Senator Steven Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) plans to introduce a resolution urging congress to reconvene in order to fully fund efforts to combat the Zika virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that women infected with Zika during pregnancy are at risk of having children born with microcephaly and other severe birth defects. Oroho is asking for federal funding to be made available to fight the virus before it becomes rampant in the United States.
“Zika poses a very clear and present health risk even within our own borders. We are already starting to see cases of Zika and Zika-related birth defects occurring throughout the country,” Senator Oroho said. “Federal inaction is not acceptable as our communities need the requisite tools to help fight the spread of this disease.”
The Star-Ledger published an editorial by Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen, Passaic) calling on Democrats to pass Governor Christie’s landmark school funding reform, the “Fairness Formula,” to provide property tax relief and give all students an equal chance at success.
Gov. Chris Christie’s landmark school funding reform, the “Fairness Formula,” would address New Jersey’s property tax crisis by fundamentally changing the way the state spends your money.
The Christie plan is called the Fairness Formula because it provides every student in the state with the same level of funding for their education. It treats every child equally, because all of our students deserve an equal chance at success in our schools.
Under the plan, existing state education funding would be divided equally among students. Every school district would receive an identical $6,599 per student in state aid.
The Fairness Formula would provide 75 percent of school districts with more funding than they currently receive, and deliver homeowners in long-underfunded districts with real, substantive property tax relief.
Kean, Cunningham, Ruiz & Mazzeo Bill Would Require Court Order to Garnish Wages, Take Other Actions To Collect on Student Loans
Senator Tom Kean, Senator Sandra B. Cunningham and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz announced they will introduce legislation requiring the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority to obtain a court order prior to using certain collection practices for defaulted loans under the NJCLASS Loan Program. Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo will also introduce the bill at the General Assembly’s next quorum.
“Every student should be able to pursue a college degree without being saddled with a lifetime of unmanageable debt,” Senator Kean said. “The students who testified today were just trying to build a better future. This legislation is a strong step forward in our ongoing battle to make higher education more affordable and accessible for every child across New Jersey, regardless of income or background.”
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean called for Senate Democrats to immediately advance Port Authority reforms to ensure transparency and accountability at the bi-state agency.
Kean reiterated his call for action following statements made by Port Authority Inspector General Mike Nestor that New Jersey’s failure to advance reforms identical to those signed into law in New York prevents the inspector’s office from fully investigating certain allegations of fraud, corruption and waste at the agency.
“The Inspector General’s concerns are proof positive that if we do not enact reforms, the cycle of waste and abuse at the Port Authority will only continue to grow,” Senator Kean said. “The reforms I sponsor would uphold transparency and accountability at the agency, and ensure the inspector’s office has the tools they need to fully investigate allegations of misconduct. We cannot continue to tie the hands of those who are working to protect the millions of commuters who rely on the services provided by the Port Authority.”
Local Finance Board & NJSEA Will Approve Bonding for Boondoggle Project
Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) warned that the approval of $800 million of bonds to subsidize the long-delayed American Dream Meadowlands project is set to move forward next week.
The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority has issued an agenda for a special meeting on Tuesday, August 9th that includes Resolution 2016-35 – Consideration of Resolution Approving Financing of the American Dream Project.
The Local Finance Board has issued an agenda for a meeting on Wednesday, August 10th that includes authorization for $800,000,000 of Proposed Redevelopment Area Bonds for the American Dream Project.
“I warned in June that the Triple Five Group would attempt to shift the risk of the boondoggle American Dream Meadowlands project onto the backs of New Jersey taxpayers, and now we have proof they are trying to do just that,” said Doherty. “Why should New Jersey taxpayers bear the risk of subsidizing this project when the same company can afford to undertake mega-projects in other states with no need for similar subsidies?”
Beck Praises Department of Education Commissioner’s Decision to Fund Freehold Borough Schools Expansion
85% of Project Costs to Be Paid by State
Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11) announced that Commissioner of Education David Hespe has ruled that Freehold Borough may proceed with school construction, and the State of New Jersey will fund 85% of all project expenses after local referendums have twice failed. The Commissioner’s decision specifically cites that Freehold Borough’s students cannot receive a thorough and efficient education in their current conditions. For the 2016-2017 school year, the borough schools are 572 students over capacity.
“This is a historic day for Freehold Borough. The process of filing an official appeal to the Commissioner of Education is a long and in-depth process that is rarely employed because of the incredible amount of scrutiny and fact-finding that must occur. The facts in Freehold Borough speak for themselves. Over the last decade, their student population has grown dramatically while State funding has remained essentially flat. It is exceedingly rare for the legal challenge to result in the State of New Jersey paying 85% of the costs of a project,” said Beck.
Kean Calls for Immediate Passage of Pay-to-Play Campaign Finance Restrictions for Public-Sector Labor Unions
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean called for the immediate passage of pay-to-play legislation (S-341) that would restrict campaign contributions by public employee labor organizations.
His action follows claims made by Senate President Stephen Sweeney that certain public labor unions expressly tied future campaign contributions to specific legislative action they are demanding on measures they support.
“I don’t think anyone is shocked by the allegations made by the Senate President that public-sector labor unions are attempting to influence the legislative process with campaign donations,” said Kean. “The only surprise is that it is happening so publicly in this instance. This just serves as confirmation that the quid pro quo actually occurs that most people suspected between unions and the elected Democrats they usually support.”
The New Jersey Senate has approved bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) that enhances protections for victims of domestic violence.
The compromise proposal, S-2483, restricts access to firearms by certain persons subject to restraining orders or convicted of domestic violence offenses, and provides a clear and supervised process for the immediate surrender of firearms.
“This common-sense compromise ensures that when firearms must be surrendered due to conviction or restraining order, there are no gaps where the person still has access to their guns or the ability to cause additional harm,” said Beck. “For a person subject to a temporary restraining order related to domestic violence, for example, it makes no sense to give them a week to turn in their firearms. You’re just giving them a week to do something bad. If the person is such a risk that the restraining order is necessary, the guns should be surrendered immediately.”
Legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean and Senator Kip Bateman to allow pari-mutuel betting at the Far Hills Race Meeting was approved by the New Jersey Senate in a 38-0 vote.
The bill, S-2394, authorizes the New Jersey Racing Commission to grant a special two-day permit annually to conduct a steeplechase race, and to allow wagering on the event.
“The Far Hills Race Meeting has a long history of supporting charitable causes in the region,” said Kean. “Allowing wagering will boost interest in the event, support New Jersey horse farms and ensure continued support for local healthcare facilities.”
The New Jersey Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senators Anthony Bucco and Joseph Pennacchio allowing veterans to use alternative forms to apply for a county veteran identification card. The bill also expands access to members of the National Guard who have served outside of New Jersey.
“All veterans, including those who have served nationwide in the National Guard, should be able to easily access the benefits they have earned,” Senator Bucco (R-Morris) said. “Thousands have already gone through the process of receiving a veteran ID card from their county. Allowing service members to supply approved separation forms other than a DD-214 will encourage more veterans to participate in programs for the military throughout the state.”