Tag: Jon Bramnick

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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Bramnick, Webber on consequences of massive increase to minimum wage

Source: Excerpt from the Bergen Record -

An Assembly committee on Thursday advanced a bill that would gradually boost New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2021.

By a 6-3 party line vote, the Assembly Labor committee moved the bill to a vote by the full Assembly. The Senate Labor committee approved an identical measure on Monday.

Thursday’s vote came after a debate between the Democratic lawmakers who say the bill is needed to create “a livable wage” and Republican assemblymen who questioned the impact the bill will have on job creation.

Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Secaucus, a co-sponsor, noted that other states like New York and California have already approved a $15 minimum wage.

Jay Webber

Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-Morris, asked Prieto and the bill co-sponsor John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, if they had been to an Applebee’s restaurant lately.

He described how the restaurant chain has enabled customers to place their orders via an iPad.

“Do you think that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is going to start pricing people out of the labor market especially if technology will replace them?” Webber asked.

Wisniewski replied that restaurants are always going to use new technology to lower their costs.

Webber agreed but said that hiking the minimum wage will drive employers to look for ways to limit the number of their employees.

“I don’t think you stop the march of technology, but you certainly can speed it up,” Webber said. “And when you raise the cost of employing individuals you’re going to give people incentives to find technology to replace people faster.”

The bill would increase the state’s hourly minimum wage from $8.38 to $10.10 with an increase of $1 annually until it reaches $15. Further increases would be tied to the consumer price index.

Democratic leaders have said that they expect Governor Christie will veto the bill. Once that happens, they plan to place it on the November 2017 ballot.

Jon Bramnick

The measure spurred criticism from Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, who said the minimum wage hike was the latest example of what he called “The Bernie effect” alluding to Democratic presidential contender Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Sanders has pressed his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton on several fronts including income inequality.

“They (New Jersey Democratic lawmakers) are so afraid of the left wing of their party that they are going off the rails,” Bramnick said at a news conference. He said New Jersey’s current minimum wage is higher than 34 states including neighboring Pennsylvania at $7.25.

 

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Bramnick: Dems are suffering from ‘Bernie Sanders effect’

Source: Politico New Jersey -

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick said Thursday that state Democratic leaders are suffering from the “Bernie Sanders effect,” which, he says, has led the party’s elected officials to move so far to the left that they’re willing to adopt a “radical socialist policy.”

Bramnick repreated the phrase “Bernie Sanders effect” seven times, and, on a few other occasions, invoked the Democratic presidential candidate’s name, including one mention of “the ghost of Bernie Sanders,” during a news conference at the statehouse.

“Bernie Sanders is pushing even New Jersey legislators to a radical left position that I’m not sure they’re even comfortable with,” Bramnick said.

Citing a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 and protracted debates over how best to deal with Atlantic City’s fiscal crisis, the assemblyman said the Democrats’ agenda reflects what he sees as the party’s misplaced priorities.

He did not identify by name the officials he believes to be under the influence of Sanders, but noted that Senate President Stephen Sweeney was not among them. Sweeney, with the backing of Gov. Chris Christie, has proposed a state takeover of Atlantic City, but Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto objected to because it would allow the state to break union contracts. The two are in talks over a compromise bill .

“Here’s a Democratic majority that cannot save one of the biggest cities in our state. Why? I’ll tell you why: Bernie Sanders effect,” Bramnick said. “The public unions would rather the city of Atlantic City go bankrupt than allow the austerity moves that the state, led by the governor, would do. Bernie Sanders effect.”

“The Democrats can’t compromise. They’re stuck in this unfortunate problem of — I call it the left wing of the party — and I think it’s stopping Atlantic City from having a resolution,” Bramnick added.

On the minimum wage, the assemblyman — who is co-sponsoring a bill (A1318) that would establish a training wage for young adults, set at 85 percent of the minimum wage — noted that Pennsylvania has a lower minimum wage and lower taxes than New Jersey. Such factors would drive businesses to relocate out of state, he said.

Assembly Republican whip Scott Rumana, who took part in the news conference, said increasing minimum wage would hurt not only businesses, but current employees who might lose their jobs as a result of their employers’ increased expenses.

Scott Rumana

“The model does not work here in the highest-taxed state and a very high cost state,” Rumana said. “To actually drive up more of the cost will actually impact the middle class, the working families of New Jersey, very, very radically.”

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Bramnick calls out Democrats electoral engineering

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick commented today on the return of a proposed constitutional amendment (SCR107/ACR93) that would change the way New Jersey apportions districts.

“If the Democratic majority truly wants competitive districts, they should let League of Women Voters decide legislative district lines,” said Bramnick (R-Union). “The league is a neutral third party.”

The amendment was originally proposed during last session in December and was not brought up for a vote after Republican and press criticism.

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Democratic leaders push Legislature into gridlock on A.C.

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick commented on the negotiation breakdown between the two Democratic sides in the debate over a state takeover of Atlantic City.

Jon Bramnick

“Backroom Democratic deal-making just is not working,” said Bramnick. “They have been trying at this for weeks with no vote on a bill to save Atlantic City. The only way we can break through this stalemate is to get all the legislative leaders to sit down and work together to find a solution.”

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Bramnick on ‘richest man’s’ departure: ‘How can you blame him?’

Source: Excerpt from the New York Times -

Our top-heavy economy has come to this: One man can move out of New Jersey and put the entire state budget at risk.

Other states are facing similar situations as a greater share of income — and tax revenue — becomes concentrated in the hands of a few.

Last month, during a routine review of New Jersey’s finances, one could sense the alarm. The state’s wealthiest resident had reportedly “shifted his personal and business domicile to another state,” Frank W. Haines III, New Jersey’s legislative budget and finance officer, told a state Senate committee. If the news were true, New Jersey would lose so much in tax revenue that “we may be facing an unusual degree of income tax forecast risk,” Haines said.

The New Jersey resident (unnamed by Haines) is hedge-fund billionaire David Tepper.

In December, Tepper declared himself a resident of Florida after living for more than 20 years in New Jersey. He later moved the official headquarters of his hedge fund, Appaloosa Management, to Miami. … Florida has no income tax.

New Jersey won’t say exactly how much Tepper paid in taxes. According to Institutional Investor’s Alpha, he earned more than $6 billion from 2012 to 2015. Tax experts say his move to Florida could cost New Jersey — which has a top tax rate of 8.97 percent — hundreds of millions of dollars in lost payments.

Jon Bramnick

“If you’re making hundreds of millions of dollars and you’re paying close to 10 percent to the state of New Jersey, you do the math,” said Jon Bramnick, the Republican leader in the New Jersey Assembly. “You can save millions a year by moving to Florida. How can you blame him?”

Beyond the debate on taxing the rich, Tepper’s move is a case study in how tax collections are affected when income becomes very highly concentrated. With the top tenth of 1 percent of the population reaping the largest income gains, states with the highest tax rates on the rich are growing increasingly dependent on a smaller group of superearners for tax revenue.

In New York, California, Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey, the top 1 percent pay a third or more of total income taxes. Now a handful of billionaires or even a single individual like Tepper can have a noticeable impact on state revenues and budgets.

California had to account for a “Facebook effect” in 2012 and 2013 after that company’s 2012 initial public offering of stock. The offering generated more than $1 billion in revenue — much of that from the chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, and a small group of company shareholders.

Washington, D.C., had an unexpected $50 million gain in its fiscal 2012 — which helped create a budget surplus — after the death of a local billionaire increased its estate tax receipts.

Some academic research shows high taxes are chasing the rich to lower-tax states, and anecdotes of tax-fleeing billionaires abound. Other studies say there is little evidence showing the rich move solely for tax purposes. Millionaires and billionaires who move from the high-tax states in the Northeast to Florida, for instance, may be drawn by the sunshine, lifestyle and retirement culture, in addition to lower taxes.

Tepper regularly topped state wealth rankings as New Jersey’s richest resident. He also has homes in Miami Beach and the Hamptons. In 2012 and 2013, he also topped Alpha’s list of the highest-earning hedge fund managers, with estimated earnings of $2.2 billion in 2012 and $3.5 billion in 2013. His earnings fell to $400 million in 2014.

Tepper never publicly announced his move to Florida. It became public April 5, when Haines, citing a Bloomberg report, mentioned Tepper’s move in his remarks to the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. In discussing the move, Haines said, “Even a 1 percent forecasting error in the income tax estimate is worth $140 million.”

Tepper’s payments may have even been higher. If Tepper earned $3.5 billion in 2013, his state tax bill could have been more than $300 million, according to New Jersey accountants. Granted, his actual payments were probably far lower because of deferred income, charitable deductions and other accounting treatments. Yet Haines’ comments are believed to be the first time a state official has warned of a budget risk because of one resident’s relocation.

 

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Bramnick says there’s a crisis in A.C. and council members should accept proposed salary cuts

Source: Excerpt from NJ.com -

So much for that idea.

Atlantic City council President Marty Small said the council won’t consider a proposal for the mayor, council members and other city officials to take a 20 percent pay cut as state and local leaders grapple with how to save the Jersey Shore gambling resort from bankruptcy.

On Tuesday, Councilman Kaleem Shabazz said he would introduce the resolution to make that reduction to Mayor Don Guardian’s $103,000 salary and the $28,000 salaries of the city’s nine council members. Shabazz told the Associated Press the cuts would be largely symbolic, showing local leaders can make “some sacrifices ourselves” at a time when the city is close to running out of money and fighting a possible state takeover.

But Small said council members were “caught off guard” by the proposal and noted the cuts would do very little to help reduce the city’s $100 million budget deficit and more than $550 million debt.

Small said, he has never seen a salary increase since he joined the council in 2004, and that the last time council members got a raise was before 2000.

Jon Bramnick

State Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick on Wednesday called on the council to pass the proposal.

“They should cut their salaries,” Bramnick (R-Union) said in a statement. “In a time of fiscal crisis, top leaders need to take some responsibility before expecting state taxpayers to make sacrifices to help.”

Guardian’s office said Tuesday that the mayor’s salary was already reduced $40,000 from the $143,000 that his predecessor, Lorenzo Langford, made.

Atlantic City has been hit by the closure of four of its 12 casinos in recent years, causing its taxbase to be cut by more than 70 percent. The city is expected to run out of money within weeks, and experts say the credit ratings of municipalities across the state could fall if the city defaults on its debt or goes bankrupt.

Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) say they will provide aid only if the state is allowed to take over large parts of the city government for five years. Christie and Sweeney say that’s needed because city leaders have shown they are unable to curtail lavish spending.

But local officials said the takeover goes too far, and Guardian has noted the city has cut $25 million in spending. While the state Senate has passed the takeover, state Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) says he is against it and has introduced his own plan to give the city more time to fix its problems.

Sweeney and Prieto met last week to discuss a possible compromise, but so far none has materialized.

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Bramnick calls on AC Council to cut its salaries while facing bankruptcy

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick commented on the Atlantic City Council’s decision not to consider a fellow councilman’s proposal for cutting salaries of top officials by 20 percent while facing bankruptcy.

“They should cut their salaries,” said Bramnick (R-Union). “In a time of fiscal crisis, top leaders need to take some responsibility before expecting state taxpayers to make sacrifices to help.”

An Atlantic City councilman said Tuesday he will introduce a resolution next week to make reductions to the mayor’s salary and the salaries of the city’s nine council members.

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Bramnick, Webber weigh in on possible TTF solutions

Source: PolitickerNJ -

A group of tax cuts could clear the legislature’s path for funding the Transportation Trust Fund if both Republicans and Democrats take the deal being put forward by Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36). Governor Christie has said he will only consider raising New Jersey’s gas tax to fund the Trust Fund if Democrats offer concessions on “tax fairness” but making cuts to the estate tax. Though Sarlo’s bill has some bipartisan support and a Republican co-sponsor in Steven Oroho (R-24), the plan is drawing fire from the left and the right.

As Sarlo outlined the details of his own estate tax phase-out and called for the $1.2 billion TTF’s funding cap to be raised this week, Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto (D-32) said that he would only consider posting a bill doing away with those levies if they came as part of an explicit plan to fund the TTF and offered Christie’s successor the ability to change the pace of the phase-out if economic growth remains stagnant. The TTF could face insolvency as soon as July.

Sarlo and Oroho’s bill joins other Democratic bills to raise the threshold for taxes on retirement income and allow additional tax deductions for charitable contributions.

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21), who has expressed his willingness to negotiate for a gas tax in the past, invoked tax flight when he said the cuts would do too little if spread across Sarlo’s proposed five-year phase-out period.

“New Jersey cannot afford to wait to phase out the estate tax,” said Bramnick in a statement. “Every year we lose more retirees to tax friendly states.”

The Office of Legislative Services estimates that the phase out would cost the state $550 million a year. Bramnick argued the state could recoup that cost if residents choose to stay because of a more favorable tax structure.

“I suspect the state would do far better by more people staying in New Jersey because we made this change,” Bramnick continued. “That alone will help make up for the lost tax revenue.”

Jay Webber

Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) pointed to the cost of building and maintaining transportation infrastructure in New Jersey versus other, similarly populous states. Others like Senator Pete Doherty (R-23) have also argued that the solution to addressing aging roads and bridges lies more in cutting down costs than in raising the cap for the TTF.

“Under the NJDOT’s own numbers, New Jersey’s roads are the most expensive in the nation, an extreme outlier even among our neighboring states,” Webber said in a statement. “Any solution to the Transportation Trust Fund must include real and credible savings and efficiencies so that New Jersey’s taxpayers will know that their money is being spent wisely.”

Left-leaning advocacy groups New Jersey Policy Perspective and the New Jersey Sierra Club came down hard on the plan, with NJPP’s Gordon MacInnes saying there is “only one way to ensure ‘tax fairness’ in pushing forward a much-needed hike in fuel taxes to fund critical transportation investments: reduce taxes for the lowest-income New Jerseyans, who will feel the greatest impact of any gas tax increase.”

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