Tag: Jon Bramnick

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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Bramnick discusses pension proposal

Bergen Record -

A day after Governor Christie announced what he is calling a “road map for reform” on public employee pensions and health care, legislators and union leaders aren’t sure what exactly the next step is, but they say any progress is most likely to hinge on negotiating changes to employee health benefits.

And if Christie can get the teachers union — the state’s largest and most politically powerful — to agree to health care concessions, that could help him pressure other unions representing state workers to follow suit when their contracts are up in June.

Jon Bramnick

“The key to this legislation is an understanding that there’s a change in the health care plan. Without that, I don’t think there’s going to be an agreement,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union. “If you can’t get past Square One, you’re done.”

Union and legislative leaders on Wednesday were still reading through and processing the dense, 50-page pension commission report, plus the governor’s 2016 budget. They were largely unable to reach a consensus on how, or if, the administration’s recommendations will proceed.

And looming over the governor’s proposal is a Superior Court judge’s order from Monday that Christie must work with the Legislature to find nearly $1.6 billion to restore the pension contribution the governor cut from the 2015 budget. Although the administration has said it will appeal the decision by Judge Mary C. Jacobson, many state and union leaders believe the focus should be on fulfilling the state’s prior pension commitment, which Christie has touted across the country as a fix to New Jersey’s long-neglected retirements benefit system.

Although the NJEA signed a memo endorsing the so-called road map, it has made clear that it is not fully onboard with the plan and that many details must be worked out.

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Bramnick discusses Christie’s Budget Address on NJTV [video]

Source: NJTV News [video] -

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick discussed Gov. Chris Christie’s Budget Address with NJTV News Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron.

Bramnick said New Jersey is an expensive place to live and that the state can’t afford the benefits that it’s paying for now.

Jon Bramnick

“Sure this is a dose of reality,” said Bramnick. “It’s just too expensive to live in New Jersey and part of that is we can’t afford benefits that we’re paying now. The system will go broke. So apparently in cooperation with the teachers and NJEA, there’s an understanding that they’ll transfer the pension, the entire program to the union. Let the union run it and the state will send them an annual payment. Except, you have to keep in mind unless you reduce the cost of health care benefits in the state to retired employees, it was from a different type of plan, you’re not going to be able to afford the pension plan.”

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Bramnick on Gov’s Budget Address: ‘He was on top of his game’

Source: PolitickerNJ -

Two of Trenton’s top Republican leaders applauded Gov. Chris Christie’s commitment to fixing an ailing pension and benefit system moments after the executive delivered his latest budget address during a joint legislative session on the Assembly floor here today.

Jon Bramnick

“He was on top of his game I thought,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21). “He’s one of these governor that will tell the public the truth and some people won’t like it, but the bottom line is you’re not going to fix it through minimal cuts or tax increases. You’ve got to fix the system.”

Christie’s half-hour address included a new $33.8 billion budget for fiscal year 2016, as well as plans to further overhaul the state’s pension and benefit system, currently suffering from billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities. Using the final findings a much-anticipated report from the commission Christie convened late last year to study and propose solutions for funding the state’s pension obligations, he laid laid out a plan to put $1.3 billion towards next year’s payment, partly by overhauling the current pension system.

Among the plan’s specifics are to freeze existing pension plans, aligning future public employee retirement benefits with private-sector levels, and transfer the assets, liabilities and risks of the existing pension and new retirement plans to employee entities willing and able to assume this obligation.

Christie called the plan a “Roadmap for Reform”, and brandished the support of the New Jersey Education Association, who says they’ve been in discussion with the governor on the plan but have stressed they’ve reached no final deal.

“The focus on the longterm plan to find a real, sustainable solution to the pension issue was very important,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (D-21). “His focus on both education and the sustainability of our efforts going forward on pensions.”

Kean said Christie’s roadmap “lays out the right markers.”

“It’s got the right parties working together to find common ground, and it shows that we as the legislature have a lot of work to do together to accomplish this,” he said.

One of the biggest complaints from Democrats following Christie’s address was its too-narrow focus on pensions, neglecting to address other financially-squeezed areas of the state, such as a depleted Transportation Trust Fund. Asked about the oversight, Kean — who along with Bramnick, Christie, and Democratic leaders in both houses have been working on a deal to replenish that fund — shrugged.

“That’s an ongoing issue, but it wasn’t going to be resolved in advance of the budget address,” he said.

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Jon Bramnick wants everyone back on the Chamber Train until ‘we solve New Jersey’s problems’

Source: PolitickerNJ -

Jon Bramnick

Politicos on this year’s “Walk to Washington” boarded the Amtrak train full ready for three-plus hours of politicking, politicizing, and public schmoozing. That’s what this annual event is about, after all: it gives insiders and operatives from across the ideological spectrum a once-a-year opportunity to network with like-minded political animals and some of the state’s top lawmakers, all in the privacy of a steel tube hurtling down the tracks at 80 mph.

What they might not have expected? A rollicking comedy hour, courtesy of Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21).

Packed between riders trying to squeeze their way up and down the train, Bramnick talked up the benefits of cramming so many members of New Jersey’s political circus in one place like only the Republican — once dubbed the “Funniest Lawyer in New Jersey” — could.

“In Trenton, everyone leaves, they don’t stay, they don’t talk. Put them all on the train. Keep the train going. It’s called Lockdown Trenton,” Bramnick said, a reference to the TV show by the same name.

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Schepisi, Bramnick Ready to Rumble With Insurers Over Healthcare Billing

Source: Star-Ledger -

Holly Schepisi

State Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen) says it wasn’t until her husband Paul’s recent skiing accident this winter — one that left him hospitalized with a broken collarbone and other internal injuries — that she realized just how opaque health insurance companies billing could be. It’s motivated her to seek comprehensive changes from her perch in the state Legislature.

Her husband’s recent injuries forced her to spend hours probing over which doctor was “in-network” at her health plan, and which was not. She says the process of dealing with insurance companies has motivated her to demand greater accountability and clarity over billing for procedures and for better, easier disclosure about which providers are part of a plan’s network, and which aren’t. Using an out-of-network doctor or lab can easily cost a policyholder thousands of dollars at a time when they are most overwhelmed and vulnerable, she said.

Jon Bramnick

“I am going to make this my mission in life!” said Schepisi, only half-jokingly to fellow Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R -Union) as they mingled with lobbyists and fellow lawmakers at a breakfast at the Hilton in downtown Newark before the state Chamber of Commerce’s 78th annual Walk to Washington train trip.

Bramnick added he, too, was spoiling for a fight with insurance companies over the issue, and pledged his support on the spot.

“Fight the insurance companies?” he laughed, “Let’s do it!”

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Bramnick on resistance to gas tax for transportation

Source: Star-Ledger -

New Jersey’s Democratic legislative leaders had hoped to strike a deal with Republican Gov. Chris Christie on replenishing the state’s Transportation Trust Fund before the governor delivers his next budget proposal on Tuesday.

That’s not likely to happen.

Democratic lawmakers said there’s little chance they’ll come to an agreement with the governor before then, even as negotiations continue between Christie, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, (D-Gloucester) and state Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson).

The Transportation Trust Fund — which pays for road, bridge and mass transit projects, is virtually broke — and finding a way to fund it has been the Legislature’s top priority so far this year. Democrats insist that an increase in the gas tax is necessary, something that Christie has said is “on the table” and his transportation commissioner has indicated is all but inevitable.

Negotiations also involve a possible repeal of the estate tax and a cut in taxes on retirement income.

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) said Sweeney’s argument was a “red herring” and that Republican lawmakers simply want more “a much broader, global discussion as to whether there should be other cuts and whether you’re willing to reduce or eliminate other taxes.”

While there will not likely be an agreement on replenishing the transportation fund before Chrsitie lays out his budget priorities, lawmakers said the real deadline for finding a solution is the end of June, when they must pass the budget for the next fiscal year.

But with all 80 seats in the Assembly up for election in November and lawmakers never eager to vote yes on tax increases, the longer it takes to come to a deal “makes it more difficult … and a little more complicated.”

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Bramnick Offers Congratulations to Departing Dept. of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, Morris and Somerset, offered his thanks and appreciation to departing Commissioner Jennifer Velez after Governor Christie announced she will be leaving her position at the Dept. of Human Services.

Jon Bramnick

“Commissioner Velez served with integrity and honor. Her main focus was doing what is best for the residents of New Jersey. Commissioner Velez’ distinguished length of service is a great example of public service. I wish her well in her future endeavors and offer my thanks for her commitment to the people of New Jersey.”

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Bramnick speaks on proposed conflict of interest rules bill

Bergen Record -

The governor’s office should follow the same ethical rules and the Legislature and close a loophole that has allowed Governor Christie to take a lavish overseas trip and sit in luxury box seats at football games, according to the lawmaker who is leading the George Washington Bridge lane-closure investigation.

If the bill passes, New Jersey would join several other states that have recently revised their ethics laws for chief executives.

Under a bill expected to be introduced Thursday, gifts from a lobbyist or “governmental affairs agent” to the governor would be limited to $250 — the same for legislators. The bill would also require the Ethics Commission prepare a code of ethics for the governor and allow it impose a fine of up to $10,000 for violations.

Also included is a provision rescinding a 2003 executive order allowing the governor to accept gifts from friends — a loosely defined word that has been questioned since Governor Christie was spotted in the luxury box of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

That idea has the backing of Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who said through a spokesman that “the bill will be given the full consideration of the Assembly.”

Jon Bramnick

While Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick agreed with the idea of ethical reforms in the executive office, he questioned Wisniewski’s motives and characterized the proposal as narrow-minded politics. He ticked down a list of legislative proposals to strengthen ethics in the Legislature — more specific financial disclosures and banning the political donation practice of “wheeling,” for example — that have gone nowhere.

“I don’t think this is a buffet line where you pick and choose what ethics reforms are important. I’m happy to call for a special session on ethics,” said Bramnick, R-Union.

Several other states have recently tightened ethics rules for the executive office but still give leeway and exemplify the patchwork of laws across the U.S.

In Connecticut, where in 2004 John Rowland resigned as governor and admitted taking vacations and work on his home paid for by state contractors, the ethics rules for public and state employees and the governor were revised last year. Though there are strict limits on gifts from lobbyists, there are no limits on gifts from “non-restricted” donors, like a neighbor of 20 years or a friend from kindergarten.

Following former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s conviction last year of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts, vacations and loans, his successor, Terry McAuliffe, signed an executive order strengthening gifts and ethics laws, including a $100 cap on gifts to the governor and full ban on gifts from lobbyists.

 

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Bramnick blames Wisniewski for stalling ethics reforms

Source: News 12 NJ -

Recent reports about Governor Christie accepting expensive gifts from high-profile friends is about to lead to a new round of legislation.

Think of it as the statehouse equivalent of what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Jon Bramnick

 

“Why don’t we as legislators have the same disclosure requirements as the governor? Democratic Chairman John Wisniewski has rejected that.” — Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick

 

[An Assembly Democrat says] he’s preparing a bill that would stiffen rules over the types and sources of gifts Governors can accept while in office. During the last two months the Governor has taken some heat for accepting luxuries like playoff tickets to the Dallas Cowboys from Jerry Jones and a swanky trip to Jordan from ruler King Abdulla II – perks legal under an executive order signed during the Mcgreevey administration allowing gifts from personal friends.

“Why don’t we as legislators have the same disclosure requirements as the governor? Democratic Chairman John Wisniewski has rejected that,” Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick says.

Bramnick says four years ago the Governor suggested ethics reforms to campaign finance and conflict of interest laws. Nothing happened. He thinks this is more about political tricks than monetary treats.

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