Category: Clips

Handlin addresses school funding at APP summit


Amy Handlin

Source: – Overfunded school districts with declining enrollment. Growing school districts with inadequate funding. Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal for equal school funding for every child, whether rich or poor.

Those were some of the topics addressed Saturday at an education summit hosted by the Asbury Park Press and the Asbury Park/Neptune National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The forum also offered a mini-education fair for attendees that included college funding advice from the State Department of Higher Education, and the opportunity to chat with representatives from Georgian Court and Rutgers universities, Brookdale Community College, fraternity Omega Psi Phi, Old Bridge Flight School and more about their offerings…

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, a Monmouth County Republican representing the 13th district, said she believes the key to education and property tax relief is pension reform.

“We must achieve pension and benefit reform,’’ Handlin said. “There is no place else to get the money that would be needed without drastically increasing taxes. …Pension and benefit reform is inextricably linked to how we fund our schools.’’

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Brown lauds suspension of north jersey casino media campaign

Source: Press of Atlantic City – A nonprofit campaign favoring the expansion of casino gaming to North Jersey has thrown up the white flag.

Our Turn NJ announced Thursday it was suspending its paid media campaign, citing poor polling data among the factors.

Chris A. Brown

“The current political climate in New Jersey and voters’ concerns about the lack of details relating to the effort have proved overwhelming,” Paul Fireman and Jeff Gural, supporters of expanding casino gaming beyond Atlantic City, said in a statement.

Voters will decide whether to approve as many as two casinos in North Jersey during the Nov. 8 election. The ballot question states the new casinos must be in separate counties and at least 72 miles from Atlantic City, where four casinos closed in 2014 and another, Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, is set to close Oct. 10. Deutsche Bank said last year that North Jersey casinos could generate $500 million in gambling revenue…

A recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll found only 40 percent of voters supported expanding casino gaming in the state.

“I am glad after two years of fighting we’ve proven it was pure folly for anyone to claim North Jersey casinos were inevitable and that building them in an oversaturated market while cannibalizing Atlantic City would somehow help the state of New Jersey let alone the families of Atlantic County, and shows the question should have never gotten on the ballot in the first place,” said Assemblyman Chris Brown, R-Atlantic.

While Our Turn NJ has suspended its campaign, Meadowlands Regional Chamber officials said they will continue to fight for casinos in the northern part of the state.

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Rumana, McGuckin, DeCroce weigh in on roadwork shutdown


Scott Rumana

NJ101.5 – Roadwork that’s been shuttered since early July at the governor’s direction is going to cost extra once it’s eventually restarted. An Assembly panel has endorsed the idea of making sure the state pays for that, not municipalities and counties.

The costs associated with stopping and restarting construction projects haven’t been calculated and aren’t even clear. But contractors say there’s a cost, and local governments fear being sued for stopping projects for months. Local officials have a sympathetic ear in the Assembly transportation committee…

New Jersey can’t pay for roadwork because all of the money that goes into the Transportation Trust Fund, including the 14.5 cents a gallon in gas taxes, is now being used to pay off $16 billion in debt. Gov. Chris Christie and a majority of lawmakers have agreed to a 23-cent a gallon gas-tax hike, but they can’t agree on accompanying tax cuts being pursued as part of a political bargain.

Gregory P. McGuckin

As a result, most state-funded roadwork has been stopped since early July. The costs for moving and securing heavy equipment and idled job sites will vary. Even now, in the 13th week since the impasse began, there aren’t any specific projections of the financial impact.
“The fact is that we have no cost estimate, and that’s one of the reasons why I can’t support this bill, because we have no idea where this goes. We have no money in the TTF right now,” said Assemblyman Scott Rumana, R-Passaic…

Assemblyman Gregory McGuckin, R-Ocean, said he understands why local governments would want the state to pay but noted that, in the end, it’s the same group of taxpayers.

He voted against the bill, saying he doubts contractors are going to sue because they understand the shutdown occurred because state funding wasn’t available.
“Is there really a possibility that this is going to be a legal detriment to the municipalities and counties? Is that really a legal likelihood? Because I quite frankly don’t think so,” McGuckin said.

All the Democrats on the Assembly transportation committee voted for the bill. One Republican did, too: Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, R-Morris,who called for cooler heads to prevail and for an overall solution to the TTF impasse to be found.

BettyLou DeCroce

BettyLou DeCroce

“It’s very hard on the taxpayers,” DeCroce said. “We’re in a very bad position right now and of great concern to any of us that care about the economic viability of this state.”

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Bramnick on stage: Two N.J. lawmakers walk into a comedy club …

Source: The Star-Ledger -

Jon Bramnick

In the world of New Jersey politics, it’s no secret that state Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick sometimes moonlights as a standup comedian.

But on Tuesday, he won’t be the only member of the state Legislature telling jokes in front of a brick wall.

Bramnick (R-Union) and state Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) will both perform standup sets for charity that night at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick.

It’s not a shocker, per se. Codey, a former New Jersey governor, is often quick with a quip in interviews.

“He’s got some pretty good jokes,” Bramnick said of his colleague from across the aisle. “I’ve laughed at couple of his policies, too.”

The idea came when the two were playing golf together.

“I guess I played so bad, it was funny,” Codey said. “Jon said, ‘Hey why don’t we do this comedy thing?’”

Bramnick said despite the cracks at each other, the goal is actually to prove that members of opposing parties can get along at a time when partisan attacks are at an all-time high.

“In this world, you have incredible animosity,” he said. “So I thought, ‘Why don’t we put that to good use and do standup for charity?’ It’s really important to do things to show people we don’t hate each other.”

They decided they would play to raise money to combat Alzheimer’s Disease.

Vinnie Brand, the standup comedian who owns the Stress Factory, will open the show. Regular tickets are $40. VIP tickets — which include a meet-and-greet — are $50.

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Bucco: Let’s celebrate, teach and remember the U.S. Constitution [op-ed]

Source: Star-Ledger op-ed by Anthony M. Bucco -

Anthony M. Bucco

Today our nation commemorates Constitution Day, which recognizes and celebrates the adoption of the document that serves as the foundation of our government.  This is one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of humankind, right up there with the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence.  We should celebrate what our founding fathers debated to give the citizens of the United States of America a free and just society.

I am often saddened by the lack of education about the Constitution.  When John Quincy Adams began public schools it was to teach reading, writing, arithmetic and civics to all children.  Unfortunately, the Constitution is too often misunderstood, and consequently used for special interests that are not those of the American people.

Ratified on September 17, 1787, by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, the U.S. Constitution was never intended to be a living document subject to arbitrary changes.  Rather, its framers knew it was imperative to establish a government that would stand the test of time, through checks and balances, and states’ and citizen’s rights.  It created a nation of united states, not a nation made up of states.  When Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government we had been given, he replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Two-hundred and twenty-nine years later, the Constitution still sets us apart from every other nation by guaranteeing our basic rights.  While it remains the law of the land, it’s also clear that today the Constitution is under threat, even by those who have pledged to uphold and protect it.

Protecting our freedoms and balancing the power of government was exactly what the fifty-five delegates to the convention wanted when they framed the Constitution.  Their plan called for three equal branches of government, where the legislative branch creates laws, the executive enforces them and the judicial branch judges the law’s constitutionality.

Today it seems we have a federal government extending its powers and branches of government despite our founding Fathers intent.  Executive orders are too plentiful and try to do too much without the input of the legislative branch.  Recently, the president issues mandates, the Supreme Court extends federal power, and Congress has rendered itself inactive.

The Washington Times reported in June that U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Posner claimed that he saw absolutely no value for a judge to study the Constitution.  He said, “Eighteenth-century guys, however smart, could not foresee the culture, technology, etc. of the 21st century.”  The judge, who is also a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, added, “Let’s not let the dead bury the living.”

Judge Posner couldn’t be more wrong.  If our judges don’t know what is in the Constitution or respect it, how can they possibly uphold its intent?

Thomas Jefferson said, “I think, myself, that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.”  That was almost three-hundred years ago, before the great expansion of our federal government in the 20th century.  At that time, taxing income was still unconstitutional, the right to bear arms was not infringed and free speech was not bound by political correctness.  And yet, the abuses of Andrew Jackson at that time, no matter how small in comparison today, were still too much for Jefferson to stomach.

Unfortunately the broad overreach of power our founders hoped to protect us from is evident.  From executive orders creating amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, to similar orders destroying the coal industry that President Obama himself said were unconstitutional, government overreach can be found everywhere.  Ironically, IRS officials specifically targeted conservative groups for their views, then used the constitution to plead the Fifth Amendment.  If this is any indication, and I think it is, that our nation’s path is straying farther from where the founders started.

The ideas of the founding fathers should not be lost on us.  They were constructed via fierce debate between 55 delegates chosen to represent their state.  They are the result of that debate and were created to withstand the test of time, even molding itself to a future that could not be predicted, to uphold the liberties of the people of this great nation.

I believe education is the best defense against ignorance.  It’s time to get back to the basics and start teaching the constitution with the same passion as math and science.

To that end, the state’s General Assembly passed a joint resolution (AJR-72) on Thursday that I sponsored to designate the week of Sept. 17 through September 23 of each year as “Constitution Week.”  This commemoration is meant to remember and honor the signing of the Constitution, and to raise public awareness of the important role it plays in the lives of American citizens.

I can only hope that this resolution makes an impact across the state even as our nation strays farther from the path our founding fathers intended.  The federalist papers are that path’s guide to constitutional intent and many students and adults are unaware of its contents.

Now more than ever we are immersed in education, but have lost sight of an essential part of our great American lives.  The Constitution is one of the greatest documents in the history of humankind, let’s celebrate, teach and remember its protections and purposes, and the crucial role it plays in ensuring our freedoms.

Happy Constitution Day!

Anthony Bucco has been an assemblyman since 2010, serving as the Republican deputy leader since 2012.  A lifelong resident of Boonton, he represents parts of Morris and Somerset counties in the 25th Legislative District.

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Do-nothing Dems blocking property tax relief, Republicans charge


Scott Rumana

Source: – Minutes before the state Assembly met for its first voting session since June, Republicans sharply criticized Democratic leaders Thursday for posting “nothing” on the agenda that addresses the state’s most significant issues: school funding and property tax relief.

Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-Passaic) likened the list of bills to Seinfeld, the ’90s show that was famously “about nothing,” and said “we are not here as a comedy – we are here to get work done for the state.”

Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris) said Democrats should feel instead a “sense of urgency to solve the crushing burden of property taxes. Instead, “they are trying to run out the clock on the Christie administration.”

Jay Webber

Christie’s term ends in January 2018.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) compared the Democrats’ “inertia” on changing the school funding formula to a basketball game. “In essence they are freezing the ball.”

The impromptu press conference took place at the Statehouse just as Gov. Chris Christie announced he had asked the state Attorney General to reopen the landmark Abbott v. Burke case, which has required the state to dedicate more money to needy, mostly urban school districts over those in largely suburban, more affluent areas.

The Republican governor made the announcement on the latest stop of his “fairness formula” tour to promote his proposal that would give every school district $6,599 per pupil. The proposal would significantly reduce aid to urban districts while lowering property taxes in many suburban towns.

Christie asks Supreme Court to revisit landmark Abbott ruling

“The governor comes up with a proposal. He’s out there, he’s willing to have the legislature vote on it,” Bramnick said. “What are the Democrats voting on today? Nothing.”

Jon Bramnick

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Kean bill would cap property taxes for seniors

Source: Asbury Park Press – A Monmouth County lawmaker wants to cap property taxes for New Jersey residents once they hit 65 years old, a move he said would slow the exodus of middle-class seniors from the Garden State.

Assemblyman Sean Kean, R-Monmouth, introduced a bill that would let voters decide if they want to amend the state constitution to give senior citizens the property tax break.

Sean Kean

“I understand that it’s a big deal to amend the constitution, but this would be an extremely beneficial measure not only to help seniors, but to keep them in the state,” he said. “In the long term, it helps our economy.”

Under his proposal, seniors’ property tax bills would be frozen at whatever amount they were paying once they turned 65, regardless of their income. If a senior bought a new house, their taxes would be capped at whatever taxes they pay in the first year they own that home…

Kean’s proposal is different than the Property Tax Reimbursement program, commonly known as “senior freeze,” where seniors pay their full property tax bill up front and get a reimbursement in subsequent years. Senior freeze also has income restrictions that have slowly squeezed out eligible participants over the years.

Kean said he came up with the proposal after working with residents of Equestra, a 55-and-older community in Howell that saw significant increases in their property tax bills as a result of Monmouth County’s Assessment Demonstration Program.

Residents there were seeing increases in their tax bills of $2,000 to $3,000 each year, Kean said. While his proposal does not target the county’s property tax pilot program directly, it does address an underlying issue for many property owners: New Jersey’s ever increasing property tax burden.

“This would give seniors certainty as to what taxes they are going to be paying,” he said. “Not only are we not giving them certainty (now), we are pricing them out of the state.”

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Brown: North Jersey casino resolution a gimmick

Source: Press of Atlantic City – Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Essex, is set to introduce a resolution Thursday that will detail how revenue from North Jersey casinos would be used if the state’s voters approve gambling outside of Atlantic City in November.

However, the measure does not state what the tax rate would be for North Jersey casinos if they are approved.

Chris A. Brown

Voters will decide whether or not to approve as many as two casinos in North Jersey during the Nov. 8 general election. The ballot question states the new casinos must be in separate counties and at least 72 miles from Atlantic City, where four casinos closed in 2014 and another, Trump Taj Mahal, is set to close Oct. 10…

Assemblyman Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, called Caputo’s resolution a gimmick, saying it “is simply the same old song with a different verse that still fails to provide a specific tax rate and fails to answer how cannibalizing Atlantic City’s gaming market by causing the loss of another 14,000 jobs and the closure of more casinos will somehow help Atlantic County’s working families and retirees.”

A portion of the proposed North Jersey casino revenue would be dedicated to providing job placement for workers who lost their jobs when casinos closed, according to the proposed resolution. Money also will be provided for continued promotional support for Atlantic City as a destination resort, the resolution states.

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Peterson, DiMaio remember those killed in 9/11 during annual tribute

Source: Lehigh Valley High – Never forget.

That was the phrase stressed by speakers in poems, speeches and readings as Warren County residents Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history.

Erik Peterson

More than 100 people gathered at the Warren County Patriot Day Observance event at the county’s 9/11 and Emergency Service Memorial in Franklin Township. Besides residents, attendees included friends and family members who lost loved ones in the line of duty, as well as police, fire and EMS officials, county officials, Scouts and military service members..

Words were said by Joan Biondi, legislative aide to Assemblyman John DiMaio, R-Warren/Hunterdon; Freeholder Edward J. Smith; Assemblyman Erik Peterson R-Warren/Hunterdon and Department of Public Safety Director Frank E. Wheatley.

Peterson said his 7-year-old son, who just started learning about 9/11 in school, came home and asked, “Why do we want to remember it?”

The child, Peterson said, didn’t understand why a horrible, tragic event should be remembered.

“So we never forget who died,” Peterson said. “We can never forget — not the actual act itself — but the people who perished in 9/11. These were people just going to work.”

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Munoz, Bramnick pay tribute at 9/11 ceremony in Berkeley Heights


Nancy Munoz

Source: Tap into Berkeley Heights - A larger than usual crowd attended the 9/11 Memorial Ceremony on Sunday morning at 9/11 Memorial Park to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the attacks to the Twin Towers in New York and sections of the Pentagon in Washington. The devastating events of that day claimed 2,996 lives in New York City, Arlington, VA, and Shanksville, PA and were the catastrophic catalyst of countless stories of heartbreak and heroism…

As the nation and community commemorates the horrific attacks of 9/11, the common message of remembrance was echoed by Mayor Bob Woodruff, Senator Tom Kean, Assemblywoman Nancy Muñoz and Assemblyman Jon Bramnick — remembering the 2,996 lives lost, the heroes that were produced and the return of unity felt as a nation and community…

Assemblywoman Muñoz remembers the unity felt in the aftermath. “We came together in unity to fight the foe,” said Muñoz. “The civility that we had, the unity we had as a nation — we want a return to that civility, that era — that time 15 years ago — when we looked out for our neighbors. That’s the America I love, that’s the America I believe you love. It was a terrible day, we were united in our despair, in our grief and let’s remain united as a nation that respects one another — respects people of all faiths, religions and backgrounds.”

Jon Bramnick

For those that were too young and don’t remember that day, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick shared the sentiment of many, “When we wake up the morning of 9/11 — you feel the pain– the fear that you felt back then, it never goes away because our country was under attack.” He reminded the crowd to stand in unity. “Today we have to reunite and stand together as one nation and show the strength that we need to those who believe that America is evil — we can never do that if we attack our own institution.”

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