Tag: Jon Bramnick

Bramnick on requirement that has kiddie pool owners in deep water

Source: NJ 101.5 -

Anyone in New Jersey who is planning to buy an easily constructed or inflatable pool for their Fourth of July barbecue should know it is more than likely that at least one permit is required.

There are also security regulations that could apply. One state lawmaker is now urging box stores that sell these types of pools to inform customers about the permit requirements.

Jon Bramnick

Assembly GOP Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) said he did not want to see people get fined or have their pool taken down simply because they did not know about the regulations.

“I’m only asking stores to tell customers about the permits because we have enough laws in this state and I don’t want to impose further burdens on retailers, but I do want to get the message out,” Bramnick said.

The code applies to any structure that is intended for swimming or recreational bathing that contains water over 2 feet, including in-ground, above-ground swimming pools, hot tubs and spas. A separate permit is needed if there is an electrical component involved such as a filter and security around the pool is also required. That could include a non-climbable barrier surrounding the entire property or the pool itself. A self-closing and self-latching gate that opens away from the water is needed. There are also gate and latch height requirements.

“If a kiddie pool needs a permit that would be like giving a violation to a lemonade stand. If that occurs I will actually physically sit in a kiddie pool and they’re going to have to take me away as well.”

The situation came to Bramnick’s attention through calls from constituents who also told him about the possibility of fines.

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Bramnick talks about Chris Christie

Jon Bramnick

NJ Spotlight -

If Gov. Chris Christie is going to win the Republican nomination for president, he’s going to have to do it the hard way. Unpopular at home as the state economy has sputtered, Christie also faces fund-raising challenges and a leery national GOP.

Yet Christie, a second-term Republican, made the case in a long-anticipated 2016 presidential announcement yesterday that the last 5½ years he’s spent in the State House have prepared him well, and that he’s now ready to serve as the nation’s next leader.

Most of all, he said, he’s learned that leadership means telling people the truth and not just what they want to hear.

“In the end everybody, leadership matters,” Christie said to applause. “I mean what I say and I say what I mean, and that’s what America needs right now.”

“We are going to tell it like it is today so that we can create a greater opportunity for everyone tomorrow,” Christie said moments later. “The truth will set us free, everybody.”

To his supporters, the presidential campaign announcement represented the reemergence of one of the most skilled politicians the state has seen in recent generations — and a demonstration of how Christie might still pull it off.

“I think that what is important is that people around the country see what we’ve seen for the last six years,” said state Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union). “People want authenticity.”

There are economic issues, including a 6.5 percent unemployment rate that’s higher than the national average and higher than the jobless ratesin most other states, and revenue collections that still lag behind the pre-recession peak despite business-tax cuts and other pro-growth initiatives enacted since Christie took office in early 2010 that were supposed to grow the economy.

Christie’s approval rating in New Jersey was at just 30 percent in a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll.

Yet for Christie, the biggest obstacles between him and the Republican nomination right now may not be his standing in New Jersey, but with the national GOP. Once a top-tier candidate coming off an impressive 2013 re-election win, Christie was hobbled by the ensuing George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal, with three key officials in his administration facing federal criminal charges.

The latest survey of national GOP voters conducted by the Monmouth University Poll had Christie tied for eighth among potential Republican candidates, trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, among others. His favorability rating was also widely upside down at 26 percent favorable and 43 percent unfavorable.

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth Poll, said Christie was wise to soften his delivery during yesterday’s announcement speech, focusing on imagery of his childhood in Livingston and his goal of restoring the country for the next generation of children, including his own, who joined him on the stage along with his wife, Mary Pat.

Matthew Hale, a political science professor at Seton Hall University, said the “hometown message” Christie emphasized should serve him well going forward.

“He made a really nice connection,” Hale said.

Right after the announcement, Christie headed to New Hampshire, where he will be holding a series of events for the next several days through the July 4th holiday weekend. He’s already focused a lot of attention and resources on the early primary state in recent weeks, and he will likely need to win or at least score very well there to become a successful candidate.

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Bramnick: Democrats’ pension resolution is ‘political theater at its worst’

Source: NJ Spotlight -

With Gov. Chris Christie set to announce a run for president this morning, Democrats who control the state Legislature gave him a bipartisan victory to tout by voting yesterday in favor of his proposal to increase a tax credit that benefits the state’s lowest-wage earners.

Jon Bramnick

 

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) called the pension-funding resolution “political theater at its worst.”

“What they should talk about is long-term reform,” Bramnick said.

 

But the Democrats were far less kind to the Republican governor in their response to another one of his key budget decisions. The Democrats quickly put forward and passed a measure that puts new pressure on Christie to make an immediate contribution into the public-employee pension system instead of waiting until this time next year.

Those actions yesterday came not only on the eve of the new state fiscal year, which begins tomorrow, but also as Christie was preparing to announce today that he will be a candidate for the GOP nomination in the 2016 presidential election.

One of the issues Christie is likely to promote during a campaign kickoff event scheduled to be held at Livingston High School, his alma mater, is an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, which he called for Friday as he was using his line-item veto authority to slash spending from the budget bill advanced by Democrats last week.

Christie said the tax credit for the state’s lowest-wage earners should go up from 20 percent of the federal version of the credit to 30 percent, putting New Jersey on par with neighboring New York. Lawmakers, in response, agreed with the governor yesterday on a bipartisan basis, with the Senate approving the change 38-1, and the Assembly passing it 62-2 with four abstentions.

That sends it back to Christie for his expected signature.

New Jersey is one of 26 states that offers its own version of the Earned Income Tax Credit. More than 500,000 people qualify for the credit in New Jersey, with income eligibility ranging from $14,590 for workers without children to $52,247 for those with three children or more, according to New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal think-tank based in Trenton. The change would give back up to $600 annually to the lowest earners.

The budget bill lawmakers sent to Christie last week appropriated $2.8 billion for the pension system during the fiscal year that begins tomorrow, nearly the full amount called for in pension-reform laws enacted in 2010 and 2011. But Christie reduced that payment while taking action on the budget Friday, saying taxpayers can only afford to contribute $1.3 billion.

That followed similar actions last year when Christie reduced pension contributions for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years by a combined $2.45 billion, cuts upheld by state courts the last two years and by the state Supreme Court earlier this month.

Christie, meanwhile, has also called for a new round of benefit reforms, including freezing the current pension system and requiring employees to accept less-generous health coverage.

The pension-funding resolution passed the Senate 24-14 and was approved by the Assembly 45-6, with 18 abstentions.

Since the measure is a resolution and not a bill, it does not have the force of law. Still, Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto (D-Hudson) said Christie should “do the right thing” and follow the Legislature’s request.

But Republican lawmakers raised concerns that the early payment would amount to arbitrage, since the state would be counting on investment returns during the fiscal year to outpace any interest that would be owed after borrowing the money upfront.

A spokesman for the state Department of Treasury also cited recent notices from Wall Street credit-rating agencies that warned more short-term borrowing could result in another downgrade for the state. New Jersey has received fiscal downgrades from all three major rating agencies several times during Christie’s tenure, leaving the state with one of the lowest bond ratings in the nation.

“Rating agencies explicitly said in statements on New Jersey this spring that increasing cash-flow borrowing could lead to further downgrades,” Treasury spokesman Christopher Santarelli said.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) called the pension-funding resolution “political theater at its worst.”

“What they should talk about is long-term reform,” Bramnick said.

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Legislature approves Christie’s low-income tax credit hike

Source: NJ 101.5 -

New Jersey residents with low incomes could see higher tax rebates under a proposal from Gov. Chris Christie being considered by the Legislature.

The Legislature approved the measure Monday, one day before Christie is to announce his presidential campaign in northern New Jersey.

Assembly Democrats and Republicans exchanged sarcasm-laced barbs over the legislation, which arose from Christie’s conditional veto of the Democrats’ tax increase on income over $1 million.

Democrats, who hold the majority, thanked Republicans for supporting the tax credit, which Christie has previously opposed. And Republicans praised Democrats for agreeing the tax increases were a bad idea.

Jon Bramnick

“Is it clear that this is a concurrence on the veto, which would include a veto on the millionaire’s tax?” asked Minority Leader Jon Bramnick. “I want to thank the majority party for finally finding a tax that they don’t like.”

The measure passed the Assembly 64-2, with two abstentions; the Senate vote was 38-1.

Previously low-wage earners could receive 20 percent of their federal earned income tax credit rebate. Christie proposed increasing the rate to 30 percent.

The liberal think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective said the increase would result in an annual pay increase of almost $600 for those getting the rebate.

Democrats proposed raising the rate to 25 percent this year along with a tax on millionaires but Christie vetoed the surcharge and instead called for increasing the credit.

 

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Bramnick thanks Dems for ‘finally finding a tax that they don’t like’

Source: Associated Press -

New Jersey residents with low incomes could see higher tax rebates under a proposal from Gov. Chris Christie being considered by the Legislature.

The Legislature approved the measure Monday, one day before Christie is to announce his presidential campaign in northern New Jersey.

Assembly Democrats and Republicans exchanged sarcasm-laced barbs over the legislation, which arose from Christie’s conditional veto of the Democrats’ tax increase on income over $1 million. Democrats, who hold the majority, thanked Republicans for supporting the tax credit, which Christie has previously opposed. And Republicans praised Democrats for agreeing the tax increases were a bad idea.

Jon Bramnick

“Is it clear that this is a concurrence on the veto, which would include a veto on the millionaire’s tax?” asked Minority Leader Jon Bramnick. “I want to thank the majority party for finally finding a tax that they don’t like.”

The measure passed the Assembly 64-2, with two abstentions; the Senate vote was 38-1.

Previously low-wage earners could receive 20 percent of their federal earned income tax credit rebate. Christie proposed increasing the rate to 30 percent.

The liberal think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective said the increase would result in an annual pay increase of almost $600 for those getting the rebate.

Democrats proposed raising the rate to 25 percent this year along with a tax on millionaires but Christie vetoed the surcharge and instead called for increasing the credit.

The debate comes after Christie signed a $33.8 billion budget into law on Friday. In addition to the tax on millionaires, he also cut out a surcharge on the state business tax.

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Bramnick’s native-species habitat bill passes the Assembly

Source: Inquirer -

A measure that would encourage homeowners to create way stations for birds, monarch butterflies, and other wildlife has unanimously passed the New Jersey General Assembly and is awaiting action in the Senate.

Jon Bramnick

“Homeowners should be encouraged to take an active role in protecting our environment,. Altering a property to comply with standards established by the DEP will help wildlife return to its natural habitat.

“Everyone has a responsibility to conserve and care for all our natural resources.” – Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick

The bipartisan bill would establish a native species habitat certification program that, lawmakers said, would benefit the ecosystem while reducing maintenance costs and the chemical treatment usually required by traditional lawns.

[Bill sponsors include] Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick and Deputy Republican Leader Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz.

A companion bill is to be considered by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee before going to a vote by the full body.

Traditional lawns comprise a significant portion of the 1.6 million acres of urban development in New Jersey but can be transformed with a patchwork of habitats that help wildlife survive in more developed areas, bill supporters said.

The legislation calls on the state Department of Environmental Protection to establish a certification program to promote habitat plans and license them.

“Homeowners should be encouraged to take an active role in protecting our environment,” said Bramnick (R., Union). “Altering a property to comply with standards established by the DEP will help wildlife return to its natural habitat.

“Everyone has a responsibility to conserve and care for all our natural resources,” he said.

New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation, with more than 30 percent of the land considered urban, including lawn areas such as office parks, golf courses, athletic fields and residential yards, New Jersey Audubon officials said.

Homeowners attempting to provide food and shelter for native wildlife have often encountered obstacles through municipal ordinances that prohibit vegetation growth above a certain height and characterize wildflowers and taller native grasses as unsightly “weeds.”

These native plant species, usually entirely absent from the traditional yard, supply nectar for pollinators and seeds for birds.

Besides establishing a native species habitat certification program, the proposed legislation would also create an affirmative defense against any liability for violating municipal nuisance ordinances for properties that are certified under the program.

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Bramnick welcomes demise of ‘destabilizing and onerous tax on job creators’

Source: Asbury Park Press / Gannett -

Handing Gov. Chris Christie a political win on the eve of the official start of his presidential bid, Democratic lawmakers moved quickly Monday to enact his surprise call to increase a tax credit for the working poor — a change benefiting more than a half-million New Jersey households.

Jon Bramnick

 

“The majority party also concurs with the veto of the millionaires’ tax, which is a destabilizing and onerous tax on job creators in the state,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union.

 

The Assembly voted 64-4, with two voting to abstain, and the Senate voted 38-1, backing Christie’s Friday proposal to increase the earned income tax credit from 20 percent of the federal level to 30 percent. The change amounts to a tax cut for some of the state’s neediest households, many still recovering from the Great Recession.

Technically, lawmakers voted to concur with Christie’s rejection of a proposed millionaires’ tax. The original bill included a plan — often vetoed by Christie — to restore the tax credit to 25 percent, as it had been until it was lowered in 2010, Christie’s first year in office.

The earned income tax credit is available to families with incomes up to $52,427, depending on the number of children in a household, and single adults with incomes up to $14,590. It affects roughly 524,000 households in New Jersey, with the benefit from the increase averaging $240 but possibly reaching $600 for the poorest workers.

The cost to the state budget from the change is around $120 million a year.

In the Assembly, where all the seats are up for election this year, the bill passed after a brief debate during which Republicans tweaked Democrats for agreeing to reject a tax hike on income over $1 million and Democrats needled Christie for underfunding the state’s pension and vetoing past efforts to raise the earned income tax credit.

“The majority party also concurs with the veto of the millionaires’ tax, which is a destabilizing and onerous tax on job creators in the state,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union.

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Republicans react to surprise pension resolution in Assembly

PolitickerNJ -

Launching lawmakers into last-minute debate prior to the close of an otherwise subdued budget season, Assembly Democrats introduced and voted up a resolution at their voting session today urging Gov. Chris Christie to make a an upfront $1.3 billion pension payment at the start of the coming fiscal year.

Leaders in the Senate and Assembly authored the surprise concurrent resolution this morning, announcing the measure in a press release prior to voting sessions in both houses. The measure calls on Christie to use the state’s line of credit to make that payment sooner than later — in July of this year rather than June of next year — in order to save some $90 million in additional investment income for the pension system.

At their 11 a.m. hearing, which was expected to see little more than the passage of a modified increase on the state Earned Income Tax Credit, the resolution fueled 11th hour debate over the budget, focusing largely on the $1.3 billion pension payment included in the $33.8 billion budget Christie signed last week. Lawmakers argued over the fiscal and economic merits of making that payment sooner, which would force the state to borrow more money now, rather than later, as is custom.

The debate also offered certain glimpses into the overall divisions among Republican and Democrats on the state’s fiscal future, with members of the former party opting for fiscal restraint and responsibility.

Caroline Casagrande

“Once again we’re here sticking our finger in a dam, when there is water already coming over the barricades,” said Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-11), lamenting the legislature’s failure to come together on a long-term solution to the pension system.

Democratic sponsors of the bill, including Prieto but also Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), say that the upfront payment would help assuage the retirement fund’s fiscal squeeze, which involves some $80 billion in unfunded liabilities. They say tapping the state’s line of credit to make the $1.3 billion pension payment early next month rather than waiting until next June is simply an extension of normal state Treasury practices — and that each year, the state borrows about $2.5 billion in July to cover an annual cash flow shortfall, and the cost of the interest payments is included in each year’s budget.

But Republicans in the Assembly today expressed skepticism over the veracity of those estimates, wondering aloud whether an upfront payment might cost the state more than it saves. Some argued that it would be more fiscally prudent to wait for projected taxes revenues to come in before funding the payment, while others slammed the surprise nature of the measure’s introduction, which they said was dropped by Democrats prior to the voting session with little notice.

Several Republicans at one point motioned to table the measure in favor of gleaning more information from the State Treasurer, though the Democratic majority easily defeated the move.

Jon Bramnick

“Keep in mind that this resolution did not come through a committee,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21), who sparred with Assembly Budget Officer Gary Schaer (D-36) over what savings an upfront payment might have. “This was, I am assuming, a last minute idea to borrow money. We did not ask to have this rushed through on the morning or afternoon of the budget.”

Still, others supported the potential to shore up the system and save taxpayer money in the short term — but stressed that such efforts must also be coupled with other, long-term reforms to the system. Republicans want Democrats to join them in working on a second overhaul to the fund, incorporating recommendations put forth by the governor’s bi-partisan pension commission.

Jay Webber

“This has to be part of a larger solution. Not how do we get to FY2016, but how are we going to do this for our kids,” added Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26), who said he would abstain from a vote on the issue.

Declan O'Scanlon

“One thing that should have been embarrassingly clear from today’s debate is that the Democrats didn’t do their homework on this idea,” said Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) in a statement following the vote. “The fact that the Democrats didn’t reach out to the treasurer to discuss the dynamics and ramifications of such a move make it abundantly clear that this is all about politics and nothing at all to do with thoughtful policy. It is outrageously irresponsible not to have done that essential homework.”

Ultimately, the resolution passed 45-6-18 in the Assembly; it later passed in the Senate as well.

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Bramnick pushes back against Dems proposal to pay pension contribution early & bank investment earnings

Star Ledger – Democratic state lawmakers acted fast Monday to force Gov. Chris Christie to make New Jersey’s pension payment at the start of the fiscal year, rather than the end, to collect an extra $90 million in investment income.

Christie has made the contribution at the end of the fiscal year, making it vulnerable to last-minute cuts, and Democrats say, missing an opportunity to reap a year’s worth of investment returns.

Under the Democrats’ plan, the state would make its annual payment in July, borrowing the money on the state’s line of credit until tax revenue starts filling state coffers.

While Democrats had largely declined to discuss details of the proposal before the budget was passed, they obliquely referred to it as a “creative” way to boost the pension payment and signal their commitment to public workers.

Lawmakers described the proposed line of credit as merely an extension of the $2.5 billion the state borrows each year at 0.52 percent to pay expenses before taxes roll in.

Jon Bramnick

After the Assembly vote Monday, Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) criticized the majority’s “scheme”, saying it’s simply “a play to their political base but not a realistic approach” to the pension problem.

The state portion of the government worker pension fund is about $40 billion short of what it would cost to pay for future benefits, ranking it as one of the worst funded in the country.

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Bramnick on another failed attempt at a Millionaires’ Tax

Source: PolitickerNJ -

The Assembly signed off on the conditional veto of the millionaire’s tax while increasing the State earned income tax credit from 20% to 30% of federal earned income tax credit for taxable years 2015 and thereafter.

The bill passed 62-4-2.

Jon Bramnick

“I want to thank the majority party [for seeing the error of the millionaire’s tax],” cracked Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21).

The [Republicans and Democrats] went back and forth … for a few minutes, with Republicans trying to claim a victory for the Dems accepting a budget that contained Chistie’s conditional veto of the millionaire’s tax in the majority party’s initial $35.3 billion submission, while Democrats ensnared the argument that the earned income tax credit increase represented a surrender by the GOP.

The governor reduced the tax credit to 20 percent of the federal credit from 25 percent in his first budget in 2010, effectively raising taxes on low-income families by $45 million, and failed to restore it in subsequent years.

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