Category: Clips

O’Scanlon expects revenue projections likely to be similiar

Declan O'Scanlon

Philadelphia Inquirer -

Budget gurus for the Christie administration and the Democratic-controlled Legislature are set to say how much money New Jersey will bring in this year – and unlike last year their views will likely align, lawmakers say.

The projections, which Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff and Office of Legislative Services director David Rosen will present to the Assembly Budget Committee on Monday, are important because they help determine how much money lawmakers and the governor can spend in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Divergent revenue projections also played a part in the governor’s decision last year to cut payments to the state public pension system, which angered Democrats as well as many of the state’s nearly 700,000 public sector pensioners.

This year, though, Democratic Budget Committee Chairman Gary Schaer says he expects the projections will be “much more realistic,” and Republican budget officer Declan O’Scanlon says he expects revenues to be on target this year. He attributed the difference last year to federal tax cuts on the wealthiest citizens that expired in 2013.

Democrats and Republicans aren’t predicting a significant difference in revenue projections, but they’re still at odds over how much to pay into the public pension fund and whether to increase taxes on gasoline to shore up the transportation trust fund.

The testimony comes as Democrats are pushing to change how revenue estimates are calculated.

Currently, the treasury calculates estimates, which the administration uses to craft its budget. (Legislators order up their own projections, but the governor is not obligated to abide by them.) The Democratic-controlled Assembly passed a bill last week that would put the revenue projection power into the hands of a three-person board with representatives from executive and legislative branches.

Republicans opposed the bill, saying the ability to certify revenues should rest with the executive.

“The governor has to be accountable about those certifications,” O’Scanlon said. “He admitted when he was wrong. Nobody gives him credit when he is right.”

 

 

 

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Brown, Christie urge Legislature to act on A.C. PILOT legislation

Source: Press of Atlantic City -

Gov. Chris Christie urged the Legislature to put a bill intended to stabilize Atlantic City’s tax base on his desk, his spokesman Kevin Roberts said Friday.

The Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, plan requires Atlantic City casinos to pay a total of $150 million to Atlantic City for two years, and $120 million annually for the following 13 years. The county negotiated to receive 13.5 percent of those payments.

Chris A. Brown

Assemblyman Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, said he’s been calling on his colleagues to move the bill.

“The governor affirms what I have been saying,” Brown said. “Once I was able to bring Mayor Guardian and Executive Levinson together to protect our hardworking families throughout Atlantic County from a $9 million tax increase, I have worked in a bipartisan manner and have been calling on my colleagues ever since: move the bill so we can stop the bleeding.”

“The Governor looks forward to combining the efforts of the Emergency Manager with those of Mayor Guardian and the legislation proposed by the Senate President to bring real, long lasting fiscal stability to Atlantic City,” Roberts said in an email. “The Governor urges the Legislature to put just such legislation on his desk for signature.”

 

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Casagrande, Kean others want law to protect mentally challenged

Caroline Casagrande

Sean Kean

Source: Asbury Park Press -

Political support is growing fast for stronger laws to protect adults with developmental disabilities, after the Asbury Park Press broke a story this week of a Howell teen with autism who escaped death when he jumped off a Manasquan jetty into the frigid ocean in February on a dare.

Senator Jennifer Beck, Assemblyman Sean Kean and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, all R-Monmouth, also said they are doing research to craft a law that would make it a crime to put people with developmental disabilities in harm’s way. Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth) and Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, (R-Ocean) are on board with the idea, Casagrande said.

And Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said he will consider changes to existing laws and will convene a meeting with policy groups, people with developmental disabilities and their families to discuss ways to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“The great news is, there seems to be a political will in Trenton to get some protections on the books for developmentally disabled people, now that everyone has read the horror story of what happened to Parker Drake,” Casagrande said.

Drake told the Asbury Park Press that two of his so-called friends called him on Feb. 25 and said they would give him $20 and two packs of cigarettes to go into the ocean and stay there for a minute. Then, they drove him to Manasquan, took him out on a jetty and told him to jump, Drake said.

The young man jumped off the jetty and found himself struggling in freezing water over his head while the other two men laughed and recorded a video that they later placed on the social media site Snapchat, he said. The ocean’s temperature was 30 degrees Fahrenheit that day.

Drake told the Asbury Park Press he thought he was going to drown. His mother, Christine Marshall, said her son also was at risk of death from hypothermia or because his insulin pump froze.

Kean, who is municipal prosecutor in Bradley Beach, called Drake’s experience “horrifying” but said he couldn’t think of any indictable offense on the books that the two men could be charged with. He said he contacted the Office of Legislative Services to begin research on crafting a new law that will pass constitutional muster.

“We want to make sure its constitutional, otherwise, it won’t do what we want,” Kean said. “If it’s not done carefully, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.”

Casagrande said she would like to convene hearings in the Legislature to consider an umbrella law to protect not only children and the developmentally disabled, but also the elderly.

“Some people reached out to me today to say, ‘How can we get this done?”’ Casagrande said Friday. “There’s going to be lots of people pushing and pulling for this.”

Sweeney, the Democratic Senate president, appears to be one of them.

“I will look at the law and consider changes to protect individuals from such unconscionable actions, but the young men who committed this act need to take a long, hard look in the mirror,” Sweeney said. “A law may not change them, but it could protect those they prey on.”

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Parker Space on Assembly backs naming Route 15 in Sussex after Senator Littell Read more at Assembly approval of naming Route 15 in Sussex after Senator Littell

Source: PolitickerNJ -

The members of the General Assembly this afternoon unanimously voted to designate the Sussex County portion of State Highway Route No. 15 as the “Senator Robert E. Littell Memorial Highway.”

Parker Space

“Senator Littell was dedicated not only to the constituents he represented, but all of New Jersey. His commitment to public service is an example to everyone that you can make a difference. Senator Littell loved his family and this great state. We can never truly thank him for his many contributions to New Jersey, but seeing his name on Rt. 15 will always remind us of someone who cared deeply about helping people.” – Asm. Parker Space

The longest-serving legislator in New Jersey history history, Republican Senator McHose of Sussex died late last year.

His daughter, Assemblywoman Alison McHose Littell (R-24), choked up when she remembered her father on the floor of the assembly.

Assembly Bill 2656 passed 73-0.

“Senator Littell was dedicated not only to the constituents he represented, but all of New Jersey,” said Assemblyman Parker Space (R-24). “His commitment to public service is an example to everyone that you can make a difference. Senator Littell loved his family and this great state. We can never truly thank him for his many contributions to New Jersey, but seeing his name on Rt. 15 will always remind us of someone who cared deeply about helping people.”

 

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Bramnick on gas tax hike talks

Source: NJ 101.5 -

Negotiations to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), possibly with an increase in the gas tax, have not broken off despite published reports to the contrary, according to leaders in the General Assembly. They said the talks continue, but politics is at play and that could stall a gas tax hike for the time being.

Jon Bramnick

The top Republican in the Assembly agreed that talks to fund the TTF were continuing. Assembly GOP Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) said sometimes there are slow periods in negotiations and sometimes there are periods where there’s rapid movement. TTF talks are somewhere in the middle he explained.

“I think negotiations are moving along,” Bramnick said. “We need tax fairness. If we’re going to raise a gas tax I think the people of New Jersey would like to see other taxes reduced.”

All 80 seats in the Assembly are up for grabs in this November’s elections. Bramnick acknowledged fear of voter backlash could have [members on both sides of the aisle] skittish about voting in favor of a gas tax hike until after Election Day.

“I think there are probably legislators who are afraid to vote for any type of increase whatsoever on taxes and I suspect that might be playing a role,” Bramnick said.

Another factor at play could be the fact that Gov. Chris Christie recently said the TTF was not in crisis mode.

“I’m hopeful that the Senate president and the speaker and I will be able to come to a resolution sooner rather than later, but, you know, again, it’s not a crisis at the moment, because we’re funded pretty well now,” said Christie in the February edition of Townsquare Media’s “‘Ask the Governor” program.

As the governor mulls a run for president in 2016, many insiders said he would not want to sign a gas tax increase into law right before throwing his hat in the ring.

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Gove, Rumpf oppose bill to establish stormwater utilities

Source: The Sandpaper - Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove of the 9th District are opposing legislation that would allow counties and municipalities to establish stormwater utilities empowered to impose charges on ratepayer…

DiAnne Gove

The legislation would authorize a county, county utilities authority, municipality, or municipal utilities authority to regulate combined sewer overflows, to establish, provide and maintain a stormwater utility for the purpose of creating a stormwater management system to manage stormwater runoff. Entities created by the bill would be authorized to impose user fees..

“Imposing fees to pay for a new government bureaucracy is a surefire way to scare away capital investment into our state,” Gove noted. “If you’re a business looking to expand or relocate to New Jersey, does the prospect of paying higher fees while being subjected to regulations by a just-established government bureaucracy play into your decision? Absolutely. If you’re an affected ratepayer, you’ll have less disposable income which, in itself, has economic ramifications for local businesses.”

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Dancer on Assembly approval of bill to protect horse racing simulcasts in Atlantic City

Source: Press of Atlantic City -

Legislation to protect the simulcasting of horse races in Atlantic City was approved by the state Assembly on Thursday.

The bill, A-3972, allows casinos to negotiate with out-of-state racetracks for signal fees.

Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa is the last horseracing simulcast facility in Atlantic City. Current law limits the fee a casino can pay for the transmission signal.

A statement from Assembly Republicans said without the enactment of this bill, which permits a higher fee, the Borgata will lose the signal for races from Churchhill Downs, some of the most prestigious races in the country.

Ron Dancer

“We only have once casino left where you can bet on and watch horses,” Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth, said in a statement. “This is a matter of survival.”

Dancer said for simulcasting to continue in Atlantic City, the casino needs to be able to show the top stakes races and best horses.

“This bill is about keeping pace with the market,” Dancer said.

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Republicans comment on bill naming highway for Sen. Robert E. Littell

Source: Excerpted from the New Jersey Herald -

Assembly Republicans comment unanimous passage by the Assembly of a bill to name a section of Route 15 in memory of the late state Sen. Robert E. Littell.

Parker Space

Asm. Parker Space: “Senator Littell was dedicated not only to the constituents he represented, but all of New Jersey. His commitment to public service is an example to everyone that you can make a difference. … We can never truly thank him for his many contributions to New Jersey, but seeing his name on Route 15 will always remind us of someone who cared deeply about helping people.”

Michael Patrick Carroll

Asm. Michael Patrick Carroll: “The Littell family is well known for its commitment to serving in government. His constituency not only included Sussex County residents, but everyone in New Jersey. Serving the public for over four decades is testimony to the respect, trust and confidence the senator earned from his constituents.”

Anthony M. Bucco

Asm. Anthony M. Bucco: “Senator Littell and my father served together for many years in the state Senate and on the budget committee. He will always be remembered as a devoted husband and father. Words cannot adequately express our appreciation for his service and contributions that make New Jersey a better place to live.”

Scott Rumana

Asm. Scott Rumana: “Senator Littell was the epitome of a dedicated public servant, not only for his constituents in Sussex County, but all of New Jersey. His commitment to public service was exemplary. It is fitting that we honor him by naming a section of Route 15 in his memory so everyone remembers his devotion to New Jersey.”

 

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Bucco: sunset provision of bill to increase scrutiny of incentive programs is harmful

Source: NorthJersey.com -

A Democrat-backed bill that would require New Jersey to more closely scrutinize the programs through which the state awarded more than $2 billion in corporate tax breaks in 2014 gained final legislative approval Thursday and now sits on the governor’s desk.

Anthony M. Bucco

The Assembly voted 43 to 31 along party lines to approve the bill, which sharpens the language of an existing law requiring the state to prepare an annual report on the “tax expenditures,” or tax breaks awarded that reduce state revenue…

A Republican opponent, however, said the bill would “mire” the administration in “more paperwork with less time to report its findings.”

Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco, R-Morris, said a section in the bill that would require all new incentives to sunset after 10 years would be particularly harmful to efforts to attract businesses and jobs to the state.

“The business community is looking for predictability and stability in deciding where to operate,” said Bucco, adding that the sunset clause will mean “businesses will leave or not locate here at all, including small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy.”

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Asbury Park Press Editorial: Get justice for Parker Drake

Caroline Casagrande

Asbury Park Press Editorial -

Some legal cases simply make your blood boil, particularly cases when law enforcement either cannot or will not press charges on behalf of the victim.

One such case — one of the most egregious we can ever recall — is that of Parker Drake, 19, a developmentally disabled young man. Last month, he accepted a dare from two “friends,” Nicholas Formica, 20, and Christopher Tilton, 19, both of Howell, to jump off the Manasquan jetty into the 30-degree water for $20 and two packs of cigarettes.

While he fought in subzero water to get to dry land, they laughed at his distress and filmed his struggle.

What were the two men charged with? Nothing.

Local police and the Monmouth County Prosecutor said their hands were tied. Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni explained the decision not to bring criminal charges against the two men this way: “We thoroughly explored it and found there is no criminal statute that fits the conduct,” he said. “It appears to be men exhibiting bad judgment.”

Bad judgment? They easily could have killed Drake. Apparently, according to the prosecutor, because Drake was an adult, and because he agreed to the dare, the two men could not be charged.

It’s hard to believe the police and prosecutor couldn’t find some statute related to bullying, reckless endangerment, bias crimes (against the disabled and incompetent) or some broader protections for the developmentally disabled that couldn’t have applied to this situation.

But they didn’t. As a result, Drake’s mother, Christine Marshall, was left to fend for herself. She hired an attorney, Lisa Krenkel of Allenhurst, and after being put through hoops in municipal court, she was finally able to file a complaint against the two men for disorderly conduct.

If, in fact, no law applies to this case, it’s outrageous. The two police departments involved and the county prosecutor should be leading a campaign to get the state Legislature to amend the laws to protect the developmentally disabled against the type of inhumane treatment perpetrated against Drake — whether the victims are 9 or 90. Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, who has introduced legislation to protect special needs students in the past, would be an ideal point person in Trenton.

The only thing more disgraceful than the actions of the two Howell men was the ordeal Drake’s mother has had to go through on her own to seek justice. Drake and Marshall say they want justice and to raise awareness of the need for unambiguous laws to protect developmentally disabled people from such situations.

The two Howell men deserve to have the book thrown at them. If the book doesn’t apply to these heinous acts, it needs to be rewritten. Local law enforcement and legislators need to work together to ensure justice is served in this case, and in any other similar cases involving the developmentally disabled in the future.

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