Tag: Jay Webber

Christie and Taxes: Bridge traffic isn’t the Garden State governor’s biggest problem

Source: Wall Street Journal -

Long after people have forgotten or ceased to care which of Chris Christie’s fired aides caused a traffic jam, the New Jersey governor will still have a big political problem. After his two terms, citizens of the Garden State will likely suffer under essentially the same oppressive tax burden that existed on the day he took office. And Mr. Christie is now moving in the wrong direction.

New Jersey’s Star-Ledger reports: “Gov. Chris Christie’s $34.4 billion budget proposal includes several revenue-raising measures, like requiring the increasingly popular electronic cigarettes to be taxed at the same rate as traditional cigarettes, and making online retailers charge state sales tax.”

Mr. Christie’s staff won’t use the T-word to describe these proposals but has instead referred to revenue-raisers as “adjustments” to close “loopholes.” Along with tax hikes, a small part of the package is an increase in the penalty for those who try to pay their taxes with the electronic equivalent of a bad check.

Jay Webber

The governor’s opponents say that the new Christie levies are in a category that the governor has previously described as tax hikes when enacted by Democrats. And at least one prominent Republican in the state legislature agrees. “As a general matter, these look to me to be tax increases,” Assemblyman Jay Webber told the Star-Ledger.

Even more disappointing is that in Mr. Christie’s current budget the governor abandons his call for a cut in state income taxes.

State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff says that the budget’s, um, revenue raisers will bring in an additional $240 million in 2015. He also says that more than offsetting these increases are the business tax cuts Mr. Christie signed in 2011 which will amount to $616 million in the coming year.

Not that a reform budget would have much chance of being enacted. The central problem is that New Jersey legislative districts have been gerrymandered to ensure liberal governance. Even as Mr. Christie cruised to a landslide re-election last fall, Democratic majorities in both houses of the state legislature were never in danger. This means New Jersey residents will continue to bear one of the country’s heaviest tax burdens, which in turn will continue to restrain economic growth. And that in turn will make it difficult for Mr. Christie to tell a compelling story in 2016 about Garden State success.

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Webber-Casagrande-Simon spend a night for homeless youth and raise $25K for Covenant House

Source: PolitickerNJ -

Camped under the stars outside the Statehouse last night, New Jersey lawmakers raised over $25,000 for homeless youth in Covenant House’s first ever legislative sleep-out.

Jay Webber

“It was a worthwhile night; a notable and meaningful event,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26), co-chair with state Sen. Joe Vitale (D-19). “There was a lot of learning and sharing going on, and for those of us participating on the legislative side, we came away with an appreciation for these kids.”

Founded in New York City in 1972, Covenant House is the largest privately funded charity in the Americas providing services to homeless, abandoned, abused, trafficked, and exploited youth. The state’s largest service-provider to homeless and at risk adolescents under 22, Covenant House New Jersey provides healthcare, educational and vocational services, counseling, drug abuse treatment and prevention programs and transitional living programs.

Caroline Casagrande

“Covenant House is always there, when no one else is, to help homeless, at risk adolescents,” said Casagrande. “I was moved to get involved by the stories of those whose lives have been changed by this remarkable organization. It is my hope that my participation in this ‘Legislative Sleep Out’ will bring attention to the work of Covenant House and encourage others to get involved.”.

Early Friday evening, the bipartisan gathering of 16 legislators broke into groups inside the Statehouse to hear the testimonials of young people between the ages of 18-22.

The following lawmakers participated: Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-11), state Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-11), Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg (R-8), Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-15), Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15, Assemblywoman Celeste Riley (D-3), Assemblywoman Grace Spencer (D-29), Assemblywoman Donna Simon (R-16), state Senator Pete Barnes (D-18), state Sen. Nellie Pou (D-35), state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29), Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35), Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-38), and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37).

The group of legislators and youth took their sleeping bags, pillows and ponchos and trooped outside around 11 p.m. Friday night, to the grass in front of the Statehouse Annex facing West State Street.

After a conversation and song, some impromptu Evita and Carole King, most people nodded off around 1 to 2 a.m. in a night without rain.

“It was uncomfortable,” Webber said of sleeping on the ground. “But we were so much more comfortable than the homeless youth we were trying to help. We had access to restroom, we were with our colleagues, we had a patch of grass, and we were safe. A lot of these kids don’t have that. The experience doesn’t compare to what they go through, but it was a good reminder to us of their challenges out there. We were fortunate to raise awareness and keep them in our consciousness.”

 

 

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Webber Discusses Problems with Bill to Increase Minimum Wage for Tip-Earners

Source: NJ Spotlight -

An increase in the minimum wage for workers who rely on tips to $5.93 – which would make New Jersey’s minimum wage for tip-earners one of the nation’s highest – is being considered by the state Legislature

New Jersey law currently allows tip workers to be paid $2.13 an hour, but requires employers to pay additional compensation if the employee’s hourly wage and tips do not at least equal the general minimum wage. The federal tip wage is $2.13 and has not been increased since 1993.

The legislation, A-857, was approved by the Assembly Labor Committee on March 24 by a 5-3 vote. It would increase the wage in two increments, from the current $2.13 an hour to $3.37 on Dec. 31, 2014, and to $5.93 on Dec. 31, 2015. The bill has not been scheduled for a floor vote and its Senate companion, S-1595, has not been scheduled for a Senate Labor Committee hearing.

Some tip-workers, and their advocates, say the increase is needed to stabilize the wages of bartenders, waitresses and others who rely on tips. Advocates say that many in the industry are barely scraping by, with many living below the poverty line.

Restaurant owners and the New Jersey Restaurant Association dispute those claims and say that, where problems exist, they are failures of enforcement. They also say that an increase in the wage will ultimately hurt tip workers by forcing businesses to reduce hours or alter wage scales to compensate for higher costs.

Jay Webber

Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris), one of three Republicans on the committee to vote against the bill, said in a press release that the bill, by nearly tripling the tip wage, calls for a “much more dramatic increase than what New Jersey put before the voters last year,” when the state minimum wage was increased from $7.25 an hour to $8.25.

“This bill would increase costs to employers without a substantial increase to employees,” because employees already are supposed to be guaranteed the regular state minimum wage, Webber said.

The tip wage has become a hotly contested issue nationally, with national Democrats linking an increase to President Barack Obama’s call for the national minimum wage to be increased to $10.10 an hour. U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has introduced federal legislation that would tie a tip-wage increase to the federal minimum wage increase – both increases would be phased until the regular minimum was $10.10 and the tip-wage was $7.10.

Nationally, Democrats are hoping to pass a bill this year, but observers say it is unlikely to get through the House of Representatives.

Its prospects in New Jersey – where about 315,000 people work in the hospitality industry – are unclear, though both houses of the state Legislature remain in Democratic control. Gov. Chris Christie has not said if he would sign a tip-wage increase into law, but the governor did veto an increase in the regular minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 in 2012, saying it was too much and that an indexing provision tying the minimum wage to the rate of inflation would harm businesses. The Legislature responded by putting the minimum wage on the ballot in 2013, where it was supported by 61 percent of voters. The minimum wage increased to $8.25 an hour on Jan. 1 and will increase annually based on the cost of living.

Marilou Halvorsen, president of the NJRA, said most restaurant workers make more than the minimum wage and that it is a “very rare occurrence” when they fall below. Even when they do “work a shift and it is so slow that no one comes in,” she said, workers “are by law guaranteed to get $8.25 an hour. The employer is responsible to bring you up to that $8.25 an hour.”

Halvorsen said some of the NJRA’s smaller members view the increase existentially. They are afraid that the increased costs could force them to close, she said.

 

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Webber on bill to change wages for tipped workers

Source: PolitickerNJ -

The Assembly Labor Committee this morning passed along party lines a bill aimed at benefiting workers who depend on tips to make a living.

 

“This bill would increase costs to employers without a substantial increase to employees,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26), who led Republicans opposed to the bill.

 

Sponsored by Labor Committee Vice Chair Shavonda Sumter (D-35), A857 requires employers “to compensate their employees at an hourly rate of at least 40 percent of the minimum wage ($2.90 per hour) after June 30, 2012, and an hourly rate of at least 69% of the minimum wage ($5.00 per hour) after June 30, 2013 and beyond,” according to the legislature’s summary of the bill.

Three Republicans bucked it in the minority.

Jay Webber

“This bill would increase costs to employers without a substantial increase to employees,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26), who led Republicans opposed to the bill.

As part of his resistance, Webber pointed out that New Jersey voters raised the state’s minimum wage last year by a dollar, to $8.25.

“This is a much more dramatic increase than what New Jersey put before the voters last year,” Webber said.

Voting no on the bill: Webber, Assemblywoman Alison McHose (R-24) and Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-12).

Voting yes and moving the bill out of committee: Sumter, Assemblywoman Anette Quijano (D-20), Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell (D-31), Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-19), and Committee Chairman Joe Egan (D-17) (pictured).

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Americcan for Prosperity Commend Webber on school funding inequity

Source: PolitickerNJ -

Americans for Prosperity is commending Assemblyman Jay  Webber (R-26) for standing  up for taxpayers and challenging Paterson School Commissioner Cory Teague over  school funding during Tuesday’s Assembly Budget Committee hearing.

“Assemblyman Webber deserves the thanks of beleaguered  taxpayers today for challenging Paterson School Board Commissioner Teague on the  issue of school funding,” stated AFP state director Daryn Iwicki. “This was a  rare display of courage and truth-telling in Trenton.”

“The school funding issue is the elephant in the room when  it comes to property taxes in New Jersey and it’s not one many  legislators—especially those beholden to the NJEA—want to talk about. As I  pointed out in my own testimony today before the committee, we must address this  unjust and unfair system that is the main reason so many New Jerseyans are  fleeing the state.”

“Considering just how unfair and unjust this system is to  most students in New Jersey, it’s insulting to say the least to listen not only  Commissioner Teague, but other representatives from the Paterson school district  and the Education Law Center, complain that Paterson and other districts are  being underfunded. It’s also hard to believe that Commissioner Teague has no  idea that this disparity exists.”

 

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Morris towns getting funds to clean flood areas

Source: Daily Record -

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has awarded stream-cleaning grants to designed to help relieve chronic flooding along the Passaic River Basin.

The grants include $300,000 to Montville and Parsippany, along with Boonton and East Hanover, to clean the lower Rockaway River. Parsippany — in conjunction with East Hanover, Hanover, and Florham Park — also will receive a grant of $168,153 to clean the Whippany River.

Lincoln Park and Pequannock will receive a grant of $150,000 to clean the chronically flood-prone East Ditch and, in conjunction with Wayne, will receive $69,300 to clean the Pompton River.

Jay Webber

Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Parsippany) was a co-primary sponsor of a bill passed last year by the state legislature that re-prioritized an existing $3 million pot of state funds from a 2003 bond act made available due to cost savings, project deferrals and cancellations from the previously funded Lower Saddle River Project.

The grants will be used to dredge shallow parts of rivers and streams and to de-snag clogged areas of waterways — which are problems contributing to flooding in the Passaic River Basin.

A press release from Webber’s office noted that due to the re-appropriation, the bill included no new state spending and almost one-third of the $3 million appropriation will be sent to aid towns in the 26th Legislative District for flood control.

“The legislation and grants directly heed the call for dredging and de-snagging waterways from residents of Fairfield, Lincoln Park, Montville, Parsippany and other municipalities that have suffered repetitive flooding in the Passaic River Basin,” said Webber. “The dredging of shallow sections can help waterways handle the volume and force of water during torrential rains, and the clean up and removal of built-up debris can reduce overflow and bottlenecks in clogged waterways. We are cost-effectively putting existing resources into preventive measures to mitigate flooding — prioritizing a way to prevent and reduce flooding in the first place, not just putting funds into clean up after storms have ravaged communities.”

“There are a whole range of macro approaches to mitigating flooding in the long-term,” Webber said. “Right now, with these grants, we are dealing with the flooding issues these towns have been dealing with new for several years, and they need some relief.”

Just over the Morris County border, Fairfield also will receive a grant of $184,800 to clean the Deepavall Brook, Greenbrook and Big Peace Meadows.

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Webber: School aid disparity a surprise to Paterson School Board commissioner

Source: PolitickerNJ -

Jay Webber

During Tuesday’s Assembly Budget Committee public hearing on the budget, testimony highlighted the imbalance in school funding.

After hearing Paterson School Board commissioner Cory Teague testify about the Pateron School System lacking full state funds, Assembly Republican Jay Webber (R-26) asked Teague how much money Paterson receives per pupil from the State of New Jersey.

$18,000, was the answer.

“I live in Morris Plains, about 20 minutes from Paterson,” said Webber. “Our students receive less than $400 each from the state,”

Teague registered bewilderment.

“That’s a surprise to you,” the assemblyman said, who pointed out that Paterson students receive roughly 36 times what they get from the state in Morris Plains. “Now I know Paterson has different challenges, but it’s tough to swallow. These are working families trying to make a go of it too. I grew up in Clifton. I used to drive through Paterson four or five times a week to get to my grandmother’s house.”

Then Webber invoked what he described as a “disturbing story” about Paterson Board of Education members preparing to go on a $25,000 trip to New Orleans.

“We see disparity,” he said. “These stories don’t help. I would encourage the Board of Ed to be more prudent.”

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Webber on extending 7 percent sales tax to online retailers

Source: Burlington County Times -

New Jersey lawmakers heard both praise and criticism from residents and interest groups Tuesday during a Statehouse hearing on Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed budget.

Business groups mostly praised the $34.4 billion spending plan, which continues to phase in business-tax cuts Christie and the Legislature began in 2011. The proposed budget also extends the state’s 7 percent sales tax to out-of-state online retailers, requires e-cigarettes to be taxed the same way regular tobacco products are, and makes businesses in urban enterprise zones pay a 3.5 percent sales tax on business-to-business transactions.

Jay Webber

 

“I’m looking for a way to make it revenue-neutral,” Assembly Republican Jay Webber said. “If there was a way to get (the tax revenue) back in (consumers’) pockets, I think there would be a lot more support.”

 

The latter measures are among several tax policy changes that the administration expects will bring in an additional $205 million in revenue.

Christie has said the changes are intended to close loopholes and level the playing field for businesses and taxpayers, but some Democrats have said the changes are, in effect, new taxes or tax increases.

John Holub, president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, testified strongly in favor of the online sales tax proposal at Tuesday’s hearing, telling lawmakers the proposal was “not a new tax” but was closing a tax loophole that online retailers have long exploited.

“A sale is a sale, regardless of where it occurs,” Holub said. “All we’re asking for is a level field where we can compete.”

Some lawmakers are concerned that extending the tax will make New Jersey consumers pay more for online purchases, among them Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-26th of Morris Plains, who said the state should consider making a corresponding sales tax reduction.

“I’m looking for a way to make it revenue-neutral,” Webber said. “If there was a way to get (the tax revenue) back in (consumers’) pockets, I think there would be a lot more support.”

The Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey also expressed concerns that extending the 3.5 percent sales tax on business transactions in urban enterprise zones would hurt some small businesses. Currently, certified businesses in the zones pay no sales tax on business-to-business transactions.

Pemberton Township and Mount Holly have urban enterprise zones.

Some state residents and tobacco retailers also oppose taxing e-cigarettes as tobacco products, arguing that the electronic devices — which vaporize liquid containing nicotine — are often used to help smokers kick the habit.

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Webber Transparency Bills Get Approval of Budget Panel, But Growing State Debt Yet to be Solved

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Two bills sponsored by Assemblyman Jay Webber that will increase accountability and financial responsibility in government advanced from the Assembly Budget Committee today.

Jay Webber

“The passage of these bills is a step in the right direction,” said Webber, R-Morris, Essex, and Passaic. “These reforms will shine a light on wasteful spending and the crushing burden of State debt. The next and more important step, however, is actually to stop wasteful spending and reckless borrowing by avoiding them in the first place, and I urge the Legislature to join me going forward in combating those abuses of the taxpayer.”

Before joining the Assembly, Webber successfully fought Governor Jim McGreevey’s attempt to “balance” the State Budget with billions in borrowing, and Webber has voted No and opposed new rounds of State borrowing since entering the Legislature in 2008.

The panel cleared Webber’s A-961, which enhances current State Debt reporting to include detailed long-term debt affordability analysis and revenue projections.

Webber also sponsors the “Transparency in Government Act,” A-103, which provides for the establishment of a State public finance website. With the development of an accessible, user-friendly source of information to track State revenues, expenditures, and past and present levels of bonded indebtedness, taxpayers can see first-hand how their money is spent. Although the Christie Administration already has implemented a similar web portal through Executive Order called yourmoneynj.gov, this Legislative initiative pre-dates the Christie Administration and seeks to build on and codify the Governor’s work in this area.

“The Transparency in Government Act builds on the Governor’s good work on transparency and requires a more comprehensive data set than the existing website. It also gives the requirement of placing government fiscal information online the force of an enacted law that cannot be changed by a future Executive Order, which is a long-term taxpayer protection that will last far beyond the Christie Administration,” concluded Webber.

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Webber discusses eminent domain on NJTV (video)

Source: NJTV -

You’ll have to excuse Gov. Christie for being caught a bit off guard this week when Danielle, a caller to his radio talk show, asked about a new law that gives the recently-formed Rowan-Rutgers University board the power of eminent domain.

“I’m not familiar with giving the Rowan-Rutgers board the power of eminent domain,” the governor said. “That’s not something I’m aware of as I sit here. If it’s just a proposed bill, it’s just a proposed bill. It’s certainly not something that Sen. Sweeney has brought up with me in terms of eminent domain, so I don’t know what Danielle is talking about, but if it were to come across my desk, it’s something I’d have to take a look at that.”

The governor’s had his share of issues to deal with of late, but he did in fact sign Senate bill 3127 in January, in the waning days of the legislative session. So are these outside issues causing a distraction for the governor?

“I know that at the end of the legislative session there are hundreds of bills that the governor has to make a decision on,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber. “I’ve actually been surprised at how fluent the governor is on such a range of policy issues that for one night in February that he didn’t recall a bill that he had signed in January among dozens if not hundreds of actions he’s taken on bills doesn’t shock me.”

The bill was intended to be the final piece of the governor’s higher education reform agenda, with the Rutgers merger as the centerpiece. It establishes the joint Rowan-Rutgers board and its guidelines, but you’d have to go through page after page before you get to the important part.

Jay Webber

“Given the fact that we were talking about eminent domain and an unelected body taking private property from private citizens,” added Webber, “I thought we had better slow down and take a closer look at what authority we’re granting and why.”

Webber voted against the bill, a fairly rare occurrence among Republican lawmakers. “I didn’t know who or why the bill was being pushed, all I know is that it was being pushed fast and late,” he said.

The bill’s sponsor is Senate President Steve Sweeney, of South Jersey, whose close political ally is George Norcross, the South Jersey political power broker and friend of Christie, who’s also chairman of Cooper University Hospital in Camden, which would potentially benefit from the new law when the new board tries to expand facilities. Sweeney defended the bill on this week’s “On the Record.”

“Sometimes people think they’re going to get rich off the government because there may be 10 pieces of property and my one piece, I’m going to hold up the sale because I’m going to — not extort, that’s the wrong word — but I’m going to try to hit the jackpot,” he said.

Webber says the end of the legislative session can be a mad rush to get dozens of bills passed — or in this case fixed. But he admits that a bill granting eminent domain powers to a university board of directors could probably have used more scrutiny.

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