Tag: Caroline Casagrande

Casagrande bill provides help for small businesses in NJ

NJ 101.5 -

A Garden State lawmaker is sponsoring legislation that’s designed to help small businesses hold onto their workers and create new positions at the same time.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande’s (R-Freehold) measure would establish a small business job creation and preservation account program to encourage small business workforce expansion in New Jersey.

Caroline Casagrande

“It would allow businesses with no more than 100 workers to have tax-free savings accounts to keep those jobs in New Jersey and to expand new jobs,” she said. “This would allow for small businesses to create jobs and to preserve jobs that are in danger of being eliminated.”

She said while there are many programs designed to help larger corporations, smaller companies are often left behind.

“It’s really hard for us to target them, to micro-target them in a way that we are just focusing, like a laser on job creation, and that’s exactly what this bill does,” Casagrande said.

Casagrande said she’s been studying other states that have had success in job creation – including New York, where the savings account idea began – and it’s working well.

“We have to find a way to encourage small businesses to create jobs,” she said. “Knowing they are half our employers in the state of New Jersey. This is a great way to grow the private sector in New Jersey, and really the Main street private sector, not necessarily the giant corporations.”

She added economic growth must be the state’s top priority, and the bill will hopefully be considered as soon as possible by the Legislature.

 

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Casagrande Continues to Support Economic Rebound with Job Creation Bill

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Monmouth County Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande is continuing to make job creation and economic growth her top priorities as New Jersey transitions from summer into the fall.

Caroline Casagrande

“It is not acceptable that a state as great as New Jersey, with as much as we have to offer, continues to lag behind in these important areas,” stated Casagrande, R- Monmouth.

Casagrande believes fresh ideas are needed to continue New Jersey’s economic rebound. She has introduced a bill to establish a small business job creation and preservation account program to incentivize small business workforce expansion in New Jersey.

“The legislation allows taxpayers to earn tax-free interest on account balances that are used to create or preserve full-time jobs,” said Casagrande.

The bill, A-3573, limits the program to small businesses independently owned and operated; are not dominant in their field; employ no more than 100 workers; and have no record of a state tax assessment associated with fraud or negligence.

“It is my hope this bill will be taken up as swiftly as possible in our Legislature,” continued Casagrande. “I believe this legislation will spur other ideas to generate economic vitality and put our residents back to work,” added Casagrande.

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Casagrande Pleased with Passage of Open Space Funding Measure

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, expressed her support today after the Assembly approved a constitutional amendment (SCR-84) that will ask voters for approval to dedicate four percent of the Corporate Business Tax (CBT) to open space, farmland and historic preservation in November:

Caroline Casagrande

“The preservation of open space is a critical issue in New Jersey. We need to continue protect our environment and the beauty of our communities. The most densely populated state in the nation owes it to future generations in New Jersey to keep parts of the state green. Protecting farmland, water resources and preserving open space are important to our residents and I am confident this ballot question will receive the public’s support in November.”

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Casagrande Bill Assisting Crime Victims is Signed into Law by Governor Christie

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande to exempt crime victims from paying for government reports relating to the incident was signed into law by Governor Christie today.

Caroline Casagrande

“It was just adding insult to injury when a crime victim was told they had to reach into their pockets to pay for a police report or a copy of a restraining order,” said Casagrande, R-Monmouth. “Fortunately, today we have ended that insensitive practice, and an injured party will no longer be responsible for paying for important paperwork that is relevant to their case.”

Under the new law, crime victims will no longer have to pay to obtain pertinent records, and record requests will no longer be classified as a public record. Casagrande’s bill, A-1676/S-1524, passed the Assembly, 77-0-1, and the Senate, 38-0.

“We should be giving victims of crime in New Jersey our support. We shouldn’t be handing them a bill that needs to be paid,” said Casagrande.

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Editorial calls on Legislature to support Casagrande’s sick-pay reform

Source: Asbury Park Press Editorial Board -

It sticks in the craw every time it happens anywhere in the state, and it has happened again.

Last week, Middletown Township Committee members approved a $249,338 check for retiring Police Chief Robert Oches to pay for unused sick and vacation time he had racked up over 40 years.

This is still one more example of a loophole that the Legislature refuses to close, In 2010, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have capped unused sick time at $15,000 — a ceiling that has been in effect for state workers since 1986. Sick time is for when people really are sick, the governor and most people in the private sector reasoned.

In 2011, Christie conditionally vetoed a bill approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature that would have limited the payout for unused sick time to $7,500, saying the number was arbitrary and the cap should be zero. It certainly was arbitrary, and the figure should be zero.

Christie has rightly pointed out that sick time is not an ATM to be used at retirement. He, along with most New Jerseyans, would like to see the payouts reduced to zero going forward.

If only the Legislature would agree. Legislators now have another chance to see the light. They should take it.

Caroline Casagrande

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande rightly pointed out in the wake of the Oches payout that it is well past time for the Legislature to make it a top priority to eliminate payouts for unused sick time for retiring public employees. The Legislature has steadfastly refused to embrace a “use it or lose it” law when it comes to sick and vacation time.

The all-Republican Middletown committee called on the Democratic majority in the Legislature to stop blocking bills to change the practice.

Casagrande is the primary sponsor of bill A-158 that prohibits payouts for unused sick time. That bill languishes in an Assembly committee awaiting action.

In 2012, Casagrande introduced an identical bill, A-2495, which also never received consideration. In four years, the Democrat-controlled Legislature has refused to consider legislation eliminating this perk.

That has to change. How long must it take for lawmakers to make good on their promise to the taxpayer and do something to bring down property taxes? Passing this bill and having the governor sign it would be a significant step forward in that direction.

What is the delay? It is an economic law as immutable as the law of gravity, that unless the Legislature acts now, the growing liability of future payouts will only increase for our children and grandchildren.

The Legislature needs to let this bill move forward. Now.

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Casagrande bashes Dems on stalled sick-leave bills

Star Ledger -

Republican lawmakers from Monmouth County are using the hefty payout package for the retiring Middletown police chief to renew their call for changes in the state’s sick-leave payout rules.

Days after the Middletown council approved a $249,333 lump sum payout for unused sick and vacation time for retiring police Chief Robert Oches, state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (both R-Monmouth) took swipes at their Democratic counterparts for taking no action on legislation banning “outdated benefits.”

Caroline Casagrande

“This enormous payout is outrageous and an example of why homeowners’ taxes are so high and why the system needs to be changed,” Casagrande said. “For four years, the Democrat-controlled Legislature has refused to consider legislation eliminating this perk. Taxpayers bear the burden of over $800 million in accrued payouts. Unless the Legislature acts now, that liability will only increase for our children and grandchildren.”

Casagrande, primary sponsor of a bill that would prohibit payouts for unused sick time, said it’s “disgraceful” that Middletown taxpayers have the added expense.

“The chief’s service to the community is appreciated, but a $249,000 payout puts too high of a financial burden on the town,” she added.

Like a similar bill she introduced in 2012, the measure she sponsored this year has not received any consideration from the Democrats who control both houses of the state Legislature, she said.

A spokesman for Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kyrillos, a prime sponsor of a similar measure in the Senate, called it “shameful” that Senate Democratic leaders scheduled a voting session for today without addressing sick-leave payout changes.

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Casagrande: Taxpayers Take a Hit on Police Chief Payout

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande said it is disgraceful that taxpayers in Middletown are on the hook for nearly $250,000 for their retiring police chief in unused sick and vacation time. Casagrande, R-Monmouth, said it is well past time for the Legislature to make the elimination of unused sick pay for retiring public employees a top priority.

Caroline Casagrande

“This enormous payout is outrageous and an example of why homeowners’ taxes are so high and why the system needs to be changed,” says Casagrande. “For four years, the Democrat-controlled Legislature has refused to consider legislation eliminating this perk. Taxpayers bear the burden of over $800 million in accrued payouts. Unless the Legislature acts now, that liability will only increase for our children and grandchildren.

“The chief’s service to the community is appreciated, but a $249,000 payout puts too high of a financial burden on the town,” commented Casagrande. “This outdated benefit makes New Jersey unaffordable and part of the reason for the outward migration from our state.”

Casagrande is the primary sponsor of A-158 that prohibits payouts for unused sick time. That bill languishes in an Assembly committee awaiting action. Casagrande introduced the identical bill in 2012 (A-2495) which also never received consideration.

“It is time for the Legislature to fulfill its promise to the taxpayer and do something to bring down property taxes. Moving this bill would be a significant step forward in that direction,” stated Casagrande.

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Rible,Wolfe, Casagrande: Don’t shortchange vocational education

Asbury Park Press Editorial -

Not everyone is cut out for college. You would never know it by the meager resources that are put into the state’s secondary schools for vocational training, particularly in urban districts.

Dave Wolfe

Dave Rible

Recognizing that major shortcoming, the Assembly on Thursday approved a package of bills aimed at helping county vocational schools expand their programs. Sponsors included Assemblymen David Rible, R-Monmouth, and David Wolfe, R-Ocean. The Senate is expected to take up the bills in the fall. Action on them can’t come soon enough.

The need for expansion of vocational programs is clear. Nearly 17,000 students were turned away at vocational schools in New Jersey in 2013 because of insufficient capacity, according to the state Council of Vocational-Technical Schools. That number is more than half the current enrollment of 32,000 in full-time and shared-time vocational programs. About 400,000 students are enrolled in the state’s public secondary schools (grades 9-12).

Given the relatively low percentage of high school graduates in urban and some suburban districts who go on to college — not to mention the high percentage of students in urban districts who never even graduate from high school — there is an obvious disconnect between the curricula and the need to prepare students for the work world in many school systems.

That reality is underscored by a recent New Jersey Business and Industry Association survey that found nearly 75 percent of manufacturing companies responding reported that the lack of skilled workers had made it difficult to maintain production levels to meet customer demands.

Community colleges have long recognized the need for career and job-skill training. There is far less awareness on the secondary-school level.

The six-bill package approved by the Assembly last week recognizes the void that needs to be filled. One bill in the six-bill package would require the state education commissioner to establish a four-year County Vocational School District Partnership Grant Program.

It would create an incentive program in which grants are awarded to county vocational school districts to partner with urban districts, other school districts, county colleges and other entities to create high-quality career and technical education programs in existing facilities.

Many of the programs not requiring extensive capital outlays could be run in students’ home high schools, freeing up spaces in the vocational-technical schools.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, who was among the supporters of the bill, argues that funding the grant program would be a much better use of state school aid than continuing to direct money to under-performing districts, even after students have left those schools.

Caroline Casagrande

We can continue to send money to districts with no accountability or we can invest in programs that produce results,” Casagrande said. “The ‘hold harmless funds’ allow districts to keep aid for students who are not in their classrooms; meanwhile vocational schools are turning students away because they don’t have the capacity to meet the demand.”

The grants would allow schools to establish a partnership with other entities to provide training outside the confines of the vocational school campuses when it has been demonstrated that the demand for a particular program exceeds the school’s capacity.

Other bills in the package would:

• Require schools to include evaluation of student career readiness on report cards to help prepare them for real-world jobs.

• Require colleges training new teachers to include a professional development course in employability skills, career awareness, and understanding career and technical education.

• Increase the availability of college-level instruction for high school students through dual enrollment agreements between colleges and high schools.

• Encourage schools and employers to collaborate on the development of career and technical educations programs in work place settings, and exempt those locations from standards for new school construction.

• Provide additional aid to vocational districts that have experienced a significant enrollment increase.

The word “vocational,” when used in combination with “training,” has a stigma attached to it in this country that is not shared by most of the affluent nations in the Western world.

“College prep” isn’t for everyone. It is time the state’s political and educational leaders come to grips with that — and shape their curricula and their budgets accordingly.

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Bucco-Casagrande on NJ budget and tax hikes

Asbury Park Press -

It’s all over but the vetoing.

Democratic lawmakers approved a $34.1 billion state budget supported in part by higher taxes on the wealthy and businesses Thursday, setting up all-but-certain vetoes by Gov. Chris Christie by some point between today and early next week.

Christie has pledged to reject the extra tax on income over $1 million, which would mark the fourth time he’s vetoed that in five years, and a 15 percent surcharge on corporations. His budget veto will be more nuanced, as his line-item veto power lets him erase some spending without rejecting the whole bill.

Anthony M. Bucco

“The most important relief that taxpayers can count on today is that the governor still has ink in his red pen and is ready to use it,” said Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, R-Morris.

It’s unclear when Christie will announce the vetoes. The 2015 budget year doesn’t begin until July 1, which is Tuesday, though even if he waited until after that date it wouldn’t trigger a shutdown of state offices.

Roughly $1.5 billion in pension contributions kept in the budget by Democrats despite Christie removing it from his spending blueprint after income tax collections plunged in April will be the highest-profile deletion, but other spending added by lawmakers is also likely to get zapped.

To generate the funds needed to help cover the pension payment that’s required under a 2010 law, Democrats approved two major tax increases:

• Imposing a 10.75 percent tax rate on income over $1 million. Such a tax would yield an estimated $723.5 million for the state’s 2015 budget and cost 16,000 taxpayers upwards of $1.8 billion before it expired in December 2016. It was approved 24-16 in the Senate and 48-31 in the Assembly.

• Imposing a 15 percent surcharge on the corporate business tax for one year. This would yield $390 million, though a small portion would be dedicated to environmental programs rather than the general fund. This tax drew a bit less support, passing 21-18 in the Senate and 42-37 in the Assembly.

 

The income tax increase generated some of the day’s most heated discussion.

Caroline Casagrande

“We are the most beautiful state in the nation. Only in New Jersey can you go to the mountains, can you go to the beach, can you go to the biggest city in the United States,” said Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth. “There is no excuse for the fact we are not keeping our citizens except for the plain-as-day facts that outward migration and tax burden in this country right now match.”

When Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, R-Monmouth, offered to lead a tour of homes in “Middletown, the greater Red Bank area, Rumson,” where he said well-off residents can easily change their tax residence by spending a few more weeks at vacation homes, Senate President Stephen Sweeney responded angrily.

Kyrillos said Democrats miss the larger argument.

“It’s not the millionaires that I’m worried about. It is all the other people who depend on the revenue of this state for their pension, for schools, for roads, for bridges,” Kyrillos said, who noted the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers foot about 40 percent of the state’s income tax bill.

Lawmakers also passed a bill – 25-12 in the Senate, 43-35 in the Assembly – that would generate $110 million in additional taxes through various tax changes, including a requirement that online retailers in other states begin collecting sales taxes on transactions involving New Jersey residents starting July 1.

That bill would appear likely to be signed by Christie, as he recommended the changes in his budget speech in February. Lawmakers didn’t pass other tax proposals Christie made, including plans to hike taxes on e-cigarettes and business-to-business sales in urban enterprise zones.

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DiMaio-Casagrande Laud Committee Approval of Vocational Training Program

Assembly Republican Press Release -

A proposal to establish a grant program that would assist county vocational schools expand programs was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee yesterday and supported by Committee members Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande and Assemblyman John DiMaio.

As a General Contractor, Assemblyman DiMaio (District 23 – Hunterdon, Somerset, Warren) understands the value of vocational-technical schools and the need for skilled labor in the state. This program would make training available to a significant number of students who are currently being left out of programs.

John DiMaio

“The number of available spaces at our county vocational schools is insufficient to accommodate all of the applicants,” DiMaio continued. “Potential students are being denied the opportunity to participate in programs that could be extremely beneficial to them and the business community.”

According to the NJ Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools, nearly 17,000 students were not accepted at vocational schools because of insufficient capacity in 2013.

“This would truly be an investment in both our students and the economy,” DiMaio explained. “We need a skilled workforce to be able to provide services and products necessary for economic growth.”

Assemblywoman Casagrande (District 11- Monmouth) explained that funding this program would be a much better use of aid than continuing to direct money to under-performing districts, even after students have left those schools.

Caroline Casagrande

“We can continue to send money to districts with no accountability or we can invest in programs that produce results,” Casagrande said. “The ‘hold harmless funds’ allow districts to keep aid for students who are not in their classrooms; meanwhile vocational schools are turning students away because they don’t have the capacity to meet the demand.”

The grants would allow schools to establish a partnership with other entities to provide training outside of the confines of the vocational school campuses when it has been demonstrated that the demand for a particular program exceeds the school’s capacity.

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association have recognized the role vocational training plays in improving the business climate in the state. According to association, nearly 75 percent of manufacturing companies surveyed reported that the lack of skilled workers has made it difficult to maintain production levels to meet customer demands.

“We must do a better job of preparing our students for the jobs of the future” adds Casagrande. “By expanding quality vocational programs we are opening up a well paying career path for many and providing our employers the skilled labor they need.”

Both Assembly members look forward to approval of this program by the full legislature and implementation of these programs.

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