Calls for Democratic Leadership of Legislature to “Do the Right Thing” for New Jersey Property Taxpayers
Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) again called for legislative Democrats to join her in moving sick leave reforms following reports that property taxpayers will be on the hook for a potentially record-breaking payout of more than half-a-million dollars for unused days to Jersey City’s retiring police chief.
“How many six-figure sick leave payouts must fall on the shoulders of property taxpayers before the Democratic leadership of the New Jersey Legislature will allow votes on reform legislation to end this anachronistic practice?” Beck asked. “New Jersey property taxpayers cannot afford to make $500,000 payments to retiring employees when their tax bills are already the highest in the nation.”
Effort Launched in Response to Judge’s Questionable Actions Following South Brunswick Affordable Housing Ruling
Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli announced that they are exploring solutions to prevent judges from violating the public’s trust after they leave the bench.
Bateman and Ciattarelli (R-16) are taking action in light of reports that just days after retiring, a Superior Court judge began working for a real estate developer who could benefit financially from the judge’s recent decision to drastically increase South Brunswick’s affordable housing obligations.
“At the very least, Judge Wolfson’s actions have cast a shadow on an affordable housing ruling that could decimate South Brunswick,” Senator Bateman said. “Now our fear is that the apparent personal benefit he stands to derive from that ruling will also damage the general public’s trust in the judiciary as a whole. New Jersey residents should not have to question whether court decisions are made impartially and in the interests of justice.”
“The New Jersey Supreme Court should honor its responsibility to regulate judicial conduct by taking a hard look at what happened in South Brunswick,” Assemblyman Ciattarelli said. “If no violations are found, then the Supreme Court should take this opportunity to evaluate whether the rules need to change. The Court would be wise to consider regulations that at the very least impose a ‘distancing period’ before former judges can appear back in court on matters that allow them to benefit from their own previous rulings.”
Although the project just cleared another hurdle in the approval process by the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC), Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Mercer, Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex) vowed to continue to push back against the controversial PennEast Pipeline.
“This fight is far from over,” Senator Bateman said. “From the very beginning, our residents have made it clear that they don’t want this pipeline cutting through their communities, and there’s no reason to give up now. There’s a long way to go before this project gets final approval.”
After a week of commuting troubles caused by a derailed train at Penn Station in New York, Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris, Essex, Passaic) said he believes the issues related to New Jersey’s rail system and NJ Transit could have been addressed years ago if the Assembly Transportation Committee had advanced his legislation to create a rail study commission.
“I’ve introduced a bill to create a rail study commission every session since 2010, and it’s passed the Senate three times,” said Senator Pennacchio, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee. “However, the bill has never been granted a hearing in the Assembly. Not once. Had the Assembly acted sooner, we might have had a chance to fix some of our commuter rail problems.”
Following reports that Jersey City will now share a portion of its tax abatement revenue with its school district, Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris, Passaic, Essex) said the plan is too little, too late.
“I and my Senate Republican colleagues have been pushing for PILOT money to go to local schools for years. We even included it our proposal for school funding reforms just last week,” said Senator Pennacchio, Vice-Chair of the Senate Select Committee on School Funding Fairness. “So, it’s great to see Mayor Fulop seriously consider our suggestion, but Jersey City owes it to its students to contribute more instead of leaving the rest of the state’s taxpayers stuck with the bill.”
Senate Republican Budget Officer Anthony Bucco (R-Morris) released the following statement on the start of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee’s hearings on Governor Christie’s Fiscal Year 2018 State budget proposal.
“Over the course of the past several years, this committee has worked on a bipartisan basis to enact fiscally responsible measures that are already making New Jersey more affordable for our taxpayers,” Senator Bucco said.
“As Treasurer Scudder noted in his remarks today, we are in a much better place now than we were eight years ago.
Oroho Welcomes Start of State Budget Hearings, Says Recently Enacted Tax Cuts Critical to State’s Economy
Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris), a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, released the following statement as the committee began its first budget hearing of the year:
“Last year, in a bipartisan manner, we were able to enact significant, targeted tax cuts that will go a long way in attracting capital investment, addressing the outmigration of income and helping to grow jobs.
Following the April 3 NJ Transit train derailment, Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. released the following statement reaffirming his support for investing in the Gateway Project, and other infrastructure projects benefiting New Jersey commuters.
The April 3 derailment occurred less than two weeks after a NJ Transit train was sideswiped by a derailed Amtrak train at New York Penn Station.
“NJ Transit riders cannot afford any more major disruptions that put their safety and their job security at risk,” Senator Kean (R-Union) said. “The Gateway Tunnel would provide one-seat rides to Manhattan on every NJ Transit rail line, alleviate congestion and ensure that New Jersey commuters reach their destination safely and without delay.
“There seems to be a bipartisan agreement among State and Federal legislators that investing in transportation infrastructure projects is critical to creating jobs and securing longterm economic growth, not to mention protecting the thousands of tri-state area commuters who rely on mass transit. Two train derailments in fewer than two weeks should be enough to make this a top priority.”
In support of veterans across of the state, Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove want to raise awareness that April 9th through 15th of each year is New Jersey POW-MIA Week of Remembrance.
The State Week of Remembrance was established through bipartisan legislation authored by the 9th District Legislative Delegation signed into law in June of 2005. The Delegation’s intent was to pay public tribute to the thousands of men and women who have suffered as prisoners of war or who remain missing in action.
Following recent reports that New Jersey Congressmen Chris Smith and Albio Sires have begun a new effort to pass legislation that seeks the return of fugitives abroad, Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-Passaic, Morris, Essex) again called for the return of convicted cop-killer Joanne Chesimard from Cuba.
“We must do everything we can to ensure Joanne Chesimard pays her debt to society,” Pennacchio. “She killed a state trooper in cold blood, but she’s spent more than 30 years living free in communist Cuba.”