Monday, July 30, 2012

Speaker Oliver Praises Bipartisan Approval of Constitutional Amendment

(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) on Monday praised the bipartisan approval of a constitutional amendment that would further protect taxpayers and the solvency of the state’s employee pension systems. 
The Assembly approved the measure (SCR-110) by a vote of 62 to 3 (see attached vote tally) shortly after the Senate granted approval, setting the stage for the constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot in November allowing voters to decide if judges should contribute the same amount to their pensions and benefits as other state employees are now required to do under the new reform law passed last year.
“The landmark pension and benefit reform law enacted last year was ultimately designed to bring stability to our pension systems and relief to taxpayers.
“The recent Supreme Court ruling threatened to undermine these goals, something this ballot measure will ensure does not happen.
“The growing insolvency of our pension systems has made it clear that we cannot continue to operate as we have for decades.
“This is not about penalizing judges.  This measure will create fairness within our new system while maintaining the historical, democratically-held belief that the Judiciary should be free from political interference.
“Public approval of this ballot measure will ensure that everyone contributes equally to a fiscally responsible plan that will help shore up our pension systems,” said Oliver.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Message from Senator Menendez

<>Dear Mr. Green:
It was an extraordinary pleasure to have risen on the Senate floor Monday afternoon to strongly support the nomination of Judge Michael Shipp for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.  Judge Shipp's strong qualifications and reputation for excellence make him an exceptional candidate for the federal bench.  Judge Shipp is an accomplished jurist with impressive credentials.  With tremendous pride, I recommended Judge Shipp to President Obama and I urged all of my colleagues in the Senate to support his nomination.   Today I am proud to report that Judge Shipp was confirmed with a vote of 91 to 1 to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.  
With almost five years experience as a federal magistrate judge for the District of New Jersey, Judge Shipp is well prepared to assume a seat as a federal district judge.  As a magistrate, he has successfully managed significant and complex cases. On occasion, Judge Shipp has served as the district court judge in cases with magistrate jurisdiction.
Michael Shipp is an accomplished jurist, experienced prosecutor, dedicated public servant, and an effective administrator and manager. The first eight years of his distinguished legal career were spent in the litigation department at the law firm of SkaddenArps, Slate, MeagherFlom.  In 2003, he turned to public service to give something back to the community as an Assistant Attorney General for Consumer Protection in the Office of the Attorney General of New Jersey.  Here he honed his expertise in consumer fraud, insurance fraud, and securities fraud cases.  Not only did Judge Shipp excel, he was twice promoted within the Office, first as Liaison to the Attorney General, and second as Counsel to the Attorney General. In his capacity as Counsel, he was in charge of day-to-day operations of the Department of Law and Public Safety, a department with over 10,000 employees and 800 attorneys.
Not surprisingly, Judge Shipp has not stayed on the sidelines – even with a full plate, he has always been deeply involved in the legal community in helping address the profession's needs and concerns.  As many of you well know, he held a leadership role with the New Jersey State Bar Association, and is actively involved with the Garden State Bar Association.  As a faculty member of Seton Hall University School of Law's Summer Institute for Pre-Legal Studies, he helped disadvantaged students develop their interest in the law and served on the faculty of the New Jersey Attorney General's Advocacy Institute, which ensures that attorneys representing the State of New Jersey maintain the highest possible levels of professionalism.
A proud New Jerseyan, Judge Shipp is a very active member of the community with deep roots in our great State.  A native of Paterson, he has lived in New Jersey all of his life.  He earned his degrees from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; and Seton Hall University School of Law.  Desiring to remain in New Jersey for his clerkship, Judge Shipp was fortunate enough upon graduation to secure a clerkship for the Honorable James Coleman, a Justice on the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
When the decision came to recommend Judge Shipp to President Obama, his principle, excellent judicial temperament, extraordinary legal experience and a deep and abiding commitment to the rule of law made him the extraordinary choice.  I have full confidence that he will serve the people of New Jersey with all the dignity, fairness, and honor that he has shown throughout his extraordinary career.
We are lucky to have a jurist of this caliber, and I wholeheartedly congratulate the Judge as he begins his service as a District Judge for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Benson: Apply Megan’s Law to Halfway House Residents

(HAMILTON) – Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex) released the following statement Tuesday after the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee upon which he sits held a Monday hearing on public safety concerns surrounding halfway houses overseen by the Christie administration:

“The testimony we heard Monday was troubling on many levels, but I was especially concerned about what we heard about sex offenders being released into halfway houses without community notification.
“Megan’s Law requires community notification for released sex offenders so we can better protect our children with knowledge and precaution, but apparently notification is not happening when sex offenders are placed into halfway homes because those facilities are still part of the state corrections system.
“We need to close this gaping chasm in our community notification system.
“Though we never got a clear answer, we heard testimony on Monday that seemed to suggest as much as 15 percent of residents escape from their halfway houses. It’s chilling to think that some of these could be sex offenders and yet the community had no prior notification of their presence simply because they were in a halfway house.
“Sex offenders should not be placed into halfway homes until they are tiered, and once there they should face the same community notification requirements as those released from the corrections system. That’s common sense.
“I’m going to research this issue more and develop legislation as soon as possible to correct this problem.”

Monday, July 23, 2012

Prieto on Jobs Numbers: Governor Should Stop Burying His Head in the Sand, There’s More Work to be Done

(TRENTON) – Assembly Budget Committee Chair Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson) on Thursday pointed to the continued rise in New Jersey’s unemployment rate  as a sign that there is still more work to be done to pull the state firmly out of the lingering recession. 
Prieto noted that today’s announcement that New Jersey’s unemployment rate has risen from 9.2 to 9.6 percent, is the highest the state’s jobless rate has been in roughly two years.
“Despite a number of private sector job gains, our unemployment rate continues to rise and remain well above the national average.
“This is especially troubling since the biggest gains came in the area of leisure and hospitality, which typically employ temporary, seasonal workers this time of year.
“And it’s all the more disconcerting because the Governor has vetoed dozens of jobs bills we’ve passed over the last two years while falsely trumpeting a ‘Jersey Comeback.’  Repeating something ad nauseam doesn’t make it reality.
“Instead of yelling at everyone to ‘get the hell off the beach,’ he should stop burying his head in the sand.  There’s more work to be done,” said Prieto.

Mainor Opening Statement at Halfway House Hearing

(TRENTON) – Assembly Law and Public Safety Chairman Charles Mainor released the following statement Monday as his committee began a hearing on a troubling lack of oversight at halfway houses operating under the Christie administration’s Department of Corrections:

Good morning everybody and welcome to today’s meeting of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
“We’re here today for a very important reason – the troubling lack of oversight and accountability at halfway houses operating under the Department of Corrections.
“We’ve all seen the news reports detailing escapes, gang activity, drugs and sexual abuse at these facilities.
“And we’ve learned of the tragic consequences.
“These reports raise serious questions about the Christie administration’s ability to properly oversee these facilities.
“No one disagrees with the intention of helping people re-enter society as productive citizens.
“But when escapes, gang activity, drugs and sexual abuse are widespread, something is terribly wrong and unacceptable.
“Public safety is paramount, as should be the welfare of employees and inmates trying to make their lives better, but something seems to have fallen by the wayside.
“We are prepared to take whatever legislative action is necessary to remedy these problems.
“And I expect Gov. Christie and his administration to fully cooperate with our efforts.
“In fact, this matter especially deserves close scrutiny in light of Gov. Christie’s indefensible line-item vetoes of stricter halfway house oversight.
“The longer we allow this system to continue as-is unchecked, the more we jeopardize the safety and well-being of the public at large.
“The public deserves a better understanding of the conditions at these facilities, how they’re operated and what needs to be done to improve them so that everyone’s safety – the community, staff and inmates – is protected.
“When escapes, gang activity, drugs and sexual abuse are widespread at these facilities and yet Gov. Christie still opposes improved oversight, something is terribly wrong and unacceptable.”

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Romney Supporters Think You're Stupid

Last week, Mitt Romney held a Hamptons fundraiser with the uber-conservative Koch billionaires, the same brothers who begged Governor Christie to run for President last fall. The Kochs and supporters like them have vowed to spend $1 Billion targeting President Obama and Democrats this fall, and some of their Super PAC money WILL be spent in New Jersey this fall.  We’re going to need your help to fight back and make sure Democrats are heard!  Can we count on you to give $100, $75, or even $35?

At the Hamptons fundraiser, one donor summed up how the Kochs and people like them feel about Americans outside the 1%: “I just think if you're lower income -- one, you're not as educated, two, they don't understand how it works, they don't understand how the systems work, they don't understand the impact.”   Simply put: if you’re a member of the working or middle class, Romney donors think you’re stupid.  But we know better.   The Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, Tea Party Agenda hurts working and middle class families, and we’ve got to stop them.   

The choice in this election is clear: Democrats are fighting for middle and working class families… Mitt Romney and Republicans are fighting for wealthy Americans who look down at the rest of us.   We need the resources to fight back, to make sure that we can help re-elect President Obama and Senator Menendez, and elect a Democratic majority to the House of Representatives.  Can you give $100, $75, or even $35?

Thank you,

P.S.  We all wanted to see some fireworks last week, but Governor Christie’s explosion on the Seaside Heights Boardwalk was not on the schedule.   New Jersey’s working and middle class families deserve a governor who will fight for them, instead of fighting with them.  Help us show him the door in 2013!  Give $100, $75, or $35 to help us build the infrastructure to take him on next year!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Jersey Democratic State Committee's week in review

As New Jerseyans gather together to celebrate Independence Day, we should all remember and celebrate those who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice in order to protect that independence. We thank the American patriots, from the Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration and overthrew tyranny, to the brave men and women who serve in our Armed Forces today. We are grateful for their service, which has protected our freedom and independence for 236 years.

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Christie Vetoes Hit Women and the Working Poor

•Governor Christie, still sulking about losing another opportunity to cut taxes for the wealthy, took his anger out on the citizens who are struggling most. In the budget sent from the legislature, Democrats had restored the Earned Income Tax Credit, which Christie had eliminated two years ago. Christie removed the tax credit with his line item veto, making it clear that unless the very rich get a tax cut too, the working poor will have to go without one.

•Planned Parenthood took note of the governor's veto of women's health care funding, making it the 4th time in 3 years that Christie has cut funding for women's health.

•Guess who else bore the brunt of his anger: a reporter last week at a press conference and a New Jersey resident this week on the Seaside Boardwalk. The way that our governor comports himself is an embarrassment to the office he holds and the people of this state.

Christie Preens for National Republicans in Special Session

•Following Christie's veto, he abused his constitutional authority on Saturday to call for a special legislative session on Monday July 2. Christie gave legislators the bare minimum 48 hour notice to call the session.

•Once the legislature convened, the Governor proceeded to lecture Democrats on why they should heed his calls to pass his tax cut, signalling that even he doesn't believe his revenue numbers will come in as optimistically as predicted. He's fine with locking our children into future debt if it means he can borrow millions to pay for a tax cut that will score him political points.

•We know the real reason Christie is pushing for a tax cut now: he wants to be able to talk about it in Tampa at the Republican National Convention.

•New Jersey Democrats aren't going to allow the governor to borrow millions of dollars for a tax cut to bolster his standing with Mitt Romney et al. We're not going to apologize for looking out for New Jersey's future instead of the governor's.

Congressional Corner

•Senator Frank Lautenberg and Senator Bob Menendez announced investment in transportation services for Morris County veterans.

•Senator Bob Menendez also announced more than $5.9 million in federal investments to expand access to affordable health care and bolster local public safety efforts.

•Congressman Steve Rothman helped rededicate the post office in Little Ferry, NJ to honor of the memory of Marine Sergeant Matthew J. Fenton.

•Congressman Albio Sires issued a statement in honor of Independence Day.

 Under the Dome

•Assemblyman John Wisniewski reminded New Jersey that Governor Christie has been a hypocrite on tax relief.

•Senator Richard Codey gave Governor Christie a C- on his speech this week.

•Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman criticizes the Governor for seeking the spotlight while doing little to help working class families.

•Senator Jim Beach's legislation to protect custody and parental rights for deployed service members passed the Senate last week.

•Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver says that time and again Governor Christie has failed on tax relief.

•Senate President Steve Sweeney called the Governor's special session political theater to boost Christie's national profile.

•Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald released a video responding to Governor Christie's speech.

•Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg noted that the Governor continues to veto a tax on incomes above a million dollars, which would have helped offset middle class property tax relief.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Christie protects 'mega-rich' at expense of middle-class taxpayers

By Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald
Let's start with the truth.

Democrats approved tripling property tax relief funding and helping the middle-class and seniors under the
Homestead Benefit Program. Gov. Christie vetoed it.

Democrats approved fully funding suburban and rural schools. Gov. Christie vetoed it.

Democrats approved boosting property tax relief for senior citizens. Gov. Christie vetoed it.

Democrats approved income tax relief for working poor families. Gov. Christie vetoed it.

Democrats approved legislation to help low-income New Jerseyans needing legal services. Gov. Christie vetoed it.

Democrats approved helping women obtain quality health care. Gov. Christie vetoed it.

Gov. Christie’s war on New Jersey’s middle-class marches onward. The governor’s mania to protect tax cuts for the mega-rich over property tax relief for the middle-class and senior citizens is appalling. We gave the governor one more chance to help beleaguered homeowners across this state and once again he failed miserably.

Monday’s speech was a blatant attempt by the governor to distract from his opposition to middle-class New Jerseyans. The governor has made his choice – he will protect the mega-rich to the detriment of middle-class taxpayers.

In his desperation to deliver tax cuts to the wealthy during his audition for the vice presidency, Gov. Christie has put his own political ambitions ahead of New Jersey's middle class.  

As he spouts distortions and slogans, the governor cannot escape the facts: he keeps protecting huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires while property taxes in New Jersey just keep rising. Democrats wanted to correct that injustice but Gov. Christie simply wants to prolong it.

Democrats are not about to make the same mistake Republicans made with Gov. Whitman and President Bush by passing tax cuts that cannot be paid for and contributed to economic turmoil.

But what the governor did highlight was his continued opposition to middle-class and senior citizen property tax relief, even as he’s overseen a net 20 percent property tax hike. That is not the message New Jerseyans want to hear, especially from a governor breaking his promise to fully restore property tax relief. Support for millionaires and opposition to property tax relief is not what New Jerseyans wanted when they elected Gov. Christie.

Democrats have sent the governor tax relief and this governor has repeatedly vetoed it. Just on Friday he vetoed a plan to increase income tax relief for the working poor. And on Monday he vetoed a plan to triple property tax relief funding under the state’s existing property tax relief credit program. The plan would have helped middle-class and senior citizens, but the governor would have none of it.

And Democrats have agreed to give additional tax relief if the revenues are there, but let’s be clear - Gov. Christie has presided over a 9.2 percent unemployment rate, a gross domestic product ranking 47th among the states and revenue collections that have consistently come in below projections. An additional 1,000 jobs were lost last week when Roche announced it was leaving the state.

Time and time again Gov. Christie has failed when it comes to tax relief and helping working class residents. Tax relief is not something that should be subject to Gov. Christie's political theater and misleading statements.
Gov. Christie, enough with the theatrics. Enough with the tax breaks for the uber-rich. Enough with the opposition to middle-class property tax relief.

Democrats have given Gov. Christie numerous chances to prove his tax-cutting worth, and Gov. Christie has failed over and over again. Actions speak louder than words, and the actions prove this governor has overseen a net 20 percent property tax hike while rejecting middle-class property tax relief and vetoing income tax relief for the working poor.

Again, actions speak louder than words, and Gov. Christie’s actions prove real middle-class tax relief is not his real priority.

Louis D. Greenwald is a Democrat who is the Assembly Majority Leader and represents the 6th Legislative District in Camden County.

Singleton, Burzichelli, Gusciora Measure Updating Placard Requirements for Individuals with Disabilities to Cut Down on Abuses Approved by Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblymen Troy Singleton, John J. Burzichelli and Reed Gusciora sponsored to add an extra layer of verification to the process of issuing and renewing person with a disability identification placards used by motorists to access disabled parking has been approved by the Assembly and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.
“Instances of abuse involving person with a disability parking tags were first brought to my attention by a concerned constituent with a severe disability who had firsthand experience with the problem,” said Singleton (D-Burlington).  “After listening to her concerns and talking to my colleagues, we came up with what we think is a simple, yet effective, way to address the problem.”
Under current law, “handicapped” placards issued to individuals with a disability do not have an expiration date. This has led to situations in which individuals who received a tag while temporarily disabled continued to use the tag – and the privileges it confers – even after it is no longer needed.
Under the Singleton/Burzichelli/Gusciora bill (A-2947), the following changes would be made concerning the issuance and renewal of temporary and permanent identification cards and placards for individuals with disabilities:
  • The term “handicapped” would be replaced with “person with a disability” in keeping with current state law that requires offensive or outmoded terminology be replaced with more acceptable, current language;
  • All person with a disability windshield placards would be issued with a prominently printed and displayed expiration date;
  • Permanent person with a disability identification cards and placards would be required to be renewed every three years; and
  • The certification of a medical professional would be required for the issuance and/or renewal of a person with a disability identification card or placard.
“We’ve all been walking into a restaurant or grocery store at one time or another and have seen high-performance sports cars parked in parking spots reserved for people with disabilities, or watched on a rainy day as an individual parked in a disabled parking spot leapt nimbly from their vehicle and sprinted to their destination,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester).  “Making these common-sense changes to the law will ensure that we see less of these types of scenarios in the future.”
“Providing tags to access parking dedicated for people with disabilities is a small way to make daily activities a little less challenging for individuals with disabilities and their families,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer). “So when these tags are abused or misused, it can cause a disruption that cascades throughout the person’s whole day.  Adding prominent, visible expiration dates to these tags will help eliminate some of the abuse.”
Several states, including Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Wisconsin have some or all of these restrictions already in place.
The bill was approved by the Assembly 79-0 last month.

Greenwald: A To-do List for Christie’s Tampa Try-Out Tour

(TRENTON) – Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington) released the following statement Monday:

“As Gov. Christie continues his Tampa Try-Out Tour today, here are some things for him to touch upon:
·      Property taxes that are now a net $7,519, compared to $6,244 in 2009, a 20 percent increase since Christie took office;
·      New Jersey’s 9.2 percent unemployment rate, with another 1,000 jobs recently lost;
·      New Jersey’s economic output ranking 47th among the states;
·      New Jersey’s 2.1 percent drop in average weekly wages;
·      How middle-class and senior New Jerseyans continue to wait for tax relief from a governor who has rejected 12 tax relief bills, including recent measures to triple property tax credit funding and provide income tax help to the working poor.
“New Jerseyans are suffering under Gov. Christie’s policies, yet he seems more interested in auditioning for another job. The governor’s attention needs to be on middle-class tax relief and fixing the policies that have hurt New Jersey’s middle-class, not on his personal ambitions.
While Christie brags about his 5 million YouTube hits, millions in New Jersey are still waiting for him to produce results.  While Christie rants and raves for new tax breaks for the ultra-rich, New Jersey's middle class is waiting for him to cut their property taxes.”

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Riley, Moriarty & Conaway Bill to Educate Young People About Online Privacy Approved by full Assembly

(TRENTON) – As the influence of social media continues to grow, Assembly Democrats Celeste Riley, Paul Moriarty and Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. are pushing to create a web campaign to inform young people about online privacy and social media responsibility.
The Assembly recently advanced a measure (A-2933) 73-5 that directs the state Department of Law and Public Safety to operate a website with information about how to protect one’s privacy on the Internet, how to use social media responsibly and protect one’s privacy while using social media, and the potential negative consequences of failing to protect one’s privacy on the Internet or to use social media responsibly.
 “Many young people use social media, but don’t really understand the information and images they share online lives in perpetuity,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem).  “Educating our kids about the perils of sharing personal information online will help them make better decisions about what is and what is not appropriate for the web.”
“Social sites allow us to connect with friends and family around the world, but they can also be breeding grounds for predators,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This campaign will help our young people make responsible decisions and avoid the dangers that lurk online.”
“One poor decision can haunt you into adulthood,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “Young people need to know that what they share on the web is public and permanent. By letting them know how to protect themselves, they will hopefully think twice about oversharing online.”
The department must produce or hire someone to produce instructional videos on how to use the privacy settings on popular websites and social media platforms and post them on the website. The department must also maintain an active presence on popular social media platforms and use these platforms to disseminate information relating to the campaign, and to encourage young people to access the information on the website.
            The bill authorizes the department to partner with student organizations, state academic institutions, and local and state agencies to generate content for the website or to develop and promote training programs and seminars designed to support the campaign. The department may also develop an internship program to assist in creating content for the website, disseminating information through the website, or in any other manner that is relevant to the campaign.
            The measure now awaits consideration by the Senate.

Ramos, Milam, Wagner & Quijano Continue Push to Save Taxpayers + $500,000 Annually by Modernizing State Payroll System

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Ruben J. Ramos Jr., Matthew W. Milam, Connie Wagner and Annette Quijano sponsored to save more than a half-million dollars per year by modernizing the state’s payroll system continues advancing.
            The bill (A-720) requires direct deposit for all state employee compensation on and after July 1, 2014, and allows counties, municipalities and school boards to opt for mandatory direct deposit for all employee compensation on or after July 1, 2014, except for seasonal and temporary employees.
            The bill eliminates administrative costs associated with mailing pay stubs to employees by requiring that all pay information now be available online via the employee’s assigned e-mail address.
           “It’s the 21st century and it’s time the state of New Jersey began acting like it,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “There’s no excuse as to why the state insists on physically mailing pay stubs that are sealed in an envelope, printed on paper, stamped and labeled. This is a recurring administrative cost that the state incurs for thousands of employees.”
            “Employees receiving direct deposit that have an e-mail account with the state should simply be able to access their pay and tax information in the office or at home,” said Milam (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). “Let’s save money by moving past the outdated methods of the past.”
            Under this roll-out, the treasurer will also have the authority to provide exemptions and waivers for certain employees and departments that cannot accommodate the technological requirements. By fiscal year 2015, the plan could save an estimated $540,000 per year.
            “Numerous banks offer free checking with direct deposit,” said Wagner (D-Bergen/Passaic) “This is a commonsense, cost saving measure.”
            “Any plan that can save a half-million dollars per year without disrupting state services is worth doing,” said Quijano (D-Union). “With finding costs savings so vital, this is a must.”
            The bill was approved 79-0 by the Assembly on June 25 and referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Watson Coleman: Christie Preens While Working Class New Jersey Endures His Policies

(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) released the following statement on Monday:

“It’s reasonable to presume that while Gov. Christie today was preening in front of the cameras, somewhere in New Jersey a woman was wondering where she was going to receive quality health care. Thanks to Gov. Christie, that health care is more difficult to find and afford.
“It’s reasonable to presume that while Gov. Christie today was preening in front of the cameras, somewhere in New Jersey a working class family was wondering where they would get the legal help they need to fight an injustice. Thanks to Gov. Christie, such help likely isn’t there.
“It’s reasonable to presume that while Gov. Christie today was preening in front of the cameras, somewhere in New Jersey a middle-class family was worrying about how they were going to pay their property taxes and keep their home. Thanks to Gov. Christie, that question remains unanswered, especially for the 9.2 percent who are unemployed under his watch.
“New Jerseyans are suffering under this governor, and it’s time to put the theater aside and confront reality, and the reality is that Democrats have offered tax relief only to see it rejected by this governor over and over again.”

Wisniewski: Christie’s Repeated Rejection of Tax Relief a Sad Reality Lesson to New Jersey: Watch What He Does, Not What He Says

(TRENTON) – Assembly Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) released the following statement on Monday:

Today’s harangue by Governor Christie represents the height of hypocrisy. He raised taxes on New Jersey’s working poor in his first budget and now he’s vetoed the Earned Income Tax credit, which would have cut their taxes. He raised the property tax burden on seniors and the middle class by reducing property tax rebates and now he’s come out in opposition to a plan that would triple property tax relief. He crafted outrageously inflated revenue projections that even he doesn’t believe in an effort to game the system and now he’s angry that Democrats have taken a more responsible path to middle class property tax relief.
"Today wasn’t about tax relief for New Jerseyans. It was about Governor Christie’s need to be before a television camera as he auditions for another job. His higher taxes on the working poor, higher tolls for commuters and higher property tax burden for seniors and the middle class should be a lesson to all of us. Governor Christie’s true agenda is reflected in what he does and not in what he says.”

Barnes: Christie Veto Makes Access To Legal Assistance Harder for Poor New Jerseyans

(TRENTON) – Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes, III on Friday denounced Gov. Christie’s veto of legislation that would have created a funding mechanism to help Legal Services of New Jersey continue to offer free, legal assistance to low income residents in civil cases.
“As many as two hundred thousand eligible people seek help from Legal Services of New Jersey each year, but due to inadequate resources, two-thirds are turned away. This bill would have created a more stable source of funding for Legal Services to continue to help poor New Jersey residents who cannot afford legal representation in civil matters,” said Barnes (D-Middlesex), who sponsored the bill. “Thanks to the governor’s veto, many of these residents will now have to fend for themselves in a judicial system that can be convoluted and intimidating. This is not justice for all.”
The bill (A-763) would have authorized the Supreme Court to revise or supplement filing fees and other statutory fees payable to the court. Revenue from the fees would have been used to fund:
·       the development, maintenance and administration of a statewide, computerized court information system, that incorporates electronic filing, service of process, document and case management, financial management, and public access to digital court records; and
·       the provision of legal assistance in civil matters by Legal Services of New Jersey.
            The revenue collected from the increase in fees would have been distributed as follows: $17 million to assist the courts in transitioning to a computerized court information system; and $10.1 million to Legal Services of New Jersey and its affiliates exclusively for the provision of legal assistance to the poor in civil matters. Any remaining funding would have been retained by the judiciary for the purpose of developing, maintaining and administering information technology.
“The governor has once again sent a message to poor residents that he does not care to represent them,” Barnes added. “I will give credit to the governor for at least being consistently on message with this veto: unless you are a wealthy New Jerseyan, this administration will not help you.”

Greenwald: Christie’s War on NJ Middle-Class Marches Onward

(TRENTON) – Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington) released the following statement on Monday:

“Gov. Christie’s war on New Jersey’s middle-class marches onward.
“The governor’s mania to protect tax cuts for the mega-rich over property tax relief for the middle-class and senior citizens is appalling. We gave the governor one more chance to help beleaguered homeowners across this state and once again he failed miserably.
“Today was a blatant attempt by the governor to distract from his opposition to middle-class New Jerseyans.
"The governor has made his choice – he will protect the mega-rich to the detriment of middle-class taxpayers.
“In his desperation to deliver tax cuts to the wealthy during his audition for the vice presidency, Gov. Christie has put his own political ambitions ahead of New Jersey's middle class.
“As he spouts distortions and slogans, the governor cannot escape the facts: he keeps protecting huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires while property taxes in New Jersey just keep rising. Democrats wanted to correct that injustice but Gov. Christie simply wants to prolong

Green: Christie More Interested in TV Posing than Real Tax Relief

(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset) released the following statement on Monday:

“Let’s get this straight, folks – this governor is no hero to middle-class New Jerseyans and the poor.
“He can pose all he wants in front of the TV cameras, but the mean-spirited vetoes of property tax relief for the middle-class and senior citizens and income tax relief for the working poor are what really matter. Not to mention his opposition to affordable housing, women’s health care and legal services for working class New Jerseyans.
“Facts are facts, and the fact is this governor has failed repeatedly when it comes to providing tax relief for the middle-class.”

Speaker Oliver: Time and Again Christie Has Failed on Tax Relief

(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) released the following statement on Monday:

“Tax relief is not something that should be subject to political theater and misleading statements, but sadly that’s what we saw today.
“Democrats have responsibly vowed to provide additional tax relief if the revenue is there, but Gov. Christie has presided over a 9.2 percent unemployment rate, economic output that ranks 47th out of the 50 states and revenue collections that have consistently come in below projection.
“Time and time again Gov. Christie has failed when it comes to tax relief.
“New Jerseyans have endured a net 20 percent property tax increase under Gov. Christie. Gov. Christie has consistently opposed middle-class property tax relief. He has repeatedly vetoed income tax relief for the working poor. Gov. Christie’s only consistency is a devotion to protecting tax breaks for the wealthiest New Jerseyans at the expense of the middle-class and senior citizens.
“Gov. Christie today highlighted his opposition to middle-class and senior citizen tax relief, and the revenues he needs did not w magically appear, but the Gov. Christie sure got to show off in front of the television cameras. New Jerseyans deserve better.”

Singleton Decries Christie’s Move to Continue Robbing from Cash-Strapped Towns

Bill Vetoed by Governor Would Have Provided Municipalities with $330M in Additional Property Tax Relief over Next Five Years

TRENTON – Assemblyman Troy Singleton on Friday called Governor Christie’s veto of Democratic legislation intended to provide roughly $330 million in additional property tax relief a misguided move that will continue robbing municipalities of their fair share of state energy tax revenues and municipal aid. 
Singleton was the lead sponsor of the bill (A-2921) Christie vetoed, which was also sponsored by Assemblymen John Burzichelli, Gary Schaer, Wayne DeAngelo, Albert Coutinho, Daniel Benson and Vincent Prieto.
“Since this revenue was first raided several years ago, the property tax crisis has steadily worsened, with homeowners seeing a 20 percent net increase in property taxes since 2009.  Every dollar that has been taken from our towns was an additional dollar taken from property taxpayers, which means decreased services and less value to residents. 
“Towns up and down the state have been struggling to stay within the new two percent property tax cap.  This legislation was designed to protect taxpayers by requiring the revenue municipalities would receive to be applied towards property tax relief.  To continue robbing them of this deserved revenue is a misguided move on the part of the Governor,” said Singleton (D-Burlington).
The bill would have restored the cuts made to the Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Aid (CMPTRA) program and the Energy Tax Receipts (ETR) Property Tax Relief Aid program in fiscal years 2009, 2010 and 2011. The funds would be provided over a five-year span, with the first payment coming in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2013 when municipalities would receive an aid increase equal to 20% of the difference between their total payment of CMPTRA and ETR in Fiscal Year 2008 and Fiscal Year 2012.  
Municipalities would have received equal increases in each of the following four fiscal years.  The fully restored amount would have been distributed beginning in State Fiscal Year 2017 and in each fiscal year thereafter.  The returned energy tax revenues would have been statutorily dedicated to property tax relief, and municipalities would still be subject to the state's current two percent property tax cap.

Assembly Democrats Condemn Gov. Christie Veto Denying NJ’s Poor Working Families Supplemental Income

(TRENTON) – Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver, Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman and Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer on Friday condemned Gov. Christie’s veto of legislation that would have helped lower income working families augment their income by restoring the New Jersey Earned Income Tax Credit cut by the governor two years ago.
            The Earned Income Tax Credit is a credit for working poor residents who work and have earned income. The governor reduced the credit from 25 percent of the federal tax credit to 20 percent in 2010, effectively raising the income tax liability for New Jersey families by $45 million.    The bill (A-3029) would have helped lower income working families by reversing the cut and restoring the program to its previous level of 25 percent, but it was vetoed by the governor.
            “It’s disappointing, but not surprising that the governor would veto legislation that would have put a few extra hundred dollars in the pockets of poor working families,” said Oliver (D-Essex). “Sadly for this segment of the population, they don’t earn enough for the governor to care.”
            “It’s mind-boggling how this governor will go to great lengths to spare the wealthy from paying their fair share, but won’t think twice about denying a working family of modest means timely financial relief,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “His priorities are out of whack.”
            “New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents always get the short end of the stick with Gov. Christie. This veto is just another example,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “If you are poor in this state, as far as the Christie administration is concerned, you are on your own.”
            “The average tax credit under this bill would have been more than $500. That could have helped a struggling homeowner with a mortgage payment or a utility bill,” said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Instead, they get a tax increase and no relief in sight courtesy of our governor.”
            According to federal and state data, some 528,000 taxpayers received an average state Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) benefit amount of approximately $430 during fiscal year 2010, the most recent year for which data is available. Under the bill, the average EIC benefit amount would have grown to approximately $545, assuming a level number of participants.
            The governor claimed he was proposing restoration of the credit to 25 percent in his fiscal year 2013 budget address, when in actuality, he planned to restore half of the reduction in fiscal year 2014 and the other half in fiscal year 2015, meaning there would be no restoration of benefits in the fiscal year 2013 budget.  This bill would have restored the credit to 25 percent for tax year 2012, thereby providing the full restoration in fiscal year 2013. It would have taken effect immediately.
            The state credit is based on the federal credit, considered the nation’s largest and most successful anti-poverty program. Created in 1975 to ease the burden of payroll taxes for the working poor, the federal earned-income tax credit was expanded by President Reagan, and has substantially reduced child poverty and increased incentives to work. Twenty-four states created their own credits to extend tax relief for their residents, based on a percentage of the federal credit.

Watson Coleman: Governor Has Made it Abundantly Clear that Women’s Health Doesn’t Matter

(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman on Friday called Governor Christie’s veto of legislation to fund women’s health centers not surprising, but indicative of his disregard for the plight of low-income women.
 Watson Coleman was the lead Assembly sponsor of the bill (S-788/A-3204) Christie vetoed that would have appropriated $7,453,000 in funding for Family Planning Services grant for women’s health centers.  Watson Coleman noted that Christie’s move is all the more shortsighted because studies show that preventative services provided by family planning clinics save taxpayers an estimated $3.74 for every $1 that is spent by the state.
 “For two years, the Governor was able to hide behind the guise of fiscal prudence when vetoing this legislation.  Given his rosy revenue projections for this year, there’s no reason why he should excise this funding when it provides such critical services women and low-income families.
“By continuing to make them the sacrificial lambs of his budget priorities, he’s playing games with people’s lives.  These health centers provide important, life-saving services to those who would otherwise not have access to them.  Since he first eliminated this funding, we’ve seen demonstrable drops in services.
“If this were really about the money, and not cow-towing to national conservative Republicans, the Governor would recognize that this investment actually saves the state money in the long-run through preventative care,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).
Since Governor Christie first eliminated this funding two years ago, Democratic lawmakers have continued to fight to restore the roughly $7.5 million needed to help provide approximately 131,000 women, children and families with access to routine gynecological exams; screening for high blood pressure, anemia and diabetes; breast and cervical cancer screening and education; screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; contraception; HIV testing and counseling, pre-pregnancy counseling and education; pregnancy testing and confirmation and prenatal care.
Over the last two years, Christie’s cuts in funding have forced many clinics to scale back their services and hours and more than a handful throughout the state have closed.  In 2011, the first full year after Christie eliminated the funding, statewide family planning providers have seen across-the-board decreases in vital services, including:
§       26,000 fewer patients served compared with 2009 – a 19% drop
§       16,614 fewer clinical breast exams compared with 2009 – a 23.6% drop
§       HIV tests decreased by 6% from 2009

Coughlin Bill to Change Priority Ranking Of Environmental Clean-Up Loans Heads to Governor’s Desk

(TRENTON) – A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Craig J. Coughlin that would change the priority ranking of state funding for brownfield redevelopment projects recently received final legislative approval, unanimously passing both the Senate and the Assembly.
The measure (A-2395) would change the priority of grants awarded by the state Economic Development Authority (EDA) from its Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund (HDSRF) and also would add new priority categories.
“In the current economic environment, with municipal budgets everywhere challenged to find funding to address environmental hazards, it is important to give towns the assistance they need to get things done,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex), whose 19th Legislative District includes four sites totaling nearly 1,000 acres that would qualify for funding under this bill.  “Doing so isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for our economy as well.”
As determined by the DEP, a “brownfield development area” is any area in the state that contains at least two brownfield sites, is a discreet neighborhood and has community support for its potential remediation and redevelopment.  The HDSRF provides loans and grants to municipalities, funded through a constitutionally dedicated portion of the state’s corporation business tax, to help remediate and redevelop brownfields.  In fiscal year 2011, $25.8 million was set aside for this purpose.
Under Coughlin’s bill:
·         Sites in a brownfield development area that are owned by a municipality and that are being developed by a public entity would be given second priority for funding;
·         Other sites in brownfield development areas would be given third priority; and
·         sites that have previously been awarded a grant or loan from the HDSRF that require additional funding to complete remediation or redevelopment would be given fourth priority.
In addition, the measure would change the grant funding priority from second to fifth as follows:
·         Second Priority – those sites in areas designated as Planning Area 1 (Metropolitan);
·         Third Priority – those sites in areas designated as Planning Area 2 (Suburban);
·          Fourth Priority – those sites in designated centers or areas receiving plan endorsement as designated pursuant to the “State Planning Act” and;
·         Fifth Priority – those sites that the Brownfields Redevelopment Task Force determines are of immediate economic development potential.
“This is both an economic and quality of life issue,” Coughlin said. “We need to make sure that we are designating our limited pool of funding to those hazardous sites that cast the biggest blight on their communities.  Doing so will help speed redevelopment which, in turn, will help put people back to work and provide a desperately needed boost to local tax bases.”
The bill now heads to the governor, who may sign it, veto it or modify it through his power of conditional veto.

Green: Christie Continues to Work Against Affordable Housing

(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset) released the following statement on Tuesday condemning the governor’s veto of legislation (A-2950 and A-2168) that would have created more affordable housing in New Jersey:

“New Jersey is one of the most expensive states in the nation to live in. If these vetoes are any indication, the governor wants to keep it that way. Unlike the million dollar earners he so vehemently protects, not everyone can afford a decent place to live. We sought to tackle this imbalance with these bills, but like other legislation aimed at helping poor working class families, the governor nixed it.
“Both bills would have facilitated the creation of affordable housing. The bill A-2168 went a step further by turning foreclosed residential properties into affordable housing. Abandoned properties are unsightly, are magnets for criminal activity and drag down the property values of other homes in the neighborhood. This bill could have helped rid neighborhoods of these nuisance properties while providing more reasonable housing opportunities, but these benefits were lost on this administration. “The governor spent a good amount of time yesterday talking about helping the people of New Jersey. I’m not sure what segment of the population he was referring to, but it’s certainly not the working class families of New Jersey. Under this administration, they are on their own.”

Monday, July 2, 2012


A20 Supplements the State annual appropriations act for the State fiscal year 2010-2011, makes appropriations for Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled Programs and the Homestead Rebate/Credit Program. REJECTED BY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE
A1676 Provides single sales fraction for corporation business tax income allocation formula and establishes airline-specific sales fraction. REJECTED BY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (Democratic bill later signed)
A1678 Establishes a New Jersey Homebuyer Tax Credit Program under the New Jersey gross income tax for home purchases during a qualified period. REJECTED BY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE
3398 Expands gross income tax exclusion for pensions, annuities and other retirement income for certain taxpayers. REJECTED BY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE
A3418 Allows corporation business tax credit and gross income tax credit for certain wages paid to qualified interns in tax years 2012 and 2013. REJECTED BY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE
A3535 Consolidates certain business-related categories of gross income and provides 20 year carryforward of certain net losses under gross income tax. REJECTED BY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (Democratic bill later signed)
A4203 Provides State school aid to districts in amount consistent with provisions of "School Funding Reform Act of 2008." REJECTED BY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE
A4204 Restores benefit under State earned income credit program to 25 percent of federal credit beginning in Tax Year 2011. REJECTED BY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE
S2454 "New Jersey Angel Investor Tax Credit Act;" provides credits against corporation business and gross income taxes for investing in New Jersey emerging technology businesses. REJECTED BY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE
A3029 Increases benefit amounts under New Jersey earned income credit program to 25 percent of federal earned income tax credit amounts beginning in Tax Year 2012. REJECTED BY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE
A3202 Makes FY 2013 supplemental appropriation of $789,000,000 to Homestead Benefit Program and amends budget language provisions to provide for significantly enhanced property tax relief payments to beleaguered homeowners and tenants. PROMISED REJECTION BY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE
And lest we forget the net 20 percent property tax hike: