Author: NJ Assembly Republicans

Bramnick calls on legislative leaders to meet before AC vote

Jon Bramnick

Source: PoliticoPro - Assembly Republican leader Jon Bramnick issued a statement this morning calling on legislative leaders to meet before the Assembly votes Thursday on Speaker Vincent Prieto’s Atlantic City rescue package.

“People expect their leaders to work together during a crisis, not against each other,” Bramnick said. “I call for the Legislative leaders of both houses to meet tomorrow at 11 a.m. to work out a compromise.”

The Assembly voting session is currently scheduled for 11 a.m. and party caucuses are scheduled for 9 a.m. Gov. Chris Christie has also called GOP Assembly members to the governor’s mansion for a breakfast, though he has said the meeting has nothing to do with Atlantic City.

The municipality, which considered defaulting on its debt this week, expects to have enough money to make its monthly payroll this Friday and to make a school tax transfer on May 15, according to Mayor Don Guardian. After that, the city will likely be out of money and be forced to shut down come early June — if not sooner.

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Bramnick calls for Legislative leaders to meet prior to Assembly vote on AC

Jon Bramnick

Press Release – Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick called for the Legislative leaders to meet before the Atlantic City takeover vote in the Assembly tomorrow and hammer out a compromise.

“People expect their leaders to work together during a crisis, not against each other,” said Bramnick (R-Union). “I call for the Legislative leaders of both houses to meet tomorrow at 11 a.m. to work out a compromise.”

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Problems Unveiled by SCI Report on Online Tax Sales Addressed in Dancer Legislation

Assembly Republican Press Release -

A critical report on New Jersey’s online municipal tax lien auctions issued Tuesday by the State Commission of Investigation recommended a series of remedies contained in legislation (A2887) introduced by Assemblyman Ron Dancer in February.

Ron Dancer

“Not only did the state’s investigation uncover serious weaknesses and flaws in the current online tax sale pilot process, it asserted the benefits in my bill as a comprehensive countermeasure that will save taxpayer money by increasing competition,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “In light of the SCI findings, it is my hope that the Legislature will move quickly to pass my bill. I think it is important to allow municipalities this opportunity prior to scheduling year-end municipal tax lien sales.”

The SCI report was critical of the Department of Community Affairs for its failure to issue any rules or regulations 15 years after legislation enacted in 2001 authorized electronic tax lien sales in New Jersey. Moreover, the department was chided for allowing a single contractor to dominate the market for online tax auctions without competitive bidding.

The report includes a footnote regarding Dancer’s bill: “In fact, legislation has recently been introduced in the General Assembly (A2887) that would effectively eliminate DCA’s pilot program by amending the 2001 electronic tax sale enabling statute such that pilot programs would no longer be permitted. … Accordingly, this legislation underscores the importance and necessity for DCA to efficiently establish such rules, regulations and procedures.”

“Every town is required to conduct a tax lien sale annually to recover money for delinquent taxes and fees for services. Almost 90 towns have utilized the current online electronic tax sale process, and the SCI report states that the process can be conducted in a fair and orderly fashion, allowing efficiencies,” Dancer said. “It is time to open this program up to competition, and make it easier for towns to participate and benefit. My legislation will expand and facilitate the online opportunity to hundreds of other municipalities, providing immediate relief to property taxpayers.”

CLICK HERE to view the Commission of Investigation report

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Food Fighting Fatigued Bramnick Wants to Force Trenton Leaders to Talk to One Another

Source: PolitickerNJ – If it feels a little like a sandbox in Trenton with communication consisting of sand getting kicked and thrown in fistfuls amid more lower primate howling than talking, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) wants to activate mandatory high chairs, position them in a uniformly forward-facing position, and require collective engagement of that ever elusive mode of interaction called human speech.

Jon Bramnick

Tired of toxic food fighting at the state capitol and the segmented relationship between Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Governor Chris Christie on one side and Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) on the other, with himself presumably left to wander the halls in no man’s land, Bramnick wants to nudge people together with a bill that would require state leaders to meet every three months at a “board of directors” type meeting.

Being drafted right now by the Office of Legislative Services as a reaction to the chill among the top leaders in Trenton over the Atlantic City mess, the bill would force the state’s top dogs into the same close-proximity dog pen.

“The four leaders and governor must meet and discuss the State of the State and report jointly to the public,” Bramnick explained. “The purpose is to require leaders to meet face to face.” The initial part of the meeting would be private and then there would be a portion open to the public.

A longtime champion of more civil interaction in state politics, Bramnick has grown increasingly vexed by what he sees as rule by dueling press conferences, wherein the principals chest thump to make points but no longer interface in a meaningful way.

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Ciattarelli calls for changes to fire regulations after N.J. industrial park fire

Source: NJ Advance Media -

In the aftermath of the massive warehouse fire at Veterans Industrial Park in February, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16th) has sent a letter to federal lawmakers asking that they reexamine “sovereign immunity” in an effort to make federal property used for commercial purposes subject to state and local fire regulations.

“Sovereign immunity” is a legal tenet by which the federal government cannot commit a legal wrong and is shielded from civil suit or criminal prosecution.

Ciattarelli, in a letter addressed to U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7th) dated April 28, wrote that the “sovereign immunity exemption is a contentious issue in the community.” He added that the fire in the four-building warehouse complex “brought to light federal regulations that run counter to state and local fire code regulations.”

The Veterans Industrial Park, located on Route 206, is owned by the Veterans Administration, which leases it to Quadro Realty, which in turn subleases the warehouse space.

Hillsborough fire officials have charged that an outdated sprinkler system and aging fire hydrants on the federally-owned property led to inadequate water pressure for firefighters trying to subdue the blaze that roared through the Hillsborough warehouse complex.

Jack Ciattarelli

“While a federally owned and operated property may be inspected and cited for fire code violations by local officials, it is not subject to enforcement/compliance due to sovereign immunity,” wrote Ciattarelli. “In the case of Veterans Industrial Park, this exemption extends to the private leasing company and commercial enterprise tenants.

“Said another way, no party is required to take corrective action for any violations cited by Hillsborough Fire Marshalls. Just as troubling, while Hillsborough Fire Marshalls are not necessarily required to inspect the federally-owned property, the federal government performs no inspections of its own.”

Hillsborough Chief Fire Marshal Chris Weniger has said that township had voiced its concerns on multiple occasions to Quadro, going back as far as 10 years. He has said if the township had jurisdiction, the sprinkler system and fire hydrants would have met fire code standards. He admitted the Quadro addressed some concerns.

“Regulations that exempt federal property used for governmental purposes from state and local fire codes are arguably bad. Regulations that exempt federal property used for commercial purposes from state and local fire codes are seemingly outrageous,” wrote Ciattarelli. “With this in mind, a change in federal regulations is warranted. Namely, at the very least, when federal property is leased to the private sector for commercial purposes, the lease agreements should state that tenants are subject to state and local fire codes, including complete compliance and citations for non-compliance.”

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O’Scanlon Statement Lauding Corrections for Setting New National Standard

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the Republican budget officer, issued the following statement commending the work of the state Department of Corrections and the Parole Board:

Declan O'Scanlon

“New Jersey has been an easy mark. Legislators, the media, entertainers and the public find it easy to point their fingers at the state and say ‘Things Stink!’ Often this declaration is with good cause: New Jersey ranks last in ‘such and such,’ New Jersey lags other states in ‘you name it,’ New Jersey has the highest rate in the history of the world of ‘some malady. It’s refreshing to know, however, that this isn’t the case every time. In something as crucial as preventing crime, rehabilitating offenders, reducing recidivism, New Jersey has become a successful model for other states to follow.

“Through addiction treatment services, and education and occupational training opportunities, not only are we locking up the bad guys, we are effectively preparing them for a successful transition to life outside the prison walls. Providing ex-offenders with the tools and resources to attain long-term employment and housing is the most effective way to slow the revolving door of return offenders.

“Clearly, the Governor’s leadership in how the courts and the prisons deal with addiction, incarceration and rehabilitation is paying dividends. It’s no wonder other states want to duplicate what New Jersey is doing.

“Dealing effectively with crime and incarceration is a win on every level — Lower crime impact on residents, lower costs of the criminal justice system and, on the moral level, people who are not in jail are people in their communities, working, spending time with family, and living productive lives. About all this – FEEL GOOD NEW JERSEY!”

  • New Jersey is the recognized leader in the reduction of recidivism and incarceration rates.
  • A recent publication by The Sentencing Project found 12 states with double-digit declines in prison population from 1999 to 2014. Only four states in the study reduced prison populations by 20 percent or more, and New Jersey stood above all the other examined states with a 31 percent decline.
  • The state recidivism rate during the same period decreased from 48 percent to 32 percent in 2015, one of the most significant reduction in the country.
  • The crime rate in New Jersey shrank by 20 percent between 2011 and 2014, and according to a crime survey by SafeWise released in 2015, “New Jersey’s crime rate is approximately 30 percent less than the typical state in the U.S.”
  • Inmates earned 3,000 vocational training certificates in 2015, in industries including masonry, culinary arts and horticulture
  • 38 high school diplomas and more than 340 high school equivalency diplomas were earned in 2015

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Bramnick on ‘richest man’s’ departure: ‘How can you blame him?’

Source: Excerpt from the New York Times -

Our top-heavy economy has come to this: One man can move out of New Jersey and put the entire state budget at risk.

Other states are facing similar situations as a greater share of income — and tax revenue — becomes concentrated in the hands of a few.

Last month, during a routine review of New Jersey’s finances, one could sense the alarm. The state’s wealthiest resident had reportedly “shifted his personal and business domicile to another state,” Frank W. Haines III, New Jersey’s legislative budget and finance officer, told a state Senate committee. If the news were true, New Jersey would lose so much in tax revenue that “we may be facing an unusual degree of income tax forecast risk,” Haines said.

The New Jersey resident (unnamed by Haines) is hedge-fund billionaire David Tepper.

In December, Tepper declared himself a resident of Florida after living for more than 20 years in New Jersey. He later moved the official headquarters of his hedge fund, Appaloosa Management, to Miami. … Florida has no income tax.

New Jersey won’t say exactly how much Tepper paid in taxes. According to Institutional Investor’s Alpha, he earned more than $6 billion from 2012 to 2015. Tax experts say his move to Florida could cost New Jersey — which has a top tax rate of 8.97 percent — hundreds of millions of dollars in lost payments.

Jon Bramnick

“If you’re making hundreds of millions of dollars and you’re paying close to 10 percent to the state of New Jersey, you do the math,” said Jon Bramnick, the Republican leader in the New Jersey Assembly. “You can save millions a year by moving to Florida. How can you blame him?”

Beyond the debate on taxing the rich, Tepper’s move is a case study in how tax collections are affected when income becomes very highly concentrated. With the top tenth of 1 percent of the population reaping the largest income gains, states with the highest tax rates on the rich are growing increasingly dependent on a smaller group of superearners for tax revenue.

In New York, California, Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey, the top 1 percent pay a third or more of total income taxes. Now a handful of billionaires or even a single individual like Tepper can have a noticeable impact on state revenues and budgets.

California had to account for a “Facebook effect” in 2012 and 2013 after that company’s 2012 initial public offering of stock. The offering generated more than $1 billion in revenue — much of that from the chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, and a small group of company shareholders.

Washington, D.C., had an unexpected $50 million gain in its fiscal 2012 — which helped create a budget surplus — after the death of a local billionaire increased its estate tax receipts.

Some academic research shows high taxes are chasing the rich to lower-tax states, and anecdotes of tax-fleeing billionaires abound. Other studies say there is little evidence showing the rich move solely for tax purposes. Millionaires and billionaires who move from the high-tax states in the Northeast to Florida, for instance, may be drawn by the sunshine, lifestyle and retirement culture, in addition to lower taxes.

Tepper regularly topped state wealth rankings as New Jersey’s richest resident. He also has homes in Miami Beach and the Hamptons. In 2012 and 2013, he also topped Alpha’s list of the highest-earning hedge fund managers, with estimated earnings of $2.2 billion in 2012 and $3.5 billion in 2013. His earnings fell to $400 million in 2014.

Tepper never publicly announced his move to Florida. It became public April 5, when Haines, citing a Bloomberg report, mentioned Tepper’s move in his remarks to the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. In discussing the move, Haines said, “Even a 1 percent forecasting error in the income tax estimate is worth $140 million.”

Tepper’s payments may have even been higher. If Tepper earned $3.5 billion in 2013, his state tax bill could have been more than $300 million, according to New Jersey accountants. Granted, his actual payments were probably far lower because of deferred income, charitable deductions and other accounting treatments. Yet Haines’ comments are believed to be the first time a state official has warned of a budget risk because of one resident’s relocation.


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O’Scanlon criticized Democrat plan for constitutional amendment to fund public pensions

Source: Excerpt from the Star-Ledger -

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney defended his proposal to constitutionally mandate billions of dollars in public-sector pension contributions on Friday from a Republican budget officer who argued that without union concessions New Jersey would go bust.

The debate at the Public Employment Conference, hosted by the state bar, was a replay of the debate in the Legislature last session and a telegraph of disagreements to come as the summer deadline for putting constitutional amendments on the ballot approaches.

Support for the amendment, which requires the state to gradually increase its annual payments into the public retirement fund, has fallen on traditional partisan lines. Democrats say the state must pay now or pay more later, while Republicans’ opposition is rooted in protecting taxpayers from severe spending cuts or tax hikes if the state economy is too sluggish to generate the cash to make the payments.

Declan O'Scanlon

State Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) argued Friday that the state will lose its leverage to negotiate benefits cuts if it gives away the constitutional amendment first.

The assemblyman said he believes New Jersey has a “moral obligation” to keep its retirement promises but that reforms are crucial.

“I favor a constitutional amendment to force us to make pension payments,” O’Scanlon said. “It’s just I don’t favor this one, and I don’t favor doing it without making sure we do it in conjunction with reforms that are absolutely essential, unless we want to face insolvency within a few years in New Jersey.”

His position reflects that in a proposal from Christie’s special pension commission, which suggested offering public employees the constitutional guarantee in exchange for an overhaul of pension and health benefits that would save the state and local governments billions of dollars.

O’Scanlon said the savings will never materialize if the amendment isn’t directly tied to reforms.

Democrats have enough votes to put the question on the November ballot without any Republican support. The Democratic-controlled Legislature needs only to approve the measure with a simple majority in back-to-back sessions.

The state and local unfunded liabilities reached $59 billion.

The constitutional amendment would create a guarantee public workers thought they had secured under a 2011 pension reform law that committed the state to incrementally paying more over seven years until it was making the full contribution recommended by actuaries. But Christie went back on that promise when the state ran into revenue problems, and the state Supreme Court ruled in June that he didn’t have to make the payments.

If the fund becomes insolvent, the state will have to come up with $8 billion out of pocket each year, he said. Under the proposed constitutional amendment, the annual payments will max out at about $5 billion and level off for a handful of years before dropping.

Sweeney said the state will pay for the rising bill with its natural revenue growth.

Christie’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins in July includes $1.9 billion for pensions.

While Sweeney said the amendment doesn’t prevent the state from making benefit cuts and that the unions were already burned once and need a show of good faith, O’Scanlon was more than a little skeptical.

“(Sweeney) may be an honorable man and intend to do that, but let me tell you, when you get the Legislature collectively together, occasionally we’re spineless,” he told the crowd. “If you’re going to try to get those reforms done after you’ve done the constitutional amendment guaranteeing the payments, I know several unions … will declare victory and will pound members of the Legislature into not coming back to the table to demand reforms. It simply will not happen unless you do the two things together.”

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Hillslborough Warehouse Fire Prompts Ciattarelli Call for Review of Sovereign Immunity

Source: Tap Into Hillsborough -

Jack Ciattarelli

The February warehouse fire in Hillsborough at Veterans Industrial Park has promoted Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli to ask federal lawmakers to revisit “sovereign immunity” so that federal property used for commercial purposes is subject to local fire regulations.

Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine by which the federal government cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from civil suit or criminal prosecution.

Ciattarelli’s request is in response to the fire at the Route 206 complex that is owned by the Veterans Administration (VA). The VA leases the property to a private company that subleases warehouse space to various commercial enterprises.

Although the federally owned and operated property may be inspected and cited for fire code violations by local officials, those local fire codes cannot be enforced due to sovereign immunity.

In a letter to U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, Ciattarelli (R-Somerset), wrote:

“The sovereign immunity exemption is a contentious issue in the community. Reason being, it is the municipality and its emergency management service agencies that are responsible for the public health and safety in responding to any dangerous event.”

The letter continues:

“Regulations that exempt federal property used for governmental purposes from state and local fire codes are arguably bad. Regulations that exempt federal property used for commercial purposes from state and local fire codes are seemingly outrageous.

“With this in mind, a change in federal regulations is warranted. Namely, at the very least, when federal property is leased to the private sector for commercial purposes, the lease agreements should state that tenants are subject to state and local fire codes, including complete compliance and citations for non-compliance.”

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DeCroce to introduce resolution calling for film industry to support Alzheimer’s research after Will Ferrell pulls out of ‘comedy’

Press Release – Following the recent death of her mother who suffered from dementia, Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce today she said she’s glad Will Ferrell pulled out of a ‘comedy’ about President Reagan and his struggles with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. She added that she will introduce a resolution calling on the film industry to get behind research to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

BettyLou DeCroce

BettyLou DeCroce

“I’m glad Will Ferrell came to his senses and withdrew from this project,” said DeCroce. “It concerns me that it had to take public outcry for him to realize that every human tragedy is not a comedy. I hope Mr. Ferrell will instead put his efforts into helping educate the public about this devastating disease which affects more than 5 million families in the U.S.”

Ferrell was set to play America’s 40th president in an upcoming comedy called “Reagan,” portraying the late president and his struggles with dementia before a public firestorm had him reconsider.

Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s daughter, took actor Will Ferrell to task in an open letter Thursday about the planned movie role as her father in his later years with Alzheimer’s.

“Alzheimer’s is a cruel, horrible disease that robs people of their mind and results in death,” concluded DeCroce. “Unless you’ve watched a loved one deteriorate as I have, you cannot imagine the fear and agony it causes people and their families.”

DeCroce represents parts of Morris, Passaic and Essex counties in the 26th legislative district.

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