TRENTON, N.J. -- Top Democratic lawmakers say they've come up with a tentative deal that would allow the majority of senior citizens in New Jersey to have their property taxes cut in half.
It now means a threat of a government shutdown no longer looms over the state.
People are fleeing the Garden State, according to a recent moving company survey and census data. Many senior citizens say increasing rents and high property taxes are why they're being pushed out.
"I was thinking of leaving, myself, putting my house up. It's just at the end of the month, there is nothing left. It is very hard to get by," one Clark resident said.
"Too expensive, really too expensive. I don't get any raises from my state pension," said Diane Johnson, also of Clark.
New Jersey Senate President Nick Scutari told CBS2 he and other top Democrats, who control the Legislature, along with Gov. Phil Murphy, have agreed to a revised plan to bring direct property tax relief to senior citizens in the state.
"Anybody making less than $500,000 would be eligible for up to 50% of their property tax bill cut in half, up to a $6,500 credit," Scutari said.
The proposed program, called STAYNJ, was initially criticized for benefitting the wealthy. But Democrats now say those over 65 earning $500,000 or more won't be eligible.
Republicans like Sen. Holly Schepisi say seniors need help but add the price tag for the plan, which would be implemented in 2026, is likely several billion dollars.
"Whoever the next governor of the state of New Jersey will be will actually have to be the one to try to figure out how to fund this and ensure it is something viable," Schepisi said.
Seniors who rent are now included in the plan and could get $250 in addition to what they receive from other programs, like ANCHOR and Senior Freeze.
The Senior Citizens Council of Union County says before moving forward, all of the programs need to be aligned so it's less confusing.
"We are going to make sure that we put a significant amount of resources into implementation of the program, then streamlining the programs we already have in place," Scutari said.
The plan would still have to go through a Senate and an Assembly committee and then be passed by the full Legislature, and that has to happen before July 1.
Democrats say they still don't have an exact number for what STAYNJ will cost the state.