The following editorial by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean on the role of Republicans in an era of single-party government in Trenton controlled by Democrats was published by The Record on March 9, 2018:
Although Democrats now control both the Governor’s Office and the New Jersey Legislature, Senate Republicans are committed to being more than just a voice of opposition.
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean speaking at a joint State House press conference with Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick on March 12, 2018. (Facebook/Tom Kean)
In fact, we believe Republican leadership will help guide the public debate to produce real solutions. We’re working to be the difference makers in Trenton.
Our caucus is made up of dentists, chemists, lawyers, financial experts, and small business owners. We have a motivated, talented group of people who are united behind one simple goal: we want to make New Jersey worth the investment that our residents are making in it.
To that end, our Senate Republican caucus has not been shy about offering to work with Gov. Phil Murphy and our colleagues across the aisle.
We believe there’s room for bipartisan agreement on important issues, and to achieve important priorities of both Republicans and Democrats.
While we’re focused on advancing solutions, we’re also willing to be the guard dogs to raise the alarm when single-party government fails us, both in Washington or in Trenton.
We vocally opposed the limitation of the federal SALT deduction to $10,000, and have proposed raising New Jersey’s identical $10,000 limit to provide relief. We fought for a fair funding deal for the Gateway Tunnel to support commuters, fare-payers, and our regional economy, and will continue to fight to keep Washington from reneging on a prior funding agreement that could jeopardize the project.
And when the federal government proposed a plan to allow oil drilling in our coastal waters, we stepped up to protect our $45 billion tourism economy and hundreds of thousands of jobs.
We’ve also shown that we will seize every opportunity to work with anyone of either party who is willing to work with us in good faith. Take, for example, the bipartisan, bicameral creation of a new Legislative Manufacturing Caucus.
Members of both parties in the Legislature seemed to recognize that the employers who sign our residents’ paychecks are at their limit. They can’t afford to pay more in taxes, and many have demonstrated that they’re willing to pick up and relocate to less expensive states if we force their hand.
Appearing to recognize this reality, the Legislature formed the Manufacturing Caucus to better understand the needs of employers and offer policy recommendations for broader consideration.
Senate Republicans have been engaged in this process. We want to use our seats at the table to help rebuild an industry that once served as the core of New Jersey’s economy and the path to a middle-class lifestyle for millions of our families.
We’re still working there, and we’re ready to do more.
Over the past decade, Republicans in the Legislature have blocked billions of dollars in new spending initiatives, proposals that would have inevitably led to increased taxes and unaffordable obligations to state taxpayers. We have also formed and led strong bi-partisan coalitions that have tackled some of the most intransigent problems facing New Jerseyans.
Like our federal counterparts, we take seriously our responsibility in the vetting process to ensure that gubernatorial nominees have both the experience and capacity to effectively serve the taxpayers of New Jersey. We will support well-qualified nominees for executive and judicial postings, but will oppose nominees that bring any semblance of an agenda to the bench.
On the legislative front, Senate Republicans do not believe that veto overrides should ever become a trivial exercise, although they do serve an important role. As we represent a separate, but equal, branch of government, legislators can utilize this avenue if negotiations with the Administration prove unproductive on an issue of critical importance.
It will be interesting to learn if this Legislature is as willing to attempt to override the governor’s veto pen as often as they have in the past. If so, we stand ready to implement whatever tools are necessary to address our state’s crisis of affordability.
We enter this new era knowing that we are engaged in an uphill battle, especially with a Governor whose campaign promises included billions in tax increases to fund tens of billions in new spending.
We’ve shown that we’re ready, willing, and able to supply ideas, and to work with our partners through every step of a bipartisan legislative process to produce results for New Jersey’s homeowners, taxpayers, and families.
It will take a joint effort of responsible Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature to temper Governor Murphy’s progressive spending impulses and enact the affordability reforms that New Jersey so sorely needs. But we’re up for a fight in this effort.
In this era of single-party government in Trenton, if the Democratic legislative majorities shrink to become lapdogs to a left-wing governor, Senate Republicans will step up to be the guard dogs that New Jersey taxpayers need.
Related Facebook Post: