Monday, August 8, 2011

NJ State and Local Updates

NJ Spotlight: Senate Democrats launch website that takes the measure of state aid under the Christie administration.  Chairman Wisniewski congratulated Senate President Sweeney on holding the Governor accountable for his cruel cuts to education funding with the launch of the new NJ Senate Democrats Education Funding Website. From the website: While Governor Christie likes to point out that many school districts have received more aid this year than last year, he's only telling you part of the story. In many cases, districts have lost millions in State support since Governor Christie came into office, and few have been funded at the level required under the school funding formula approved in 2008.

Education Law Center: When Governor Christie took his red pen to the Democrats’ FY12 State Budget, he removed full funding of the state school aid formula for the 2011-12 school year. As a result, 550 districts are now off-formula for the second straight year. While compelled by the NJ Supreme Court to fully fund the Abbott districts under the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA), the governor vetoed most of the additional aid the Democrats’ budget allocated to non-Abbott districts. The bulk of the additional school aid would have gone to mostly moderate- and middle-income districts in suburban and rural areas of the state -- districts that have repeatedly been denied the funding they are entitled to under the SFRA. The final budget provides only a small increase over 2010-11 aid levels: approximately 2% of each district’s 2009-10 total budget. This is far below the amount cut in 2010-11, and provides no increase to move districts towards adequacy, as required under the SFRA.

Christie's Charm Offensive Won't Work On Seniors  Star Ledger Editorial: "Seniors are smart. They know they were better off before he was elected. They know Christie's property tax relief cuts have made it tougher for them to stay in their homes, that he has protected millionaires over fixed-income residents. And they won't be fooled by the charm. Because with age comes wisdom."

More Flights Revealed in Coptergate Courier Post: State Police Aviation Unit records obtained late last week via a Courier-Post Open Public Records Act request show Christie actually flew on state helicopters 37 times between January 2010 and May 31, 2011, including a few trips to the governor's shore house. That's four more flights than the office released on June 2.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Remember Coptergate? Dems Do! Chairman Wisniewski reacted to the additional flights being revealed: “Chris Christie’s story continues to change as more information is exposed. A real straight talker would could come clean and not try to hide the truth.”

Following the latest revelations, Assemblywoman Quijano has asked Republican Assembly Minority Leader DeCroce again to sign on as a sponsor of legislation she has introduced prohibiting the use of state helicopters for personal and political events.

Assemblyman Moriarty expressed concern over the Governor's use of the helicopter.

Christie's Claims that Democrats Cut MVC Deemed FALSE: Politifact: PolitiFact New Jersey found that Christie was wrong about the budget cut -- nearly seven times wrong. In the wake of computer problems at Motor Vehicle Commission offices and other state agencies, Christie claimed the Democrats had cut $35 million for Information Technology improvements. We rate the statement False.

Chairman of the Assembly Transporation Committee Wisniewski reacted to Christie's claims: "There's more than enough money that the MVC generates every year to fund all of their technology needs so it's just a non-starter to say that we don't have the money..."

Following a hearing on the MVC delays, Senator Gordon said: “I did not hear anything that would allay the concerns of the MVC customer having to go tomorrow and not having to stand in a long line. I didn’t hear anything that would suggest that there will be an immediate fix to this. I heard about things that will be in place in September.” Gordon said he found it “hard to believe” that the $179 million the Christie administration had “diverted” from the agency’s coffers over the last two years did not have an impact on operations.

Senator Sarlo: "I don't know about all of you, but I have had no complaints from DMV until the last two years, until some of the significant budget cuts occurred. DMV was cleaned up."

Assemblyman Greenwald on Christie raiding motor vehicle funding: "If the Governor had wanted MVC to have additional funding for technology investments, he would have simply reduced the amount of the raid, rather than increasing it."

Assemblywoman Wagner: “Motorists across this state had become accustomed to brutal waits at motor vehicle agencies, until the reforms of decade ago changed that reality. Now, motor vehicle agencies are again a mess under Governor Christie."

NJDSC Women's StepUp training and Women's Equality Event  If you haven't signed up yet for this intensive, interactive one-day training for women with some of our region's leading political strategists, space is going fast. The New Jersey Democratic State Committee is proud to present our 5th Annual STEP-UP Democratic Women's Advanced Training on Saturday, August 13, 2011. for more information.

Please join the New Jersey Democratic State Committee for our 3rd Annual Women’s Equality Event honoring County Chairs Charlotte DeFilippo, Elizabeth Muoio, Marguerite Schaffer and Lois Zarish at the home of Marcia Marley on Thursday, August 25th from 6 to 8 pm. Contributions are $91 commemorating 91 years since women received the right to vote. To purchase tickets please click here or to RSVP or for more information, please email Heather at or call 609-392-3367. You can view the full invitation here.

Study: Taxes Don't Make NJ Millionaires Flee  Star Ledger: In each of the last two years, Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed Democratic bills to raise taxes on incomes over $1 million, saying it would drive wealthy people from the state. As it turns out, this is another suspect piece of conservative dogma. A new study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities deals several body blows to the governor’s theory.

New Jersey Newsroom: In the study, sociologists at Stanford University looked at the effect of New Jersey's 2004 tax increase on people making more than $500,000 per year. They found that while the number of people leaving the state in this income group increased very slightly after the tax increase went into effect, the number was insignificant because people unaffected by the new tax were moving at a similar rate. The end result was that the new tax rate produced a large increase in revenue for the state without prompting people to leave.

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