutrition, and can afford to live securely in their homes. No citizen should be deprived of these basic necessities.”

AARP noted that seniors sacrificed in 2010 when the Senior Property Tax Freeze (PTR) and the Homestead Credit were cut back dramatically.