Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean and Senator Diane Allen, both members of the Senate Education Committee, expressed disappointment that New Jersey is woefully unprepared to apply for federal “Race to the Top” education grants. Published reports indicate that the state Department of Education ceased working on the application in mid-November. The deadline for the grant application is January 19, 2010.
“It is disappointing that the state Department of Education will be unable to complete the grant application by the deadline,” Kean stated. “I believe, especially in our current fiscal situation, it is imperative to make every effort to apply for all of the federal aid for which we are eligible. Remember, New Jersey only gets back 61 cents of every dollar we send to Washington. To refuse to apply for a $200 million to $400 million education grant is simply inexcusable.”
Committee Advances Connors/Rumpf Measure to Establish Stable Funding Source for Island Beach State Program
Legislation sponsored by Senator Christopher J. Connors and Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf to establish a dedicated funding source for the interpretive program at Island Beach State Park advanced through the Senate Environment Committee today. The Park’s interpretive program is an educational resource that describes the Island’s natural history through tours and activities.
Senator Diane Allen, R-7, advanced her bill allowing taxpayers to make voluntary contributions to help members of the military and their families. The New Jersey Military Family Relief Fund would be financed with voluntary contributions from taxpayers. Taxpayers would be asked, as they file their tax returns, if they want to include a contribution or dedicate a portion of a refund to help military families in need of assistance.
“This bill makes it easy for good-hearted, patriotic people to help the most deserving families in our state deal with the stresses of overseas deployment and long terms of duty,” Senator Allen said. “It costs taxpayers nothing unless they donate, and it could mean the world to a military family that is making tremendous sacrifices for every American citizen.”
Senators Bill Baroni and Jennifer Beck, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Kevin O’Toole, a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, commented today on a report issued by the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) detailing waste and abuse at the local government level.
“The examples of waste and abuse of taxpayers dollars detailed in this report are appalling,” Beck stated. “The examples of abuse are widespread and cross partisan lines. Sadly it seems that some local officials are not interested in being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
Two-Year Extension for Recycling Coordinator Certification
Senator Michael Doherty, R-Warren/Hunterdon, said he is pleased that his legislation giving municipalities a two-year extension on requirements to train a certified recycling coordinator has been signed into law.
“Many recycling coordinators are volunteers or part-time employees who get little or no extra pay for ensuring that their towns are in compliance with recycling laws,” Doherty stated. “A recession is the wrong time to force cash-strapped towns to pay the extra expense of training and increased compensation to meet new certification requirements.”
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean’s bill calling for a constitutional amendment to end raids on the state unemployment insurance fund advanced today in the Assembly Labor Committee. The bill calls for a statewide referendum on whether the state should be able to balance its budget or finance unrelated spending by raiding funds collected solely by taxes taken from employers or employees’ paychecks.
Past raids have forced the state to borrow more than $1 billion to pay unemployment claims during this recession,” Senator Kean said. “Continuing deficits caused by raids on the unemployment fund will lead either to more borrowing or calls for job-killing tax increases on employers. Senate Concurrent Resolution 60 should be sent to voters as soon as possible.”
Senator Joe Kyrillos, senior Republican on the Senate Economic Growth Committee, noted the New Jersey Business and Industry Association’s annual survey of current economic conditions shows business owners don’t believe that recovery will come in 2010. More importantly, survey respondents gave “record low marks to New Jersey as a place for expansion of their business facilities.”
“It’s time for Trenton to listen and respond to the pleas of the beleaguered business owners that New Jersey depends on to create jobs and economic growth,” Kyrillos said. “Business owners not only expect no growth in 2010 – business people are saying that New Jersey is a bad place to grow if they could expand.”
The following statement was released by State Senator Joe Pennacchio (R – Morris/Passaic):
“Both Senators Lautenberg and Menendez, while blindly and enthusiastically following their party’s leadership, have failed in putting New Jersey and in particular its senior citizens first. Their vote to move the Senate’s ‘Health Care Bill’ will hurt our states finances but more importantly reduce the quality and quantity of care given to our senior citizens through Medicare.
“The bill contains $400 billion in Medicare cuts. To oversee these cuts, the Senators voted to allow a newly formed bureaucracy called the ‘Medicare Advisory Board’ to institute deep and lasting cuts to our seniors. Recently, a similar government board advised severe restrictions on mammograms. Could this be the future of health care? These cuts would be ‘automatic’ unless overruled by the same Congress which created the ‘Medicare Advisory Board’ in the first place.
Republican Michael Doherty, born in Point Pleasant and raised in Glen Ridge, became the senator of the people of District 23 today at a State House ceremony attended by his family, friends and supporters. Senator Doherty, 46, pledged that he will represent his constituents with energy, character and honor.
Mike Doherty being sworn-in as the new Senator representing the 23rd legislative district in the New Jersey Senate on November 23, 2009.
“I am humbled and honored by the trust that the people of District 23 have put in me,” Senator Doherty said. “It is their interests that I will represent in Trenton, and their interests alone.”
Senator Gerald Cardinale, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced today that he would oppose any effort to weaken the drug-free school zones law.
“It is clear that children need more rigorous protection against the predators that turn school yards into open air drug markets,” Cardinale stated. “Weakening the laws that protect students would send the wrong message to the students, educators and the community at large.