Author: NJ Assembly Republicans

Bramnick statement on the passing of Sen. Ray Bateman

Press Release - Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick released the following statement about the loss of Senator Raymond Bateman:

“Senator Bateman’s name is synonymous with ‘civility’ and he had a sterling reputation within the Republican Party and throughout New Jersey. We will miss him. His family and friends are in our prayers, and we mourn his passing.”

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Handlin voices opposition to JCP&L power line

Source: APP.com – The large standing-room-only crowd packed into a room at Middletown Library on Wednesday night seemed ready for a long fight ahead, a battle against a proposed 10-mile Jersey Central Power & Light transmission line that will run along the NJ Transit tracks and behind their houses, yards and pools.

“What matters in this fight?” said Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, who fought a similar proposal in the 1990s. “Money matters, media matters, getting important people on our side matters, but what matters most is you, numbers, the people who have come here tonight.”

Amy Handlin

An estimated 300 residents attended an organizational meeting for RAGE, Residents Against Giant Electric. The group reformed recently after successfully fending off the project decades ago. “You have the power to literally stop the functioning of government and offices that refuse to help, that aren’t on our side,” Handlin said. “You have the ability to make it clear to elected officials who aren’t on our side that they will not only lose your votes, they will lose their good names in their communities.”

Jersey Central Power & Light’s $75 million proposal for a 230,000-volt transmission line, called the Monmouth County Reliability Project, would run along the New Jersey Transit’s North Jersey Coast Line railroad tracks and right of way, connecting a substation in Aberdeen with one in Red Bank and going through Hazlet, Holmdel and Middletown…

The power line would feed electricity into Monmouth County’s distribution system, encompassing 63 substations from Union Beach to Freehold Township and along the coast to Sea Girt. JCP&L considered 17 potential routes for the proposed project, considering factors such as environmental concerns, vegetation removal and the proximity to homes, The utility has not yet filed a proposal with the state Board of Public Utilities, which must approve the project.

A growing number of residents have raised an alarm, concerned about the health impact of electromagnetic fields from the lines, the effect on their houses’ property values and the aesthetics of the line’s wires and monopole towers, which will be from about 140 feet to more than 200 feet tall, depending on their location. (JCP&L has disputed that the project will significantly increase electromagnetic fields, given the presence of NJ Transit’s electric wires along the route.)

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Ciattarelli seeks to raise awareness on Tourette Syndrome

Press Release – Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli announced he will introduce a resolution on Monday that will dedicate June 4 of every year as Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day in New Jersey. Joining Ciattarelli Thursday at the Statehouse news conference was Faith Rice, executive director of the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome, and Hallie Hoffman – a student advocate for the NJCTS.

“Because Tourette syndrome continues to be a misunderstood disorder that is too often stigmatized, I am eager to work towards awareness to help the lives of those affected by this syndrome” Ciattarelli said.

Jack Ciattarelli

Characterized by involuntary physical and vocal tics, Tourette Syndrome is not degenerative and does not affect intelligence or life span. The tics are 100 percent involuntary and cannot be helped any more than an allergy-sufferer could stop sneezing.

There is no known cure and patients with minor symptoms do not require medication. It is an ailment that usually appears in children between the ages of 6 and 7, and affects men three to four times more than women.

“Tourette’s is more common than most people think,” said Rice. “So, early diagnosis, treatment and support are critical to ensure that individuals with TS are independent, contributing members of their community.”

Rice said that the Centers for Disease Control estimates that as many as one-in-a-hundred school age children express some degree of the condition.

“It affects every aspect of a child’s life: psychological, social, educational and physical,” continued Rice. “And very important, approximately 80 percent of people diagnosed with TS also have more than one mental health disorder.”

NJCTS, which is the only statewide center supporting people with the syndrome, has also launched a social media campaign with U.S. Men’s Soccer goalie Tim Howard to raise awareness. The campaign, called “The GreaTS,” encourages kids facing daily challenges of being different with Tourette to be proud and confident in themselves, and then spread this message with others.

“The most life changing experience NJCTS has given me is the Tim Howard leadership academy,” said Hoffman. “Prior to the academy, I had never met so many kids with Tourette and I had never met any adults with it. It was the first time I felt completely comfortable being myself.”

“Two statistics stand out,” concluded Ciattarelli. “One in one-hundred children experience Tourette syndrome and children can go six years without it being diagnosed. If anything, those two statistics point toward the need of advocacy and awareness.”

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Watch Ciattarelli’s press conference here: https://youtu.be/sYWW8yPry00
For more information about the social media awareness campaign, visit https://standwiththegreats.org.

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Bucco votes “no” on TTF bill; says it doesn’t help middle class

Source: PolitickerNJ – The Assembly Budget Committee on Thursday released A10, a bill aimed at replenishing New Jersey’s near-bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) and A11, a bill that amends certain NJ taxes in conjunction with the TTF changes. The move is part of a last-minute push by legislators to pass TTF funding legislation before the fund runs out on June 30…

Anthony M. Bucco

On Monday June 20, the legislation was introduced in both the state senate and the assembly. If eventually signed into law by the governor, the legislation stands to impose a $0.23 increase per gallon to the gas tax while cutting a number of other taxes including phasing out the estate tax. In the assembly chambers, there was a two-hour recess while legislators hammered out the final language of the bills and how they will amend already-existing statutory law.

If enacted, the bills stand to generate about $2 billion per year for the next ten years to be spent on New Jersey’s roads and infrastructure. While Governor Chris Christie has been resistant to any tax increases, the bipartisan nature of the gas tax legislation—the senate version of A10, S2412, is co-sponsored by Republican Steven Oroho (R-24)—has many supporters hopeful that the state can avoid a work stoppage caused by a lack of TTF funding. While Christie has been opposed to tax raises, there is hope that the across-the-board tax cuts that will accompany the increased gas tax may encourage the governor to sign the legislation…

According to Assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-25), his ‘no’ votes stem from the fact that the bills don’t help the middle class.

“Part of this package should have included increasing our tax brackets to the rate of inflation,” Bucco said. “If I could have that, I would be all in today. We all recognize that we live in a state that is the most expensive in the nation… but I have been here long enough to know that if we have more money, we are not giving out tax breaks. We are finding projects to spend it on…”

While Governor Christie said that the legislation is on the right track, he said he will not sign it if he does not feel it provides tax fairness.

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DiMaio, Peterson voice opposition to gas tax hike

Source: MyCentralJersey.com – New Jersey should not be allowed to raise its gas tax until the state finds a way to eliminate corruption and reduce the cost of road construction.

That was the main message at a Wednesday afternoon rally sponsored by Americans for Prosperity on Route 22 outside a district office of state Sen. Mike Doherty (R-District 23)…

John DiMaio

Assemblyman John DiMaio (R-District 23) said he doubted the money raised by the possible tax hike would go for roads, but would instead fund “pet projects” of legislators.

“We have to tighten our belts,” he said.

DiMaio also targeted the state Motor Vehicle Commission, which collected more than $1 billion in license and registration fees last year but needed only $313 million for its operating costs.

Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-District 23) also targeted construction costs.

“The DOT (Department of Transportation) has no idea of what it spends,” he said.

For example, he said, the worker who holds the stop-and-go sign at a road project gets paid $67 per hour.

Erik Peterson

“It’s a minimum wage job,” he said.

Peterson added that state Department of Environmental Protection regulations also drive up the cost of construction.

Legislators have proposed a 23-cent per gallon hike in the gas tax to 37.5 cents per gallon to fill up the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, which is running on empty.

At 14.5 cents per gallon, New Jersey has the second-lowest gas tax in the country. If the gas tax is approved and survives an expected veto by Gov. Chris Christie, New Jersey would have the seventh-highest gas tax in the nation.

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Rumana, Schepisi say gov’s school funding plan is balanced approach

Source: PolitickerNJ – A controversial proposal from Governor Chris Christie to change the state’s apportionment of school funding aid is drawing immediate, withering criticism from state Democrats. After unveiling the proposal to standardize state school aid at roughly $6,500 per pupil in every school district Tuesday, Christie also earned plaudits from Republican supporters who say the change would address longstanding inequities in certain suburban districts.

Scott Rumana

“Spending does not equal achievement. It never has and never will,” Christie said.

That change, which would offer wealthy districts up to eight times as much state aid as they currently receive, would decimate the budgets of urban districts like Newark and Paterson. Camden alone would see its budget shrink by more than two thirds…

…Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-21) joined his Assembly counterpart Jon Bramnick (R-21) in praising the effort, calling it an important step toward New Jersey’s famously high property taxes…

The Republican caucus has often called for changes to the formula in the past, with Doherty making it one of his signature issues along with Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11) and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-13). Assembly members Scott Rumana (R-40) and Holly Schepisi (R-39)weighed in in favor of the governor’s proposed changes, with Schepisi calling any opposition from legislators in districts that stand to gain irresponsible.

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

“The governor’s proposed formula makes sure that each child is given the same opportunity while reducing property taxes for homeowners,” Rumana said. “It provides a better balance to school funding for suburban districts like those in the 40th legislative district that have received subpar funding for many decades.”

“Other than a couple SDA districts, towns in Bergen and Passaic counties have carried the brunt of increasing property taxes, yet they have received the least amount of funding in the entire state,” Schepisi said. “Any legislator representing these counties who does not support this fair and balanced approach is failing to represent their own constituents.”

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Kean, Rumana: Christie school funding plan a fair formula

Source: App.com – Jim Jablonski pays nearly $10,000 in property taxes on his half-acre Millstone property, so when he heard that Gov. Chris Christie had proposed a plan to reduce property taxes by redistributing state aid to schools, he eagerly supported the plan.

Sean Kean

“Property taxes are ridiculous,” said 63-year-old Jablonski. “We need to lower property taxes and this is one common sense way to do it.”

Christie introduced his Fairness Formula on Tuesday that would redistribute school aid from urban and low-income schools, which receive a majority of aid under the current formula, to an equal amount distributed to students throughout the state, regardless of where they live and the financial need of the district they attend.

If the proposal were in effect for the coming school year, every public district in New Jersey would receive $6,599 in state aid for each student enrolled, Christie said. The formula would slash state support in low-income districts, but would be a windfall for affluent districts, where local tax dollars make up a larger share of per-pupil spending.

The governor said the Fairness Formula would cut property taxes for homeowners across three-quarters of the state…

Assemblyman Sean Kean, R-Monmouth, said the Fairness Formula represented a “step in the right direction.”

Scott Rumana

“More spending has never improved the quality of education,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “While the plan promotes educational fairness, it also lowers New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes.”

Republican Whip Scott Rumana, R-Passaic, said Christie’s plan would help suburban districts that have received “subpar” state funding.

Sharon Schulman, executive director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University, said Christie’s plan is spurring important discussion about radical ways to fix New Jersey’s tax crisis. Yet passing that plan through the Democrat-controlled Legislature is highly unlikely, she said.

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Dancer bill defending NJ military bases advancing in legislature

Source: Excerpt from Burlington County Times -

Legislation to appropriate taxpayer money each year for the defense of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and the state’s other military installations continues to advance through the Legislature.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee voted 10-0 on Monday to release the legislation without any discussion and clear it for a vote by the full Assembly.

The bill, sponsored by Ron Dancer, R-12th of Plumsted, would require the state to make an annual appropriation of up to $200,000 to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to fund studies and lobbying activities related to the preservation of the state’s five remaining military installations: Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Burlington and Ocean counties, Earle Naval Weapons Station in Monmouth County, 177th Fighter Wing in Atlantic County, and Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May County.

Ron Dancer

“The loss of any mission from our bases could trigger a financial disaster for the region,” Dancer said. “Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is a major economic engine. Only the state of New Jersey itself employs more people than the joint base.”

The bill would require an annual report on how the money is expended and would also require that the process for hiring any lobbyists or governmental affairs agents for assistance be open and competitive.

The 2016 fiscal year state budget included $200,000 for military installation defense, which was used to contract with a Washington lobbying firm to conduct research on each installation for a report recommending actions the state could take to enhance them and make them less vulnerable to closures and cutbacks by either the U.S. Department of Defense or a Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed budget for the upcoming 2017 fiscal year includes another $200,000 appropriation for the same purpose.

President Barack Obama’s proposed budget calls for a new round of base closures in 2019, but Congress has taken steps to block the request.

Dancer said New Jersey should still take action now to enhance the joint base and other military installations and prepare for a new round of closures. Both cited the bases’ importance to the state’s economy.

In addition to the legislation appropriating funding for installation defense, lawmakers on the Appropriations Committee approved a bill to create a permanent military ombudsman position in state government to spearhead efforts to enhance the economic viability of the installations.

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Ciattarelli, Republicans laud Christie’s school aid overhaul proposal

Source: 101.5 News – Gov. Chris Christie wants to entirely overhaul New Jersey’s school funding formula, providing every district the same amount of aid per student — which would be unconstitutional at present.

Christie Tuesday afternoon unveiled what he calls a “Fairness Formula” in remarks at Hillsborough High School, in a district that could see its state aid jump by around $8 million if the idea of giving every district $6,599 per regular-education student were to be enacted. That’s equal to almost 10 percent of the township’s school tax.

“A funding formula that puts a higher value on one child over another is morally wrong and it has been economically destructive. We cannot let it continue,” Christie said.

Jack Ciattarelli

“No one should be denied an education because of where they call home,” said Christie, who said urban schools would innovate like charters have if their funding were reduced. “And no one should have to sell their home because they can no longer afford the property taxes caused by a perverse school funding formula…”

About 75 percent of New Jersey school districts would see more aid under such an approach because disproportionate funding goes to high-poverty districts formerly known as Abbott districts, so named because of the long-running litigation that prompted the state Supreme Court to order extra funding.

Christie’s plan depends on a constitutional amendment to render that Supreme Court ruling moot. He would like the Legislature to put the question on the 2017 ballot.

“I think, since the Legislature has shown such a free and easy desire to amend the constitution that we should amend it to take this out of the court’s hands,” Christie said…

Many Republicans were quick to support Christie’s proposal. Among them were a few attending his announcement: Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean Jr., Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, who lives in Hillsborough.

“This conversation is long overdue, and this today jump-starts a very important discussion that we need to have in New Jersey. This is the key to the property tax crisis,” said Ciattarelli, a potential 2017 candidate for governor.

In the upcoming school year, $5.1 billion of the $9.1 billion in direct aid the state sends to school districts will be given to the 31 districts who receive additional funding as a result of the Abbott lawsuits. That’s 56 percent, to districts that educate 23 percent of students.

Christie said the 31 districts have received $97 billion in state aid over the last 30 years, while all the other districts have received $88 billion.

“Where did the money go? And what did you get in return for it?” Christie said. “But an even more important question than what did you get in return for it: What did those children and their families get in return for it?”

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Ciattarelli, Bramnick voice support for Christie school funding plan

Source: MyCentralJersey.com – In his final 18 months in office, Gov. Chris Christie will be on a mission that could turn out to be his lasting legacy — changing the way public education is funded in New Jersey.

Jack Ciattarelli

In an appearance Tuesday at Hillsborough High School in the heart of Republican-heavy Somerset County, Christie unveiled a “Fairness Formula” that would give an equal amount of state aid per student in New Jersey, whether they live in urban districts, such as Newark or New Brunswick, or suburban districts like Bridgewater-Raritan or Cherry Hill.

“No child in this state is worth more state aid than another,” the governor said, adding that the current funding formula is “immoral” and “perverse…”

Not surprisingly Christie’s proposal drew favorable reviews from suburban legislators and officials.

“This is a jump-start to a conversation we need to have,” said Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-District 16). “The funding formula has been an injustice of epic proportion.”

“Nothing is more fair than treating students equally no matter where they live,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-District 21)…

By changing the school funding formula, the state would also be taking a big step toward reducing property tax bills, which, Christie said, have been a top concern of New Jersey residents for years.

The core of the problem is a state Supreme Court ruling three decades ago that ordered massive amounts of state aid to the poorest 31 school districts in the state. The justices based their ruling on the clause in the state Constitution that guarantees a “thorough and efficient” education to all New Jersey children.

“We’ve had 30 years of failed government engineering,” the governor said, adding that New Jersey has had “30 years of failed policies by lawyers in black robes.”

Jon Bramnick

Of the $9.1 billion in state aid awarded this year to school districts, $5.1 billion — 58 percent — is given to those 31 districts, while 42 percent of the aid is given to the other 546 school districts, Christie said.

“The inequity is appalling,” he added.

But the increased state aid to the 31 urban districts has not produced results, Christie said.

​”We’re talking about 546 districts having to divide $88 billion over the last 30 years and 31 districts dividing $97 billion,” the governor said. “Where did the money go? And what did you get in return for it?”

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