Tag: Jon Bramnick

Bramnick proposals on redistricting, long-term planning proposals have merit – Editorial

Jon Bramnick

Asbury Park Press Editorial  -

Just because a politician such as Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, makes suggestions that are political in nature and, quite possibly, self-serving doesn’t mean the suggestions are wholly without merit. He made two of them last week, and both need to be taken seriously.

First, he proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would require electoral competitiveness to be a major factor in deciding how legislative districts are drawn every 10 years.

Bramnick also proposed creating four joint legislative committees to, in his words, “restore fiscal sanity” to the state by conducting what he called “long-term strategic planning” to address the state’s most vexing problems. These committees could help lower the temperature of heated disagreements between the two parties, and perhaps give shape to possible compromise solutions.

The idea of making the state’s elections more competitive is a sound one, and legislators should have the courage to support it. While the idea has merit, it could change the electoral map to enable the GOP to pick up seats in the Assembly and Senate, and it is hard to imagine the entrenched incumbents would put it on a ballot for the voters to decide.

But they should. And Bramnick, albeit a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2017 looking to grab all the positive press he can get, would be doing a service by keeping this critical issue front and center. Gerrymandered districts keep qualified candidates from even attempting to run for office.

The lack of competitiveness is so rampant that even with Gov. Chris Christie’s landslide victory last year, the GOP failed to make any gains in the Legislature. The Democrats maintained a 24-to-16 advantage in the Senate and a 48-32 edge in the Assembly.

As with most elections in New Jersey at the federal, state and even county level, the outcomes are usually determined well in advance, thanks to factors that tilt heavily in favor of incumbents and one political party or the other.

In the gerrymandered state legislative districts, no incumbent state senators or Assembly representatives have been defeated in at least the last two election cycles, other than one victim of redistricting in 2011. Victory margins of less than 10 percent are rare.

In Ocean County, a Democrat hasn’t won a seat on the freeholder board in more than 20 years; in Monmouth County, Republicans have controlled the board for 24 of the last 25 years.

While Bramnick’s idea is welcome, it is quixotic and ultimately hobbled by a Democratic-controlled Legislature whose members are by and large satisfied with the status quo. To get the question on the ballot for voters to decide, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Hudson, would have to agree to put it up for a vote in their respective chambers, and it would have to pass both houses with a supermajority before the voters could weigh in.

That is highly unlikely, given that such a vote could conceivably jeopardize the Democratic majorities.

Bramnick’s other worthy proposal would create four joint legislative committees. They would examine the possibility of phasing out public workers’ pensions in favor of 401(k) accounts; repealing or reducing income and inheritance taxes; evaluating the school funding formula; and promoting the state’s generous corporate incentive programs.

Such bipartisan committees are an absolute necessity given the fiscal mess in this state. The pension system is sorely underfunded, New Jersey residents are overtaxed and the school funding formula remains unfair. Whether the state’s tax breaks for corporations are far too generous is at least a matter for debate.

These issues have dogged the state, led to too many stalemates in Trenton, and continue to cost the taxpayers hard-earned money.

The committees Bramnick proposes would of necessity include members of both parties, who would be charged with working together to come up with recommendations that might have a shot at getting a fair hearing. These four issues are not going to be solved by passing a single piece of legislation for each of the issues.

Bramnick pointed out that Democrats worked with Christie early in his administration to curb property tax growth and trim public workers’ benefits.

Until the George Washington Bridge scandal emerged, lawmakers demonstrated they could work well with those across the aisle. Since then, the bipartisanship has soured.

Bramnick said the committees would encourage lawmakers “to be problem solvers instead of partisans.”

The lack of competitiveness in the state’s elections makes a mockery of what democracy is supposed to be. The state’s long-term financial woes, bad and getting worse, cost New Jerseyans far too much.

Bramnick has suggested a possible solution to the problem of increased electoral competitiveness and at least a possible way forward for the Legislature to address a number of the state’s grave fiscal issues.

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Bramnick, Handlin blast Investigations Committee for lack of results

Source: PolitickerNJ -

Minutes before the Legislative Select Committee on Investigation began its questioning of Chris Christie’s incoming Chief of Staff Regina Egea here today, two republican lawmakers on the committee called for an end to the man hunt.

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-13) and state Sen. Jon Bramnick (R-21) asked why the committee, led by chairman John Wisniewski (D-19), has yet to turn up concrete results on what caused last year’s lane closings on the George Washington Bridge despite already hearing from a number of top Chris Christie aides.

Amy Handlin

“So that begs the question, what exactly was he doing?,” Hadnlin asked of Wisniewski. “Why do we have to come in here and tie up our own staff and keep the meter running when we have nothing to show for it, and there’s no end in sight?”

“If we want to just extend the pain then let’s talk honestly about it — if we don’t then we ought to send Counsel Reid Schar on an extended summer vacation, and we ought to give the taxpayers a vacation from the apparently endless costs of this committee,” she added. “We need to take an account of those costs and collectively make a decision to either show … where we’re going, or stop this.”

Bramnick and Handlin blasted the committee for wasting taxpayer money.

Jon Bramnick

“It appears that the us attorney is trying to turn of the John Wisniewski show, but John Wisniewski doesn’t want to turn the lights out. He wants to continue to spend despite the fact the investigations [haven’t turned up anything]. My reading is: don’t call any of these people, because what’s the next step? Stop the politicians investigating politicians,” Bramnick said.

Handlin then turned the conversation to recent controversies surrounding Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop. Last week, allegations surfaced that Fulop, who just finished his first year in office, may have directed Jersey City police to snarl traffic outside the Holland Tunnel.

Handlin earlier this week asked the committee to subpeona Fulop and the city’s police chief.

“Is the Holland Tunnel somehow less important than the George Washington Bridge? Or is the problem really that the mayor of Jersey City is a Democrat and the Governor is Republican?,” Handlin asked.

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Bramnick Supports Mayor Fulop’s Decision to Take Down Memorial to Cop Killer

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, Morris and Somerset, issued the following statement regarding Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s decision to take down the memorial to the person who killed Officer Melvin Santiago which was criticized in a Star Ledger editorial today:

Jon Bramnick

“Despite the Star Ledger’s criticism of Mayor Fulop’s decision to remove a memorial to the Jersey City cop killer, there comes a time that we as a society must respond to actions that violate the basic principles of a civilized society. Mayor Fulop acted as a leader. End of story.”

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Bramnick on Casino Closings [video]

Jon Bramnick

Source: Press of Atlantic City [video] -

NJ Assemblyman Republican Leader Jon Bramnick Speaks on Casino Closings

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Bramnick, Fiocchi visit Ocean City to discuss tourism industry [video]

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick and Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi are joined by Ocean City mayor Jay Gillian (left) and Cape May County freeholder Marie Hayes, as they tour the Ocean City Boardwalk.

Source: Press of Atlantic City [video] -

Accompanied by Cape May County Freeholder Marie Hayes and Mayor Jay Gillian, 1st District Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi and Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick visited three longtime Boardwalk icons Tuesday to promote bills to bolster small businesses and the tourism industry.

Bramnick, making his first visit to America’s Greatest Family Resort on what he plans to be one of many such stops throughout the state to address fiscal responsibility, said his primary purpose in joining Fiocchi was to support the assemblyman, whom he called “a breath of fresh air” and lauded for his “common-sense approach to problems.”

Soon after he was elected, Fiocchi introduced two bills to benefit the region’s seasonal economy. A-2776 would establish the County Tourism Incentive Grant Fund to provide funding for grants to counties to support tourism. A-2983 would provide business tax and income tax credits for certain seasonal employers, one of which would help close the gap between the federal minimum wage and the state minimum wage, should the state wage exceed the federal one.

Anna Palmieri, owner of Litterer’s, a Boardwalk business since 1918, liked what the men had to say. “I think it’s really nice they’re getting in touch with the businesspeople,” she said. “I definitely agree with them on the plan they have.”

She said maintaining a lower minimum wage would allow her to hire more employees. “Ocean City needs as many friends in Trenton as it can get,” said Gillian, who was joined on the tour by his wife, Michele, the executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce. “They see how successful we’ve been and wanted to see how seashore businesses were doing.”

Although Ocean City has a “great business model” and is “very responsible with our budgets,” Gillian said the “business community needs help.” “We’re paying for everything,” he said, listing health care, workman’s compensation, liability insurance and payroll taxes among the burdens that small businesses bear. “The costs and taxes keep going up and the seasons keep getting shorter.”

In addition to supporting Fiocchi, Bramnick used the visit to discuss the need to reform the state’s inheritance tax, the highest in the nation. “We’ve reached a crisis in New Jersey,” he said. “People can’t afford to stay here. People can’t afford to die here. We have to change for the survival of the state.”

The inheritance tax could be devastating to the very businesses the assemblymen visited, Bramnick said. Shriver’s, which opened in 1898, is the oldest business on the Boardwalk.

Johnson’s Popcorn has been a landmark since 1940. The tour also stopped at one of the town’s newest ventures, Boardwalk Bounce, where Bramnick, Fiocchi and Hayes all joined a much younger crowd on the inflatable slides.

Bramnick called Cape May County a “treasure” and Ocean City “a special place that is clean and family-oriented,” and said he was looking forward to returning soon for more of the Boardwalk fare he enjoyed Tuesday. “I could pick out candy all day long,” he said during the tour of Shriver’s, where bins in the production room were filled with saltwater taffy in a profusion of colors.

Gillian did just that, helping himself to a chocolate taffy.

“He’s allowed,” said Hank Glaser, whose family has owned the candy store for decades. “He’s the mayor.”

CLICK HERE for more video

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Bramnick: Time to make it more difficult for N.J. incumbents

Source: Asbury Park Press -

With incumbent New Jersey lawmakers generally having an easy time holding onto their offices each election cycle – preserving Democrat advantages in both the Senate and Assembly – Republicans want to overhaul the redistricting process that takes place every 10 years following the U.S. Census.

Jon Bramnick

Assembly GOP leader Jon Bramnick on Monday called for a voter referendum that would amend the state constitution to require competitive elections where the difference between major party candidates would likely be less than 10 percent. The projections would be based on voter registration data, Bramnick said.

Of New Jersey’s 40 legislative districts, only 3 areas are considered competitive. The same thing happens at the federal level with less than 2 dozen of the 435 House districts within reach of both parties.

Bramnick, R-Union, said there will have to be a push by local elected officials and residents to convince majority Democrats “to look at’’ redistricting reforms.

Bramnick said he hasn’t consulted with Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Hudson, but intends to. Officials with the New Jersey Democratic State Committee didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

“The districts have become so partisan that representatives play to the wings and not to the middle,’’ Bramnick said. “The reason you want competitive districts is that when you watch legislators (who come from competitive districts) vote, they tend to vote differently than their caucuses sometimes, because they understand they have to appeal to the middle ground. They have to be problem-solvers.’’

Bramnick said he also plans to discuss with Prieto forming four long-range strategic planning committees to look at the state’s inheritance “death tax,’’ school funding, and enlisting future public employees in 401-k retirement plans rather than traditional pensions.

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Bramnick launches NJ ‘Fiscal Sanity Tour’

NJ 101.5 -

For more than a decade, New Jersey has been cash-strapped, to say the least. Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick said it is time for a common sense approach to righting the ship. At a State House press conference Monday, Bramnick announced his summer “Fiscal Sanity” tour.

Under Bramnick’s plan four bipartisan, bicameral committees would be created to address issues of government tax and spending policies. He also called for a constitutional amendment to move up the redistricting process and change the way the political map is drawn. He said the idea is to produce more competitive legislative races.

Jon Bramnick

“This would set up a strategic planning committee that looks at the school funding formula. Another would looking at phasing in 401Ks while preserving the pensions for those (public employees) who have earned those pension,” said Bramnick (R-Westfield).

A third committee would look at the state’s inheritance, estate and income taxes. The final panel would be tasked with preserving business incentive programs.

In 2011, Republicans lost the most recent redistricting fight when an independent tie-breaker chose the Democrats’ map, all but ensuring the latter party would retain control of both legislative houses until 2021. Bramnick said if the process was changed to allow districts to be drawn so that one party has no more than a 10 percent voter advantage, bi-partisanship could thrive in New Jersey.

“Because the districts have become so partisan, representatives play to the wings and not to the middle,” Bramnick said.

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Bramnick wants more competitive legislative districts

Burlington County Times -

The Assembly’s Republican leader wants to redraw New Jersey’s legislative map before the decade’s end and with an eye toward making districts more competitive and less safe for incumbents.

Jon Bramnick, R-21st of Westfield, said Monday he would introduce a constitutional amendment to require the bipartisan commission that redraws the boundaries to consider the political balance and competitiveness as a major factor when performing their task.

He argued that crafting more competitive districts would promote more cooperation and less partisanship among lawmakers.

Jon Bramnick

“When you watch legislators vote who come from competitive districts, they tend to vote differently than their caucuses sometimes, because they understand they have to appeal to middle ground. They have to be problem solvers,” Bramnick said during a Statehouse news conference.

“We need a map that reflects this so-called bipartisanship we see in swing districts,” he said.

The process of redrawing legislative boundaries is undertaken every decade after the U.S. census count. Officials redraw the boundaries between state districts to reflect population shifts so that each area represents roughly the same number of people.

In New Jersey, the realigning is done by the state Redistricting Commission, a panel of appointees made up of five Democrats and five Republicans plus an 11th tiebreaking member agreed upon by the commission or selected by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

Although the commission is charged with redrawing the map to reflect population shifts and promote minority representation, politics winds up playing a major role, with each party vying to create a map with as many voters as possible likely to choose its candidates.

Bramnick said his proposal wouldn’t drastically alter the process but would require both parties to propose maps that promote competitive elections in as many districts as possible.

For example, boundaries would be required to be drawn so that no party has more than a 10 percent edge in the number of registered party members in any single district, and independents’ voting history also would be required to be considered.

In addition, Bramnick’s proposal would allow any resident to challenge the map selected by the redistricting commission and offer an alternative to the Supreme Court.

In addition to the amendment, Bramnick also proposed forming long-term strategic planning committees to address some major issues such as the state’s school funding formula, public employees pension and health benefits, reducing the income, inheritance and estate taxes, and promoting the state’s business incentives.

Bramnick said the committees should have equal representation from both parties and both legislative chambers, and would be charged with devising long-term solutions to the state’s problems.

“We’ve been managing the state — at least in the legislative area — by crisis,” he said. “We need to turn that into long-term strategic planning. I think the administration has done that. They’ve looked long term and continue to look long term. It’s time for the Legislature to do the same.”

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Bramnick proposed legislative changes to foster compromise, sharpen focus

Source: NewsWorks -

The top Republican in the Democratic-controlled New Jersey Assembly wants to create legislative panels to focus on long-term planning and problem solving.

The bipartisan committees could tackle a range of issues including the pension system, the school funding formula, and business incentive programs, said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick.

Jon Bramnick

“This strategic long-term planning committee would look at phasing in 401(k)s while preserving the pensions for those who’ve earned those pensions, and working with actuaries and experts on how to revamp that system long term,” he said Monday as he introduced his plan.

Long-range planning is also needed to deal with the state’s inheritance tax and estate tax, also known as the death tax, he added.

“I assure you that this that is a significant threat to the stability of this state. This death tax is a death long-term to this state,” said Bramnick, R-Union. “People are planning now to leave.”

Bramnick also proposed a constitutional amendment that would make competition a key factor for legislative redistricting so that neither major party would have a 10 percent or larger voter registration advantage.

That, he said, would encourage lawmakers to be problem solvers instead of partisans.

“When you watch people vote, legislators vote, who come from competitive districts, they tend to vote differently than their caucuses sometimes because they understand they have to appeal to middle ground,” Bramnick said.

The earliest the measure might be on the ballot for voters would be November 2015, he said

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Top Assembly Republican wants redistricting do-over

Star Ledger -

Three years after Republicans lost a battle to redraw the state’s legislative districts, the Assembly’s top GOP member is asking for a do-over.

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) – who represents a safely Republican district – today proposed asking voters to amend the constitution so that competitiveness is enshrined as a major factor in deciding how legislative districts are drawn every 10 years.

Bramnick said lawmakers in the few districts that are hotly contested between Republicans and Democrats tend to reach across the aisle more often than those who are ensconced safely in partisan territory.

“Then we will regain that bipartisanship that is so desperately needed in the state,” Bramnick said at a Statehouse news conference. “Because the districts have become so partisan, representatives play to the wings, and not to the middle.”

Bramnick said that Democrats started out working with Republican Gov. Chris Christie to curb property tax growth and trim public workers’ benefits. But he said the ongoing investigation into the George Washington Bridge access lane closings shows how the relationship between the governor and Legislature has devolved.

“I believe that Democrats have taken the process of reform and turned it into an investigation into so-called Bridgegate. I want to redirect the state back to the reform agenda,” Bramnick said.

After each census, a New Jersey state legislative redistricting commission is formed with five Democrats and five Republicans. If the 10 members are unable to come to an agreement on a map, the state Supreme Court’s chief justice picks an 11th, tie-breaking member.

In 2011, the tie breaker – the late Alan Rosenthal – sided with Democrats, who , despite the landslide re-election of Republican Gov. Chris Christie, retained their majorities in the state Senate and Assembly last year.

But to get the question on the ballot for voters to decide, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) would have to first agree to put it up for a vote in the Legislature. And it’s unlikely they would agree to jeopardize their parties’ majorities.

Tom Hester, Jr. , a spokesman for Assembly Democrats, noted that the Bramnick event was organized with the help of Rick Rosenberg, a Republican campaign consultant.

Even though the next redistricting isn’t scheduled until 2021, Bramnick said that if voters were to approve the constitutional amendment, he’s like to do it sooner, and then again in 2021. Barring that, Bramnick said he’d be willing to wait until 2021.

Bramnick – who is considered a potential candidate for governor — also proposed creating four joint legislative committees to “restore fiscal sanity” to the state by conducting “long-term strategic planning.”

The committees would examine phasing out public workers’ pensions in favor of 401k accounts, repealing or reducing income and inheritance taxes, evaluating the school funding formula and promoting the state’s generous corporate incentive programs.

“We have committees, but these committees always deal with the issues of the day. They deal with whatever bills are on the agenda. There are no committees that deal with long term strategic planning,” Bramnick said. “Now any business worth its weight has a long-term strategic planning committee.”

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