Tag: Jon Bramnick

Bramnick supports Gov. Christie’s school funding proposal

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick praised Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal to fund schools today.

“Nothing is more fair than treating students equally no matter where they live,” said Bramnick (R-Union). “This plan will help relieve property taxpayers throughout the state and I will fight to get the governor’s plan enacted. I look forward to sponsoring it in the legislature.”

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Bramnick, Christie forge plans to bolster cybersecurity

Source: Excerpt from Bergen Record -

Governor Christie elevated the state’s cybersecurity operation Monday, creating a chief technology officer to serve as a cabinet member who reports directly to the governor.

Christie named David Weinstein, the current director of cybersecurity at the state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, to the new role.

During his news conference Monday, Christie did not take any questions on the new position.

Weinstein will be responsible “for developing and implementing strategic policies as well as information security standards and requirements,” Christie said.

Weinstein will work closely with the homeland security department, Christie added, “to streamline, modernize and innovate our technology.” Establishing the new position will “establish greater collaboration” between the Office of Information Technology and other state agencies and strengthen the state’s information technology project management, according to the administration.

Jon Bramnick

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, the Republican leader, called for a standing committee on cybersecurity to focus on laws and policies intended to protect the government, businesses and residents. He said the need for a such a committee is clear in the FBI report and after several high-profile incidents, including the repeated hacking of Rutgers University networks and a data breach at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, the largest insurer in the state.

“Computer viruses, hackers and other technology-related incidents affect our lives in ways that range from inconvenient to life-threatening,” Bramnick, R-Union, said in a statement. “As our dependence on data networks increases, cybercriminals find new opportunities to exploit people. A standing committee focused on these constant changes would help the state better protect the public.”

The new office will work in cloud computing, application development, data analytics and identity theft, among other areas, Christie said.

“Just ask any CTO in the private sector. Cybersecurity is the top priority and the same is true for the state of New Jersey,” Christie said.

Christie said the state will spend an extra $10 million this fiscal year on “hardening systems against the most sophisticated of cyberattacks.” That effort will include “comprehensive” audits of the state’s infrastructure and assessing its networks over the next year for potential compromises. The assessments will also ensure protecting state residents who “entrust” the government with sensitive personal information, Christie said.

“All of us see the great potential in the burgeoning expansion in technology, but we also see the perils that are involved as well. And those perils are real to the people of our state, just as real as the opportunities are,” Christie said.

The announcement of the new position comes at a time of heightened awareness of cyber threats and attacks. Last year, New Jersey ranked eighth nationwide for having the most cyber attacks and the ninth-most in financial losses as a result, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The governor’s office said it was moving in the direction of strengthening its cyber efforts anyway, but the FBI report “certainly underscores the necessity,” spokesman Brian Murray said.

 

 

 

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Bramnick on possible solution to transportation funding riddle

Source: Excerpted from NJ Spotlight -

A newly released bipartisan plan to replenish New Jersey’s going-broke Transportation Trust Fund calls for a more than doubling of the per-gallon tax that motorists here currently pay at the pump. But it’s how the same plan would impact other taxes, including New Jersey’s notoriously high property tax bills, that its sponsors and supporters are hoping will drive the debate in the State House over the next few weeks.

The Transportation Trust Fund renewal initiative unveiled by state Sens. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) and Steve Oroho (R-Sussex) on Friday would replace a five-year, $8 billion finance plan that expires at the end of the month with a more ambitious 10-year, $20 billion plan that would take effect on July 1. Both senators said their plan would mean upgrading the state’s crumbling roads and bridges while also adding to the infrastructure by expanding light rail into Bergen and Gloucester counties. The transportation spending is also intended to provide a boost to the state’s economy and keep local governments from being forced to raise property taxes to pay for road and bridge maintenance.

The plan would be funded with a blend of revenue raised from borrowing and from a set of proposed fuel-tax hikes that, though largely levied at the wholesale level, would likely result in the state’s current, 14.5-cent per-gallon gas tax increasing to 37.5 cents per-gallon. Jet-fuel taxes would also go up, and all of the new revenue from the fuel-tax hikes — an estimated $1.36 billion annually — would be constitutionally dedicated to road, bridge, and rail-network projects. Electric car owners would also face new $150 annual fees as part of the senators’ plan.

But the proposed legislation to enact the gas-tax plan also includes a series of proposed tax cuts that are designed to make New Jersey more affordable, particularly for seniors, low-wage workers, and others who would be hit the hardest by the increased fuel taxes.

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union), speaking during a Friday appearance on NJTV’s nightly newscast, warned that not everyone from his party will be onboard with a tax hike. But he also added that, with lawmakers also talking about making broad tax cuts, there will be some interest among GOP lawmakers.

“I’m pleased as to what I see,” Bramnick said. “I think we’ll be able to get there, at least with some Republicans.”

Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said in a meeting with NJ Spotlight editors and reporters on Friday that he’s aiming for a veto-proof majority, at least in the Senate, with Oroho’s involvement likely a factor in winning votes from the other side of the aisle.

Right now, New Jersey’s gas tax is the nation’s second-lowest, with a 10.5-cent per-gallon tax on gasoline sold at the pump and a 4-cent per-gallon petroleum products gross-receipts tax on motor fuels and some non-motor fuels that is levied on refineries and distributors and then passed along to motorists. But those taxes will only produce enough revenue beginning July 1 to pay off the Transportation Trust Fund’s significant debt, leaving no money at all for new projects.

The senators’ plan to renew the fund would leave the current tax 10.5-cent tax on gasoline at the pump untouched, but a new 7 percent tax would be levied at the wholesale level on motor fuels that would function much like sales tax. At current gas prices, that new 7 percent tax would equal about 13 cents more per-gallon.

The plan also calls for the same new charge on jet fuel and some nonmotor fuels. And it would also add 10 cents to the gross receipts tax levied at the wholesale level and hit diesel sales as well.

At the end of the day, if passed without any changes, the proposed fuel-tax changes would likely increase New Jersey’s per-gallon gas tax to 37.5 cents, which would be seventh-highest among all states. But the senators stress New Jersey would still charge less than what motorists pay at the pump in Pennsylvania, where the state gas tax is 51.60 cents, and in New York, where the state gas tax is 45.99 cents. That gap, Sweeney said, would still remain large enough to entice out-of-state motorists to fill up in New Jersey.

And since an estimated 30 percent of the current revenue comes in from out-of-state drivers and truckers, the senators argue it would also require those motorists to contribute toward maintaining New Jersey’s infrastructure for the next decade.

The senators’ plan would also ease the state’s reliance on large subsidies from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Reliance on the state sales tax beyond a $200 million annual dedication that’s been in place since the 2004 fiscal year would also be eased. This year the state budget is providing the trust fund with $546 million in revenue from the sales, according to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services.

But it’s the tax-relief components of the plan that the sponsors and supporters are hoping will get much more attention in the coming weeks, including a proposed doubling of state transportation aid for county and local governments.

The local governments have had to operate within a 2 percent cap on property tax hikes since 2011, but they’ve been able to borrow for road and bridge repairs outside of that cap. The senators’ plan would increase the annual transportation aid from $200 million to $400 million, and also create a local infrastructure bank, all with the goal of helping local governments control property tax bills that rose to a record-high average of $8,353 last year.

Also on the tax-relief side of the plan is a proposal to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage workers from 30 percent of the federal credit to 40 percent of the federal credit. That proposal also has support from the Democratic leaders in the Assembly. And their framework also calls for the creation of a new transparency website to keep track of infrastructure spending.

A new income tax credit for those paying more than 1 percent of their total income on gasoline taxes would also be created to help offset the burden of higher gas tax on lower-income residents. The state would also create a new income tax credit for contributions made to charitable organizations, but it will initially be limited to just those providing social services like homeless shelters and food banks.

And for retirees, the state would lift its income-tax exemptions on pensions, annuities, 401(k) plans and other sources of retirement income over the next several years. That would mean exemptions that are set right now at $15,000 for individuals and $20,000 for couples would eventually rise to $50,000 and $100,000.

But the biggest proposed tax cut would phase out New Jersey’s estate tax by the end of 2019. Right now, New Jersey has the lowest estate-tax exemption in the nation, at $675,000, and the tax itself generates an estimated $400 million to $500 million annually.

Adding the phase-out of the estate-tax to the transportation-funding plan provides a big test for Christie, a second-term Republican, because he’s called for an elimination of the estate tax this year and has also been critical of prior efforts that would have taken longer to get rid of the tax.

 

 

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Bramnick on bipartisan proposal to cut Estate Tax, raise Gas Tax for Transportation Trust Fund

Source: NJTV News [video] -

Cheap Jersey gas may follow the Edsel down the highway into history. A 23-cent a gallon gas tax is part of a draft deal that would finally refill the fund that pays for repairing and replacing crumbling roads and bridges. The bipartisan proposal combines tax hikes with some cuts to pump $20 billion into the Transportation Trust Fund over 10 years. It’s a plan even the gasoline retailers are backing. NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams and Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron spoke about the latest developments with Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick.

Jon Bramnick

“Well, it’s a gas tax, but technically it’s on buying something so I’ll call it a sales tax. Bottom line is, oh absolutely not everyone is on board. But we’re beginning to get to the point where we’re talking about lowering some taxes. I said from day one, I think the governor said from day one, we need some tax fairness, we need some tax reduction, we’re moving forward and I’m pleased as to what I see. I think we’ll be able to get there, at least with some Republicans.” – Asm. Jon Bramnick

 

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Bramnick resolution targets discrimination

Assembly Republican Press Release -

A resolution condemning all discrimination, sponsored by Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, was advanced today by the State and Local Government Committee. AR-139 states “Discrimination threatens the rights and privileges enjoyed by the inhabitants of this great nation,” and urges other states to enact laws protecting the rights of their residents.

Jon Bramnick

“Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. Period,” said Bramnick (R—Union). “Intolerance is tearing our society apart. Too often, the Assembly is asked to vote on resolutions condemning discrimination after every incident of narrow-mindedness. This time, we want to be crystal clear: As a body, we are condemning discrimination, in every form, for every reason.”

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Bramnick: Pension Amendment will only make pension problem worse

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick commented on the Democrats’ push in the Assembly Judiciary Committee today for a constitutional amendment mandating contributions to New Jersey’s public pension system on the ballot in November.

Jon Bramnick

“If we are going to fix our pension problems, this is not the answer,” said Bramnick (R-Union). “It ties our hands and jeopardizes school aid and property tax relief by removing our ability to balance all priorities against available revenues. Without meaningful structural changes that make pensions affordable, our pension obligations will grow and the state’s credit rating will continue to fall. The non-partisan pension study commission put forward an alternative that would avoid this calamity for our state and this injustice for our taxpayers.”

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Bramnick, Dancer bill paves way for betting at Far Hills Race Meeting

Source: Excerpt from Asbury Park Press -

A bipartisan bill to allow betting at the annual Far Hills Race Meeting has been approved by the state Assembly’s Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee.

The bill would also allow simulcasting of the races that have been a highlight of fall in Central Jersey for nearly a century. This year’s races — highlighted by the Grand National, which with a $350,000 purse is America’s richest steeplechase — will be held Oct. 15.

“I think it’s great,” said Guy Torsilieri, chairman of the Far Hills Race Meeting Association. “We’ve been working on this for a long time.”

Torsilieri said the committee’s approval is the first step in a “long process” that includes votes in both houses of the state Legislature and the governor signing the bill into law.

The daylong event at Moorland Farms has raised more than $17 million for Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset. The Steeplechase Cancer Center on the hospital’s Somerville campus is named in honor of the races, which are attended annually by more than 35,000 spectators.

Jon Bramnick

“The Far Hills Race Meeting has a long tradition of supporting the highest quality of health care for people in Central New Jersey,” said Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, a Republican who represents Far Hills in the 21st District.

The bill would authorize the New Jersey Racing Commission to grant a two-day permit each year to allow betting on the steeplechase races.

The bill is part of an effort to revive New Jersey’s ailing race horse industry.

Ron Dancer

“This legislation will heighten the profile of New Jersey’s diverse horse racing meeting and, in particular, steeplechase racing to a broader national and international audience,” said Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-12th District), a former horseman and the son of the late Harness Racing Hall of Fame driver Stanley Dancer. “We are taking this great New Jersey tradition and making it even better.”

The bill, which will go before the full Assembly for a vote, allows a running race permit holder to coordinate with the Far Hills Race Meeting Association to allow wagering on the seven-race card.

The bill requires that, before issuing a permit, the New Jersey Racing Association give written notice to Far Hills before the races. The municipality could object to the permit by passing a resolution and forwarding it to the commission, which would not issue a permit.

But if the municipality does not object, the commission may grant the permit.

The bill also allows the permit holder to enter into an agreement with the race organizer for distribution of the money, which, under law, would be given to the permit holder.

According to the Far Hills Race Meeting Association, two-thirds of those who attend the races have annual incomes of more than $150,000.

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Panel approves Dancer/Bramnick legislation allowing betting at annual Far Hills Steeplechase

Assembly Republican Press Release -

A bill authorizing pari-mutuel wagering on races at the Far Hills Races, sponsored by Assemblymen Ron Dancer and Jon Bramnick, was advanced today by the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee. The bill (A1697) authorizes the New Jersey Racing Commission to grant one “special” two-day permit every year to allow betting on steeplechase races.

Bramnick, the Assembly’s Republican leader, represent the district that includes Moorland Farm in Far Hills, the site of the meeting.

Ron Dancer

“This legislation will heighten the profile of New Jersey’s diverse horse racing industry and, in particular, steeplechase racing to a broader national and international audience,” said Dancer (R—Ocean). “We are taking this great New Jersey tradition and making it even better.”

This year marks the 96th running of the Far Hills races, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15. The seven-race program is highlighted by the Grand National, America’s richest steeplechase race with a $350,000 purse. Each year the one-day festival attracts more than 35,000 spectators, with proceeds benefiting Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Somerset and health care in the region.

Jon Bramnick

“The Far Hills Race Meeting has a long tradition of supporting the highest quality of healthcare for people in Central New Jersey,” said Bramnick (R—Somerset). “Adding wagering to this prestigious event will help provide more money for the fight against cancer.”

The Steeplechase Cancer Center at Robert Wood Johnson is named in honor of the Far Hills races, which have raised more than $17 million for the medical center.

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Leader Bramnick to Receive NJ’s Highest Arts Education Award Today

The Governor’s Award for Lifetime Contribution in Arts Education

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick has been selected as a recipient of the Governor’s Award for Lifetime Contribution in Arts Education for his efforts in promoting the importance of the arts in New Jersey’s school system. The award is presented by the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership.

Bramnick, R-Union, will receive the award during a 4:30 p.m. ceremony held in Patriots Theater at the Trenton War Memorial on Thursday, May 26. The event is a partnership of the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, the Department of Education, Art Pride New Jersey Foundation, the Department of State and the N.J. State Council on the Arts.

Bramnick sponsored the law signed by Gov. Christie in January that requires school districts to weigh visual and performing arts courses equally to other subjects. The classes now receive the same level of importance in determining a student’s grade point average (GPA).

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Bramnick calls for tax cuts to make New Jersey competitive

Source: Excerpt from NJ Spotlight -

Lawmakers who want to get rid of New Jersey’s estate tax and make other tax cuts say they’re not scared by new forecasts that predict state tax revenue will fall about $1 billion short of original projections through the middle of next year.

Jon Bramnick

 

“You have to do what you have to do to get competitive,” Bramnick said. “We better do it quickly.”

 

 

Instead, they’re doubling down on their calls for change, arguing that cuts will go a long way toward fixing the state’s broader budget problems.

But tax-cut critics are pointing to a series of new spending reductions announced by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration earlier this week to bolster their position. Feeling the pain of these cuts will be hospitals, New Jersey’s business community, and others — and critics warn even deeper spending reductions would follow any new tax cuts.

How it all shakes out over the next few weeks remains to be seen, especially since the tax-cut issue has become part of an ongoing bipartisan conversation among lawmakers about the best way to renew the state’s Transportation Trust Fund before it goes broke this summer. And it’s Christie, who has been calling for more “tax fairness” in New Jersey, who will likely have the last word.

New Jersey’s acting state Treasurer Ford Scudder announced earlier this week that the Christie administration is scaling back its revenue projections for the fiscal year that ends June 30 by $603 million. The primary reason for the downgraded revenue forecast is income-tax collections that have failed to meet the administration’s latest growth projections.

Scudder attributed the problem primarily to a poorly performing stock market, and the volatility created by the state’s heavy reliance on those at the upper-income levels. So when only a few of those taxpayers have a bad year, the state will likely have one as well.

The solution, suggested Sen. Steven Oroho (R-Sussex), is to broaden the tax base by making the state’s policies more hospitable to those in the upper-income brackets. Oroho has been among those leading the way in calling for a phase out of New Jersey’s estate tax.

In the Assembly, Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) has been among those who’ve also been calling for more tax cuts. Asked in the State House yesterday if the new tax-revenue figures give him any pause, Bramnick said Oroho’s view is the right one because other states right now have far more attractive tax policies.

“You have to do what you have to do to get competitive,” Bramnick said. “We better do it quickly.”

 

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