But the plan proposed by Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) "might not be a bad idea," Christie told a town-hall meeting in Ocean Township.
Sweeney wants to offer taxpayers the equivalent of a 10 percent property-tax cut: Those who earn $250,000 or less a year can take an income-tax credit of up to $1,000 based on their property-tax bill.
"It's not complex," Sweeney said at a news conference. "It's taking numbers that the governor says are available and putting them on the tax that's the most pressing tax to the people of New Jersey - the property tax, not the income tax."
Christie said that all the tax-cut talk in the state capital proved he had "turned Trenton upside down."
In a radio interview on New Jersey 101.5 FM, Christie said Sweeney's proposal was essentially an income-tax credit, so he was glad the two were on the same page.
Later, at the town-hall meeting, he sounded optimistic that he and Sweeney could find a compromise.
"I'm at 10 percent, he's at 10 percent; I cut rates, he gives you a credit," he said. "Looks like we've got someplace to work here. Here's the one thing I know for sure: You're going to get tax relief in 2012 because we're now agreeing on cutting taxes in Trenton."
Although recent polls have shown that most New Jerseyans agree with Democrats that they want property-tax relief more than an income-tax cut, Christie has seized the tax-cut narrative and is running the show, said Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University.
"The governor once again was able to control the agenda by blindsiding the Democratic leadership," she said. "It is kind of endemic for the Democrats that they are countering with numerous proposals, many of which don't stand a chance of being put into action."
The "millionaire's tax" is going nowhere, so the Assembly's proposal is simply a Democratic effort to "shore up their base by reminding people that they're looking out for working-class and middle-class people," she said.
Democrats should have united behind one proposal, she said, and Sweeney should have found a better way to articulate his plan. Instead, Christie again grabbed the microphone and declared victory.
The median income in New Jersey averaged $65,173 from 2008 to 2010, according to census figures. The average property-tax bill in 2011 was $7,759, among the highest in the nation, according to the state.
It is still unclear whether any of the plans is fully viable.
Christie's tax cut would cost $183 million of his proposed $32.1 billion budget, which would take effect July 1. He has projected a 7.3 percent growth in revenues in 2013, a figure some believe is overly optimistic.
"I haven't spoken to an economist who believes that that rate of growth is going to be seen in New Jersey in the next two years," Harrison said.
Sweeney based his figures on an annual 5 percent increase in income-tax revenues for the next four years. The average annual income-tax revenue growth in the state over the last 25 years has been 6.1 percent, he said.
Sweeney's plan would apply to at least 1.7 million taxpayers, but he says it can be paid for by simply withholding additional tax cuts for higher earners.
Although Christie talked about Sweeney's plan as if it were virtually the same as his own, the plans differ greatly in who would benefit the most.
Under Christie's plan, which, like the two Democratic plans, would be implemented over the next four years, households making $50,000 would receive an $80 income tax cut, those making $100,000 would receive a $275 cut, and those making $250,000 would receive a cut of almost $1,200, once fully phased in.
A millionaire, if Christie's plan is fully implemented, would receive a cut of more than $7,000.
In contrast, neither Democratic plan offers any additional tax relief to those making more than $250,000.
Although his proposed tax benefits would be doled out based on actual property-tax bills, Sweeney estimated what a "typical credit" would be for residents at various income levels, based on state data.
Under Sweeney's plan, once fully implemented, households with an income of $50,000 would likely receive a $600 credit, those earning $100,000 would receive an $800 credit, and those earning $250,000 would get a $1,000 credit annually.
The Assembly plan would double Sweeney's proposed credits and pay for it by raising income taxes on those earning more than $1 million annually.
The income tax rate for these top earners would increase to 10.75 percent from 8.97 percent, raising an additional $800 million from an estimated 16,000 taxpayers, according to the Assembly's numbers.
Asked why the Assembly would bother putting forward a tax increase that Christie has vetoed twice, Tom Hester Jr., a spokesman for the Assembly Majority Office, said: "It's the right thing to do to ensure fairness and provide real, reliable, and responsible property-tax relief for middle-class families. The governor is going to have to again decide whether he supports middle-class tax relief or tax cuts for millionaires."
Competing N.J. Tax-Cut Plans
A 10 percent income-tax credit on the first $10,000 of property-tax bills, or up to $1,000 when fully phased in over four years. Only households earning up to $250,000 would be eligible.
The plan would double the Senate credit and pay for it by raising the income tax on those earning $1 million or more. The tax rate for these estimated 16,000 top earners would rise to 10.75 from 8.97 percent, raising an additional $800 million.
An across-the-board, 10 percent income-tax cut would be phased in over four years. When fully implemented, the plan would give households making $50,000 an $80 income- tax cut, those making $100,000 a cut of $275, those making $250,000 a cut of almost $1,200, and those with incomes of $1 million a cut of more than $7,000.
- Joelle Farrell
Contact Joelle Farrell at 856-779-3237 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @joellefarrell.