Author: NJ Assembly Republicans

Fiocchi Announces State Grant to Estell Manor School District for Construction Projects

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Sam Fiocchi announced that almost $800,000 has been awarded by the School Development Authority (SDA) to the Estell Manor School District for major construction projects.

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

“The taxpayers and school children are the beneficiaries of this investment in Estell Manor’s schools,” said Fiocchi. “The state commitment eases the burden on local taxpayers for three major projects at the district’s elementary school, with a total construction cost of almost $2 million. The grants help the district continue to provide quality education in safe, efficient schools.”

The heating, ventilation and air system will be replaced in the Estell Manor Elementary School in the most ambitious of the three projects, with a cost of more than $1.2 million. The roof of the school will also be replaced, and a new emergency generator is being installed.

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Space and McHose Bill Increasing Funding Options for Small Businesses Clears Senate

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

The Senate has approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Republicans Parker Space and Alison Littell McHose to help new and expanding small businesses access funding.

A-2073/S-712, which passed the General Assembly in March, now moves to the Governor’s desk to await action. Under the measure, small businesses can utilize a process known as crowdfunding to find investors to provide capital. In crowdfunding, a start-up venture would publish information on its proposed business and invite potential small investors to offer capital. Once pledges for a project reach a predetermined threshold, the businesses would move forward.

Alison Littell McHose

“Crowdfunding is a new source in the funding toolbox for business. It is a valuable way for the community to invest in local technology breakthroughs,” said McHose, R – Sussex, Warren and Morris. “Difficulty accessing adequate capital is one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face.”

This legislation is a version of the federal Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, commonly referred to as the JOBS Act. Parts of this law have yet to be implemented, leading to the introduction of the New Jersey version.

Parker Space

“This bill is an excellent way to develop a market for businesses while reducing the risk to investors,” said Space, R-Sussex, Warren and Morris. “This can help entrepreneurs open their own business, create jobs, and achieve their American Dream.”

State sponsored crowdfunding initiatives have proven successful in several states, including Georgia and Kansas.

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Casagrande calls for slot machines at race tracks to help sagging racing industry

Source: Asbury Park Press -

Showplace Farms, a training center here that houses more than 400 horses, will close on Oct. 1, officials said Tuesday in an announcement that clouded what was supposed to be a celebration this week of New Jersey’s horse-racing industry.

Caroline Casagrande

“There is bipartisan support for expanding gaming in New Jersey,” Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth said in a statement, favoring slot machines at Monmouth Park, Freehold Raceway and the Meadowlands. “The Legislature needs to act now, before another horse farm closes for good and the future of this critical industry is further jeopardized.”

 

The move prompted industry and elected officials once again to call on New Jersey to allow gambling at racetracks. That would help increase the purses, attract more thoroughbreds and stabilize New Jersey horse farms, they said.

Showplace Farms sprawls out over 150 acres in Western Monmouth County. Started 35 years ago, it includes racetracks, paddocks, a therapy swimming pool and a blacksmith and tack shop.

Its closing comes as all eyes are on Monmouth Park this weekend, where American Pharoah, racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, is scheduled to compete in the William Hill Haskell Invitational.

The race horse industry in 2009 was estimated to generate $780 million a year and account for 7,000 jobs, according to a Rutgers University study.

But the state stopped enhancing purses in 2010, and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority handed over horse-racing operations to the private sector, the authors said.

The total purses paid dropped from $47.5 million in 2010 to $22.7 million in 2013, and total wagers dropped from $480.7 million in 2010 to $266.4 million in 2013, according to the report.

The closing of Showplace renewed calls from some lawmakers for New Jersey to expand gambling beyond Atlantic City and the Internet.

“There is bipartisan support for expanding gaming in New Jersey,” Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth said in a statement, favoring slot machines at Monmouth Park, Freehold Raceway and the Meadowlands. “The Legislature needs to act now, before another horse farm closes for good and the future of this critical industry is further jeopardized.”

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DiMaio: More irresponsible budget gimmicks from Dems

Asbury Park Press op-ed by John DiMaio -

John DiMaio

Gov. Chris Christie has signed another responsible state budget without raising taxes, and the uproar about funding for public workers’ pensions has hushed for the time being. However, the underfunded system is an issue that requires bipartisan attention from the Legislature to prevent bigger problems in the future.

The drum beat from the Democrats has been as persistent as it has been disingenuous. They made empty promises about funding the pension system, all the while criticizing a governor who has contributed more money in pension payments in the last five years than the last five governors combined.

In fact, the fantasy budget the Democrats passed without a single vote from a Republican in the Assembly or the Senate threatened the state’s fragile economy with a massive $1 billion-plus tax increase on job-creators, but that still fell short of the pension payment goal.

The FY16 budget signed by Christie dedicates $1.3 billion — the largest pension payment in New Jersey history — to the under-funded pension system. This is a significant step in the right direction, but those of us in the Legislature have more work to do.

I stand with the hard-working New Jerseyans who have earned their pensions, and I am dedicated to protecting them. Funding the pension systems, abandoned by Democrat administrations for more than a decade, is imperative.

However, until both sides of the Legislature’s aisle can agree on the priorities, we will be fighting the same pension battles every June. Relying on what they’ve always done best, the Democrats want to fill the pension hole with shiny new tax dollars.

The ink has barely dried on Christie’s veto of billion-dollar tax increases targeting the very people who are critical to New Jersey’s rebound from the long recession — our job creators.

New Jersey is infamous for our high taxes — income taxes, property taxes, business taxes, estate and inheritance taxes. We are ranked at the top for highest taxes, and at the bottom for worst job environment. The last thing working families need in this state is even more taxes piled on their backs.

A better path for New Jersey — a path to renewed affordability and prosperity — requires the Democrats to join the Republican caucus in a commitment to fiscal self-control.

In the closing weeks of the fiscal year, with the Legislature’s attention focused on the budget and the pension funding challenge, the Democrats managed to rush almost 50 new, recurring spending bills through the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Conservatively, these bills, if enacted, would cost New Jersey taxpayers more than $50 million. Realistically, the cost to taxpayers could be many hundreds of thousands. In fact, a single piece of legislation has a potential fiscal impact of $300 million.

I hope these bills never get to the Assembly floor, and it is unlikely they will ever be signed by Christie. Yet when legislative leadership should have been searching every line of the budget for cuts to help replenish the retirement pools, they were instead entertaining spending fantasies.

The Appropriations Committee met twice in late June, hastily ramming through no less than 49 spending bills despite Assembly rules limiting Appropriations to 12 bills in a single committee day. Among these ultra-important spending bills were multi-million dollar measures to fund zero percent home loans to some public workers, to serve more free food in our schools and to provide electronic monitoring services for offenders.

It’s time for the Legislature to give pensions higher priority than spending bills. As a body, we must learn to restrain ourselves from adding recurring costs to every budget when we should be taking the money that we do build up over the year and using it to help fund the pensions.

The Democrats launched a scheme to mandate the state to make the entire $1.3 billion contribution this month. Since the state doesn’t have that kind of money on hand, their game plan was to borrow the money with short-term bonds, and invest the money. Returns would pay for the debt, and the proceeds would help fill the gap in the pension system.

It was a gimmick solution, not unlike placing taxpayer money on red and spinning the wheel in Atlantic City. Expensive debt has been a driving factor in the downgrades of New Jersey’s bond ratings, forcing us to pay even more money for short-term access to funding. This high-risk gamble in an unstable market place could spell disaster for New Jersey taxpayers.

New Jersey’s public workers and taxpayers deserve better. It is time for the Legislature to get serious about funding the pension without breaking the backs of middle-class families.

Responsible and sustainable spending cuts, and a resolve to freeze everything but the most crucial new spending is the only way to bring New Jersey back into balance.

John DiMaio, R- Warren, Hunterdon and Somerset, is a Republican assemblyman who represents the 23rd Legislative District.

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Munoz bill provides shield for sexual assault survivors

Source: TapInto.com [Op-Ed by Nancy Munoz] -

Nancy Munoz

It was a little less than a year ago when disturbing images of NFL player Ray Rice’s domestic abuse thrust violence towards women into our national conscience. While the news headlines and nightly cable news discussions on the topic have subsided to a degree, combating the problems of domestic assault and sexual assault remain in the forefront of my agenda.

The Legislature recently passed A-4078, of which I was a prime sponsor, known as the “Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015.” Experts in the field of sexual violence state that one of the biggest hurdles to combating sexual assault is the lack of reporting by the victims. The complex emotions that assault victims may experience, including guilt, shame, embarrassment, and fear, all contribute to the failure to press charges against their attacker.

RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, estimates that 68 percent of sexual assaults in the United States are not reported to authorities, with a resultant 98 percent of assailants never spending a day in jail and free to assault again. Prior to the passage of A-4078, sexual assault victims were unable to get protection if they had not pressed charges; with passage of the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015, the courts may issue a temporary protective order regardless of whether the victim has filed criminal charges.

The bill prohibits the alleged offender from having any contact or communication, including personal, written, telephone, or via electronic device, with victims and their family members, employers, and employees. A-4078 was passed by the Assembly in February 2015, and passed by the Senate last month. I anticipate that the bill will be signed into law soon.

I recently had the honor of accepting an appointment by State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner to the Ad Hoc Committee on Domestic Violence. The committee includes representatives from the three branches of government, with one member of each party from both houses of the Legislature. The twenty-seven person committee represents a wide range of backgrounds and experience with domestic violence, including judges, lawyers, law enforcement, and New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women. We have met and are continuing to meet to critically analyze the State’s efforts and policies on combating violence and aiding victims, looking at what we do well in the State and what could be improved. The committee is working to draft policies and legislation, and make recommendations to the court system to provide excellent and consistent services across the State.

As part of my commitment to addressing the issue of domestic violence, I hosted a roundtable discussion at Kean University on May 27th with stakeholders from the profession of nursing, including chief nursing officers and hospital executives, school nurses, advanced practice psychiatric nurses, nursing educators, nurse attorneys, and the NJ Coalition for Battered Women. As nurses are largest number of healthcare providers in the US, they are often the first professional interface with a victim of sexual or domestic violence—whether as a patient in the emergency room, or through contact during care for themselves or family members. It is imperative that all nurses are properly educated and able to handle this delicate situation.

The topics discussed include current hospital policies, course requirements at our schools of nursing, and issues concerning protection of our young victims in the school system. The goal of our members is to create an atmosphere where victims of domestic violence know they can openly discuss this issue with any nurse, and to create a consistent education model for nurses at all levels. We are also looking at hospital policies that work well for the victims, and can be extended across the State. The group will continue to work to reform policies, expand education and training for nursing students and active nurses, and make recommendations to the Board of Nursing.

I am extremely proud of the work we are doing in the State on the issue of domestic and sexual violence. As a member of the Assembly Women and Children Committee and the Health Committee, I will continue to work on policies to protect women, men and children who are victims. The ad-hoc Committee on Domestic Violence and the members of the Nursing Roundtable will continue to work on recommendations to protect all victims. We still have work to do, and I remain determined to make sure New Jersey does all it can to protect and support victims.

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Bramnick supports landscape choice without government interference

Source: The Star-Ledger -

What does Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, the Republican leader of the Assembly, have in common with a nature-loving hippie?

Jon Bramnick

The answer: They both see the good sense in allowing Jersey homeowners to turn their yards into miniature nature preserves without running afoul of the local code enforcement officer.

Bramnick (R-Union) has just put in a bill that would offer a legal shield to those who replace grass lawns with a richer variety of native plants that can provide better homes for bees, butterflies, and other critters that can find no niche in the neatly manicured lawns that dominate suburbia.

A sweeping, manicured lawn, is the landscaping equivalent to driving a Hummer.

Consider the benefits: No fertilizers running into local streams when it rains. No lawnmowers spewing fumes. No weed whackers. And a new bountiful look that breaks from the tight-wad feel of so many suburbs.

Bramnick was inspired by his wife, Patricia Brentano, who has turned their front lawn into a mini-preserve. The neighbors, it turns out, don’t mind a bit.

“I’m just keeping the government out of your face if you want to do it,” says Bramnick (R-Union).

When you see a sweeping, manicured lawn, don’t consider it a thing of beauty. It is the landscaping equivalent to driving a Hummer. Bramnick’s bill would allow you to make a different choice.

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CASAGRANDE SAYS CLOSING OF ANOTHER HORSE FARM SHOULD SOUND A WARNING BELL TO LAWMAKERS

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Caroline Casagrande

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande said the recent announcement of the planned closing of Showplace Farms should serve as a wakeup call to Trenton. The Millstone-based Standardbred farm is home to 425 horses, a first class training center and a swimming pool for rehabilitation.

“The horseracing industry has been warning us for years that it is getting increasingly difficult to compete with neighboring states that offer higher purses fueled by racinos,” said Casagrande, R-Monmouth County. “The closure of Showplace Farms is further proof that New Jersey must act now to protect this vital industry.”

“Horseracing is a billion dollar industry that provides close to 12 thousand jobs,” explains Casagrande. “Losing those jobs would be devastating to the Monmouth County Economy, and would trickle down to veterinarians, tack shops and the pleasure-riding community.

“Our beautiful horse farms are also an important part of open space preservation,” the Assemblywoman points out. “Every farm lost is a loss for the environment.”

Casagrande is a strong advocate for slot machines at the Meadowlands, Freehold Raceway and Monmouth Park.

“The state needs to do more to create a climate where higher purses can attract quality horses to all our tracks,” said Casagrande. “The popularity of Triple Crown-winner American Pharoah and excitement for the Haskell Invitational is drawing national attention and shows there is still great interest in horseracing in New Jersey.”

New Jersey already lost Perretti Farms, and Showplace Farms will close in October, explained Casagrande. “There is bipartisan support for expanding gaming in New Jersey. The Legislature needs to act now, before another horse farm closes for good and the future of this critical industry is further jeopardized.”

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GOP Assemblyman Ciattarelli targets Jersey City

PolitickerNJ -

In a potential 2017 precursor to a general election for governor, a Republican lawmaker aimed today to unhorse the hard-charging Democratic Mayor from Hudson County.

Jack Ciattarelli

On the heels of an attack earlier this year by an Assembly colleague and doing his own part to muddy Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16), said Jersey City losing $80 million in property taxes due to tax abatements exemplifies a broken school funding system.

The assemblyman from Hillsborough noted that Jersey City’s abatements or payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) are long-term tax breaks given to developers, allowing them to pay a fixed amount instead of the normal property tax rate. The city shares five percent of the PILOT revenue with the county. Most times, the school district receives very little or nothing.

“This report reveals the tip of an iceberg that is vast and mostly underwater,” said Ciattarelli, who is in GOP conversations as a possible 2017 candidate for governor. “Short-term property tax abatements, under very special circumstances, may have their place. What’s happening in Jersey City and elsewhere is crony capitalism at its worst and an injustice to all New Jersey taxpayers.

“Jersey City can afford to siphon property tax revenues from their schools because the state provides such large subsidies,” he added. “In Jersey City, the state contributes 60 percent of its school funding. This subsidy is so overly generous that local taxpayers pay only 15 cents on the dollar for their schools.”

Fulop’s own statewide designs are well-documented by this website.

“At a time when the state is experiencing a painful squeeze on its budget and can’t afford to make the full teachers’ pension payment, the abatements exploit the state school funding formula,” Ciattarelli said. “If communities want to provide tax abatements to encourage development, they should fund them from municipal and county taxes, not school property taxes.”

Following up on a face to face case he made to teachers last month, the Republican Assemblyman laid out two parts of his comprehensive proposal for pension reform that address the area of school funding and abatements:

No community is allowed to fund less than 25 percent of their school budget through the local tax levy (some communities fund less than 15 percent of their school budget, while others fund more than 90 percent); and
No community whose local school budget is funded more than 50 percent by federal and state aid can abate school property taxes on new development.

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Holzapfel-Wolfe-McGuckin Bill Eases Beach Access for Veterans’ Families

Source: Press Release -

Gregory P. McGuckin

Dave Wolfe

In recognition of the many sacrifices made by the families of the men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces, Jersey Shore legislators Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin, all R-Ocean, sponsor legislation (S-3130) to allow shore municipalities to provide the spouses and dependent children of veterans free or reduced cost access to beaches.

“This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the spouses and children – the unsung heroes – who silently provided the most support and bore the biggest burden helping our veterans when they were on active duty,” said Holzapfel, who recently introduced the bill in the Senate. “It’s our honor to provide them with an opportunity to enjoy the Jersey Shore’s treasured coastline with time at our beaches.”

Wolfe and McGuckin will introduce an identical bill as soon as the General Assembly reconvenes. New Jersey is home to more than 400,000 veterans and their families.

“Few people realize how difficult it is for the families of those who served our country,” Wolfe. “It wasn’t easy packing up and moving each time their spouse was reassigned or left behind when their loved one was deployed. Giving these families easier access to our beautiful beaches may seem like a small gesture, but it’s a way to show them we appreciate their sacrifice.”

“This is an effort to allow those who selflessly supported our men and women who served with honor to enjoy some of the best beaches along the East Coast,” said McGuckin. “Military life is very stressful for the spouses and children of our soldiers and we want to make sure they know their sacrifices are appreciated.”

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Ciattarelli: Jersey City Tax Abatements Manipulate School Funding System and Unfair to New Jersey Taxpayers

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Jack Ciattarelli

Assembly Republican Jack Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex, said Jersey City losing $80 million in property taxes due to tax abatements is a prime example of how the school funding system is manipulated. A recent news report revealed the lost property taxes.

Jersey City’s abatements or payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) are long-term tax breaks given to developers, allowing them to pay a fixed amount instead of the normal property tax rate. The city shares five percent of the PILOT revenue with the county. Most times, the school district receives very little or nothing.

“This report reveals the tip of an iceberg that is vast and mostly underwater,” said Ciattarelli. “Short-term property tax abatements, under very special circumstances, may have their place. What’s happening in Jersey City and elsewhere is crony capitalism at its worst and an injustice to all New Jersey taxpayers.

“Jersey City can afford to siphon property tax revenues from their schools because the state provides such large subsidies,” stated Ciattarelli. “In Jersey City, the state contributes 60 percent of its school funding. This subsidy is so overly generous that local taxpayers pay only 15 cents on the dollar for their schools.

“At a time when the state is experiencing a painful squeeze on its budget and can’t afford to make the full teachers’ pension payment, the abatements exploit the state school funding formula,” explained Ciattarelli. “If communities want to provide tax abatements to encourage development, they should fund them from municipal and county taxes, not school property taxes.”

Ciattarelli noted two parts of his comprehensive proposal for pension reform that address the area of school funding and abatements:

• No community is allowed to fund less than 25 percent of their school budget through the local tax levy (some communities fund less than 15 percent of their school budget, while others fund more than 90 percent); and

• No community whose local school budget is funded more than 50 percent by federal and state aid can abate school property taxes on new development.

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