Tag: Jon Bramnick

Bramnick weighs in on PARCC testing

Star Ledger -

Students who don’t want to take the PARCC exams should be able to attend regular classes or work on other school activities during testing, according to New Jersey’s Assembly.

A bill (A4165) requiring schools to accommodate students refusing the state’s standardized tests passed the Assembly 72-0 this afternoon. Before becoming law, the proposal requires approval from the state Senate — which has yet to act on any PARCC legislation passed by the Assembly — and Gov. Chris Christie.

The bill directs schools to provide students refusing the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams with an ungraded alternative activity or to allow those students to engage in supervised reading or other self directed work.

New Jersey is among a majority of states with no policy on whether students can refuse state tests or how schools should treat those who do. Instead, each district was left to make its own decision when the new tests for grades 3-11 debuted across the state in late February and early March

The state Department of Education has said that schools could face sanctions, including financial penalties, if 95 percent of students don’t take the tests, as required by federal law. But the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has doubted that financial penalties will be enforced.

Republican support of the bill shouldn’t be seen as encouragement to opt out but merely support of parents and students having that option, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) said.

Jon Bramnick

“A parent should allow the children to take the tests and then let’s analyze the results of those tests to determine whether they are skewed, whether they have benefit, whether they are achieving the goals that have been set forth,” Bramnick said.

The bill would also require districts to notify parents of scheduled PARCC exams by Sept. 30 of each year and provide information on how the results will be used.

Parents would have until 14 days before the test to provide written notification that a student will not participate.

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Bramnick: Confronting a changing media landscape

Source: Bergen Record [op-ed by Carl Golden] -

Media bashing has been a part of American life — particularly its political life — since the dawn of the Republic. Everyone from colonial era pamphleteers with their rudimentary hand-cranked printing presses to the reporters and commentators who inhabit today’s sophisticated high-tech communications world has felt the sting of outraged public figures who feel they’ve been done dirty by something printed or said about them.

The relationship between the media and those in public life — be they politicians, athletes, entertainers or business leaders — has historically been an uneasy one, oft-times sinking into open hostility. Reporters justify their intrusive behavior by arguing that those who seek public attention should be prepared to surrender some degree of personal privacy, while the subjects of their inquiries contend that too often the boundaries of propriety, good taste and common courtesy are obliterated.

The overwhelming (some say suffocating) presence of instant communications and the outlets it’s spawned — 24-hour cable news, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, for instance — has outrun the ability of people to intelligently process the flood of information or, most importantly, to separate fact from fantasy.

Jon Bramnick

It is intriguing, then, that Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick has assembled a panel of former and current officeholders to discuss today’s media landscape and to tease out suggestions on how to deal with it effectively.

Among the panelists chosen for the April 21 panel are former Gov. James McGreevy and former state Senate President and Gov. Donald DiFrancesco, both of whom have experienced the media turmoil and returned to private life.

The first thing the panelists should understand and accept is that in today’s environment, everyone with a cellphone is a reporter. Not in the traditional sense of being a press-card-carrying representative of a news organization, but as a bystander recording unfolding events in the hopes the images can be offered or sold to a media outlet or, failing that, posted on the Internet to be viewed by an unlimited worldwide audience.

Remember the great Seaside Heights Boardwalk ice cream war? The one starring Governor Christie, a double scoop of vanilla and a heckler who expressed his displeasure over the governor’s public education policies? YouTube viewers went into a frenzy over it.

Or, the secret recording of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney grumbling that his campaign misfortune was due in considerable measure to the 47 percent of Americans who paid no income tax and received generous government benefits — “takers,” he called them — who would never vote for him.

The Bramnick panel should also understand that using email or Twitter — convenient as they may be — to toss off seemingly clever or innocuous comments in an email or a tweet is tantamount to purchasing a full page newspaper advertisement to express the same sentiment.

In the electronic world, private communications are a relic of the past. And, once it’s out, it’s there for eternity, retrievable by anyone at the touch of a button. Newspaper stories fade and wind up in the recycling barrel. The Internet is forever, and Google is no longer the last name of a comic strip character named Barney.

Even taking great care to separate public from private communications can be problematic (see, Hillary Clinton), for when a media firestorm erupts, demands for full and immediate disclosure become the dominant storyline. Fighting it off can lead to questions and accusations of hiding information that can be embarrassing or threatening to one’s political future (see, Hillary Clinton).

It is hoped that the panelists can offer their insights on dealing with the dramatically altered media environment, one that’s changed radically in even the few years that have elapsed since they left office.

Telephoning editors, grumbling to reporters or writing letters to the editor about what was considered unfair coverage seem to be quaint throwbacks to a time when personal and professional relationships carried greater weight.

For 11 years — eight as press secretary to Gov. Tom Kean and three in a similar role to Gov. Christie Whitman — I dealt with these issues, putting out fires while igniting others on a daily basis.

To be sure, the influence of the print media has been diminished since then.

Their influence may have waned, but their relevancy has not. If anything, the competitive environment has sharpened a good deal of the print coverage with increased emphasis on analysis of complex public policy issues, the kind of objective attention not readily available on blogs or through talking cable heads.

Without question, there are reporters who are excellent, ones that are mediocre and still others who should look for another line of work. It’s no different, really, from excellent or mediocre lawyers, doctors, politicians or auto mechanics, along with those who should also explore other occupational opportunities.

Public officials confront a new media paradigm, though, one that can bewilder and befuddle them. Many are simply not particularly savvy in the ways of today’s mass communication environment, and costly missteps committed out of a lack of knowledge lurk constantly.

Bramnick’s panelists have an opportunity to offer advice and counsel to those in office as well as to those contemplating entering public life.

If it becomes a media bashfest with smarmy comments about how Brian Williams was suspended or Dan Rather was fired, it will be a pointless exercise.

Carl Golden, a former press aide to Govs. Tom Kean and Christie Whitman, is a senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University.

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Asm. Jon Bramnick joins host Steve Adubato on NJ Capitol Report

Source: New Jersey Capitol Report -

Jon Bramnick

This special edition of New Jersey Capitol Report, taped on-location at New Jersey’s Statehouse, features an in-depth interview with Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, who shares his thoughts on the millionaires tax, estate tax, and providing incentives for New Jersey residents.

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Bramnick-Carroll: Don’t rush judgment on pollution deal

Star Ledger -

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead told lawmakers Thursday that the legacy of Exxon Mobil’s pollution in his town is palpable — and pungent.

State lawmakers heard testimony from Armstead and environmental advocates about the extent of the pollution at the two sites, which dates back to the early 20th century and was the subject of a 10 year lawsuit between Exxon and the state.

Republicans on the committee pushed back against fierce criticism levied at Gov. Chris Christie’s administration over the deal, the details of which have not yet been made public.

Jon Bramnick

“Let’s let the litigation process continue, let’s let a judge make a determination, let’s have public comment,” Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Union) told reporters before the hearing. “But let’s stop assigning motives.”

The settlement agreement will be published in the New Jersey Register early next month and has to be approved by Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan. The state senate passed a resolution earlier this week along party lines urging the judge to reject the deal, a move Assemblyman Michael Carroll (R-Morris) called unprecedented.

Michael Patrick Carroll

“I’ve been down here 20 years. I never once have seen us take a position in a litigated case,” Carroll said. “Never once.”

Bramnick pointed to the New York Times story published Thursday that, citing anonymous sources, reported the Corzine administration had sought a settlement for $550 million, still far less than the billions state experts said restoration would cost.

“There’s a history here that’s very similar by Democrats and Republicans,” Bramnick said, criticizing Democrats in the legislature for condemning the settlement without knowing the details of negotiations.

“Exxon is probably one of the toughest parties to settle with in the country,” Bramnick said. You’re talking about Exxon — they have more money than the state of New Jersey.”

A spokesman for Exxon declined comment.

The committee also advanced legislation that would extend the public comment period for environmental settlements from 30 days to at least 60 days, and McKeon said he hoped the Christie administration would extend the comment period for the Exxon agreement.

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Bramnick: ‘Very hard to tie the hands of governors’

Source: NewsWorks -

In response to the Christie administration’s proposed settlement with Exxon, some New Jersey lawmakers want to ensure that more money won in environmental damage awards  -in the future – goes towards clean-up.

Jon Bramnick

 

“I think it’s very hard to tie the hands of governors with respect to use of funds depending on which emergencies arise or don’t arise.” – Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bram nick

 

Under current New Jersey law first $50 million of any settlement money goes for cleanup and restoration, anything above that can be used for the general fund.

Democrats who sponsored the legislation say that’s not enough.

Their bill would require one-half of all settlement proceeds in excess of 50-million dollars to be spent to on clean up.

But Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick says governors should have flexibility on how that’s spent.

“I think it’s very hard to tie the hands of governors with respect to use of funds depending on which emergencies arise or don’t arise.”

The Assembly Environment Committee advanced the measure on a party-line vote with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposed.

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Bramnick critical of Democrat bill to control Exxon settlement funds

Source: NJ 101.5 -

If the lawsuit settlement is a approved by a judge, New Jersey only has to use $50 million of the $225 million Exxon Mobil would have to pay the state to clean up land contamination.

The state will also have to deal with the inability to use of more than 1,500 acres of wetlands, marshes, meadows and waters in the northern part of the Garden State. Current law allows Gov. Chris Christie to use the rest of the money to plug budget holes. Several Democrats are seeking to change the law.

A bill (A-4281) would amend the Fiscal Year 2015 budget to require half of all amounts of environmental lawsuit recoveries received by the state — above $50 million — be used for the costs of remediation, restoration and clean up.

Before the Assembly Judiciary Committee approved the measure Thursday, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (D-Westfield) criticized the bill and derided what he called pure partisanship.

Jon Bramnick

“It’s very hard to tie the hands of governors with respect to use of funds depending on what emergencies arise. This is a political bill aimed at Gov. Christie. If there was a democratic governor this bill wouldn’t be on the desk,” Bramnick said.

It would be very hard to imagine a scenario under which Christie would actually sign the legislation into law should it pass both houses of the legislature, but McKeon insisted he was not concerned about that.

 

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Assembly Republicans speak about Exxon issue in committee hearing

Bergen Record -

Seeking details on the controversial $225 million settlement with Exxon Mobil with the aim of potentially blocking it, the Assembly Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the deal Thursday morning – but not from anyone actually involved in the decade-old case.

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin were invited to the hearing but declined.Exxon was also invited and declined.

Attention turned to politics before the hearing even began.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, called for an end to the personal accusations that have been made against the administration since the deal was reported late last month.

The state had originally estimated $8.9 billion in damages and cleanup for the oil giant to pay for decades of widespread contamination across Linden and Bayonne from its Bayway refinery. The settlement must be approved by a judge after a 30-day public comment period.

Jon Bramnick

“No one has all the facts, and therefore they should wait until they assign bad motives to good people,” Bramnick said.

Bramnick, along with fellow Republican Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll of Morris County, said that since the facts of the case have not been disclosed, it would be irresponsible to conclude that the Exxon deal is a bad one.

Michael Patrick Carroll

Carroll said that instead of settling for the $225 million, there was a chance that a judge could have ruled the oil company pay a far lower amount.

“It’s not quite like a trip to Atlantic City,” he said. “But it’s close.”

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Bramnick and Elected Officials Will Examine the “New Media” on April 21

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Bipartisan panel discussion led by Leader Bramnick at Kean University on April 21

The media has changed substantially in the past 20 years. Political leaders are the focus of instant reporting, social media and internet bloggers.

Jon Bramnick

A bipartisan panel will discuss the impact on elected officials in the new media world. Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, will lead the panel which will include former Gov. Jim McGreevey.

The 1 p.m. event will be held at Kean University, in the STEM Auditorium, Room 221. To reserve a seat today, please call Glen Beebe in the Assembly Republican Office at 609-847-3400 or email GBeebe@njleg.org.

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Bramnick: A roadmap for pension reform

Jon Bramnick

Source: Bergen Record op-ed by Jon Bramnick -

Jon Bramnick is the Assembly Republican leader. He represents the 21st District, which includes Union, Morris and Somerset counties.

The state’s pension program exists to compensate public employees for the service they have rendered, but prior to the Christie administration, governors from both parties failed to make the payments needed to keep the system solvent. Today, we recognize that previous reforms have bought some time, but more must be done to protect employees who have worked hard and are entitled to benefits.

Government is at its best when we work together and put results before partisanship. Reform begins with dialog, and fortunately, both the teachers union and the Christie administration have been engaged in meaningful discussions toward a solution. Both parties know that changes are needed, and the broad outlines of a path forward have emerged that includes core elements sought by the union and the administration. What remains is to see these discussions through to a concrete solution.

Recent history shows that historic achievements are within reach if the commitment is there to work together. That is how we developed the cap on property taxes and corresponding reforms to lower local government costs. Nearly four years ago, we also made changes to the pension system that started the process to save it. We replaced big talk with big results. We can and must do it again.

These benefit-system reforms were critical, but more needs to be done.

To meet the challenge of expanding health care costs and to help ensure the long-term solvency of the pension system, a non-partisan study commission was created last year. The New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission was asked to think long-term and outside of the box to find bold and effective ways to subdue these ever-growing entitlement costs.

The group’s report offers a solution that requires “shared sacrifice and the willingness to let go of a failed status quo.” The plan would help stabilize the pension system for at least 35 years and beyond.

As a result of ongoing dialogue with union leaders, a groundbreaking “Roadmap for Reform” has been developed. The highlights of the proposed measures include freezing the existing outdated pension plan and replacing it with new, realistic retirement plans, reducing the cost of health coverage, transferring the pension plans from the state to the unions and adopting a unified approach to pension funding.

Now more than ever, New Jersey needs its leaders to work together, one party with the other and the administration with unions, all pulling together and prioritizing results over partisanship. It’s a tried and true roadmap to reform.

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Bramnick: Allowing Municipalities to set Minimum Wage is Bad Public Policy

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, Morris and Somerset, said legislation (A-3912) that allows towns to determine their own minimum wage is bad public policy.

“The new bill to allow each municipality to act as a separate state is very bad public policy. I highly doubt that even the most ardent Democrats would ever vote for this bill, but the message that New Jersey is even considering this anti-business policy can damage our economic future.

“This bill may appeal to the Democratic base, but business leaders who read about the proposal may speculate that the Legislature will continue to allow each municipality to set its own local rules for businesses.

“New Jersey is already known has a high tax, highly regulated anti-business state. Increasing local regulation is dangerous public policy.”

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