Category: Clips

Ciattarelli: There’s fair path out of pension hole [op-ed]

Source: Daily Record [Op-Ed by Jack Ciattarelli] -

Jack Ciattarelli

For decades, Trenton politicians in both parties have shied away from providing real long-term solutions. We can’t afford to wait any longer.

Why are pension systems for municipal and county employees, as well as the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, all solvent? Because these systems are funded by property taxes that, while too high, are a very stable funding source.

The teachers’ pension is funded by the state, making teachers the exception— they’re the only local public employee whose pension is not funded by property taxes. There’s a fundamental problem with this. State taxes on income, sales, corporate profits and casino revenues — the state’s primary sources of revenue — are all highly volatile. Case in point, during the recession, state tax revenues plummeted $6 billion in 24 months’ time.

When state revenues plummet or don’t grow, choices are made. For nearly 30 years, New Jersey chose not to repeatedly shut down government; not to stop funding schools, hospitals, or healthcare for the poor; and not to stop supporting 26,000-plus disabled citizens. Administrations and legislatures past and present also chose to not make adequate pension payments. Worse yet, they chose not to address the underlying pension problem.

Many say ‘just make the pension payment,’ but that’s not realistic, and the state Supreme Court agrees. Indeed, in its recent decision, the court said it has no constitutional power to order payment of state expenses. The court also said the state can’t pay with what it doesn’t have.

A comprehensive reform plan that we can honor and afford — one that solves the teachers’ pension problem once and for all — is desperately needed.

We need a plan that provides the financial flexibility to permanently add at least another $1.5 to $2 billion to the current annual pension payment. That kind of annual payment would make the teachers’ pension system solvent over the long-term.

Here’s a plan:

  • No community is allowed to fund less than 25 percent of their school budget through the local tax levy (some communities fund less than 15 percent of their school budget, while others fund more than 90 percent);
  • No community whose local school budget is funded more than 50 percent by federal and state aid can abate school property taxes on new development;
  • For all current and future teacher retirees, no post-retirement Medicare Part B reimbursement if their pension plus Social Security equals or exceeds $30,000 per year;
  • For all teachers with less than 10 years in system, pension account is switched over to cash balance defined contribution pension plan (e.g., 401k);
  • All newly hired teachers go immediately into cash balance defined contribution pension plan (e.g., 401k) and their pension and Social Security are paid for by the local school district, not the state;
  • “Cadillac” health insurance plans are discontinued for all newly hired teachers and all others at end of current contract

The personnel-specific reforms would apply to all non-teacher school district employees, as well as all municipal, county and state workers too.

The timing is perfect for the “cost shift” aspects of this plan. First, Baby Boomers will generate a tsunami of retirements in the next 10 years — teachers in higher salary ranges will be replaced by new hires in lower salary ranges. Second, the Affordable Care Act’s 2018 40 percent excise tax on “Cadillac Plans” provides strong incentive for significant health insurance savings.

Without exacerbating the property tax crisis and making any one group bear the entire burden of the crisis, this plan fully funds teachers’ pensions in an equitable way. Just as importantly, this plan demonstrates a willingness to truly address and resolve the teachers’ pension system.

In addition, there is discussion taking place on casinos outside Atlantic City. If these casinos materialize in places like Newark and/or Jersey City, the usual tax on casino revenues should not be collected by the state, but by the host city to support the local school system. This would free up another $500 million to $1 billion of state revenues to make the teachers’ underfunded pension systems solvent.

John F. Kennedy once said, “What man has created, man can solve.” What we’ve created in New Jersey, we need to solve, and soon. All we need is a plan.

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, represents the 16th Legislative District.

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Bramnick bringing wildlife habitats closer to home in NJ

Source: NJ 101.5 -

New Jersey’s top Republican Assembly leader is encouraging all Garden State homeowners to consider creating a wildlife habitat on part of their property.

Jon Bramnick

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) said in suburbia almost everyone just has a lawn, but it would be great to “put in indigenous or native species, for example those type of plants that attract wildlife, attract the birds, and is good for the environment.”

At the same time, he said he has proposed legislation that would also keep homeowners from getting fined for certain plantings.

“(The legislation would) protect you from let’s say a code enforcement official who thinks,  ‘oh those are just weeds,’ and you’d be certified. Lawns are terrific but they use a lot of water, indigenous species don’t. “It also provides clean air, and there’s nothing wrong with helping birds or bees whatsoever, they’re good for suburbia.”

The legislation would establish a private wildlife habitat certification program that would be overseen by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.

Bramnick said he got the idea from his wife, Pat Brentano, an environmental artist.

“I learned from her and from the Audubon Society that this is not a bad idea, I’ve seen this on golf courses, I’ve seen this in corporate areas where they’ve taken a small portion of their land and done the same thing,” he said. “Once people read about it and hear about they’ll think it’s probably a pretty good idea for the earth.”

The measure was passed unanimously in the Assembly, and it awaits action in the Upper House.


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Rodriguez-Gregg bill clears Senate, paving way for Dave & Buster’s-type venues

Source: Burlington County Times -

New Jersey senators returned to the Statehouse for a rare summer voting session Thursday during which they voted to approve a bill to assist veterans with medical-related travel expenses, as well as a closely-watched bill to permit certain businesses to serve booze and operate amusement games.

The latter measure was written to allow Dave & Buster’s or similar restaurants and entertainment venues to operate in New Jersey.

A 1959 law prohibits businesses from holding both a liquor license and a license to operate amusement games. It effectively has prevented Dave & Buster’s from opening any venues in the state.

The restaurant chain has venues in 29 states, plus Toronto, Canada, and lawmakers said they have expressed interest in opening sites in multiple locations in New Jersey.

The bill proposes an amendment to the 1959 law to allow liquor-license holders to also hold amusement-game licenses, provided the establishment covers at least 20,000 square feet and includes at least 100 amusements games.

The bill was approved 71-5 in the Assembly last month, and the Senate on Thursday gave it final legislative approval, 27-6. It goes to Gov. Chris Christie for consideration.

Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego, R-8th of Evesham, and Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg, R-8th of Evesham, sponsored the bill in their respective chambers.

They said ending the ban could help create jobs and provide an economic boost.

“We’re finally leveling the playing field,” Addiego said in a joint statement with Rodriguez-Gregg. “Competing states have been enjoying a monopoly on this entertainment.”

Maria Rodriguez-Gregg

Maria Rodriguez-Gregg

Rodriguez-Gregg said permitting the specialty venues could assist Atlantic City and other towns.

“This has proven to be a profitable niche in other states, and it can help energize New Jersey’s economy,” she said.

The veterans travel bill would require the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to create a program to reimburse qualified veterans for their travel costs to medical counseling appointments for service-connected conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or substance abuse.

The bill originally was written to mandate that NJ Transit provide free bus or train passage, but was amended last month to require the transit agency to provide proof of travel to vets so they can obtain reimbursement from the state.

Sen. Diane Allen, a primary sponsor, said the bill was intended to remove an obstacle some veterans face when trying to receive treatment they need.


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Under Rumana bill NJ Colleges Might Have To Disclose Data About On-Campus Suicides

Source: Huffington Post -

New Jersey may soon require colleges and universities in the state to disclose how many of their students have committed or attempted to commit suicide.

Two new bills cleared the state Senate Higher Education Committee last week, and will now proceed to the full New Jersey Senate for further consideration.

Scott Rumana


“If, through these efforts, we can save a life or help someone who is struggling, then we have done our jobs and helped create a positive legacy in honor of Madison Holleran.” – Assembly Republican Whip Scott Rumana


The Madison Holleran Suicide Prevention Act (S-2808) would demand that colleges make “individuals with training and experience in mental health issues” available to students around the clock. The Proper Reporting Act (S-2809) would require schools to disclose information about the number of attempted and completed suicides on campus. Both bills are sponsored by state Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R).

The language in S-2808 calls for students to be able to visit or speak remotely to trained individuals at any time. The individuals would “focus on reducing student suicides and attempted suicides.” A separate version of the bill, filed in the state Assembly, calls for “licensed health care professionals” to be available to students. The Senate version strikes this language and simply calls for “individuals.”

If passed, the law would take effect at the start of the 2016-2017 school year, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The legislation was originally introduced by Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R). Rumana said he was touched by the story of Madison Holleran, a University of Pennsylvania freshman who died by suicide in January 2014. Holleran was a native of New Jersey.

UPenn was criticized following Holleran’s death for only disclosing some — not all — of the student suicides that had happened that year. There have been seven suicides at UPenn in the past two years, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

“If, through these efforts, we can save a life or help someone who is struggling, then we have done our jobs and helped create a positive legacy in honor of Madison Holleran,” Rumana wrote in an email to HuffPost.


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Casagrande: State should create domestic violence courts

Source: Asbury Park Press [Op-Ed by Caroline Casagrande] -

Caroline Casagrande

Two recent tragic cases of domestic violence in Monmouth County should serve as reminders that such brutal acts occur everywhere. No community is immune. In Middletown, a mother of two was murdered by her husband when beaten to death with a frying pan.

In Neptune, a mother of nine was gunned down by her ex- husband in front of one of their children. Sadly, there are many more similar stories that go untold.

A Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief indicates that a domestic violence victim is abused 35 times before actually calling the police. It’s difficult to comprehend the pain and misery an individual and family endure before finally finding the courage to call for help.

Much can be learned by looking at how other jurisdictions have dealt with domestic violence in a more comprehensive way. In Sacramento, Calif. the district attorney’s domestic violence unit is located within the Domestic Violence Home Court. The unit is comprised of a team of attorneys, victim advocates, investigators and support staff who are all involved in the prosecution of domestic violence cases.

Also in California, Orange County domestic violence courts have a comprehensive treatment program for victims, their abusers and children. The program is a successful partnership developed with superior court, county probation, social services, local battered women’s shelters, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the county’s Health Care Agency. This gives victims easier access to whatever help they need.

In Washington, D.C., the courts have a domestic violence unit that specifically handles cases involving restraining orders. Unit judges also hear cases alleging violations of those orders and all misdemeanor criminal cases involving families. Its Superior Court also hosts domestic violence intake centers that provide a single access point for victims.

While high-profile cases like that of former NFL player Ray Rice shine the national spotlight on the issue, here in New Jersey there is much we need to do to further protect victims and their families.

Last year, the Assembly Women and Children Committee heard testimony from individuals on the front lines of this issue that the Ray Rice case wasn’t rare. Even though common sense dictates that knocking someone unconscious is an attempt to cause serious bodily injury, these charges are frequently downgraded. Reducing charges that allow a violent act to go unpunished trivializes the seriousness of this crime.

The committee also learned that the majority of domestic violence cases, which numbers about 32,000 annually in New Jersey, currently go through municipal courts. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for a victim of domestic violence to sit alongside individuals waiting to see the judge for a traffic offense. The terrified victim could also be waiting with her angry abuser with little, if any, protection. The case is then heard by a judge, who may have only 90 minutes of training in handling domestic violence cases. As a result, 80 percent of cases referred to municipal court are dismissed.

To help combat this issue, I have introduced legislation, A-3801, which creates a three-year domestic violence court pilot program in Monmouth and Camden counties. Any case involving domestic violence could be referred to the domestic violence court. Judges assigned to this court will be required to have extensive knowledge and experience in criminal law, procedure and sentencing.

Two other measures include A-3802, which calls for a mandatory three-year prison term for domestic violence assault, and A-3803, which establishes a minimum level of domestic violence training for judges and judicial personnel. It directs the Administrative Office of the Courts to develop and approve a training course and a curriculum consisting of at least three hours. This will ensure that judges and judicial personnel at all levels will receive this vital training.

There is strong bipartisan support for the idea of domestic violence courts. Sens. Stephen Sweeney, Loretta Weinberg, and the Assembly chairwoman of Women and Children are all sponsors of this legislation. This issue is too important to delay any longer. The Legislature should not wait for another life lost before we fix a broken system.

Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, is an assemblywoman representing the 11th legislative district.

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Chris A. Brown questions timing of Dems’ bill removing restrictions from Showboat

Atlantic City Press -

Two Atlantic County Democratic state legislators have introduced a bill that would eliminate the deed restrictions on the Showboat property in Atlantic City and make it easier for Stockton University to sell the site.

But even if supported by the Legislature and Gov. Chris Christie, it would likely take at least until the end of year to become law since the Assembly is out of session until after the November election.

Chris A. Brown

Atlantic County Republican Assemblyman Chris Brown questioned the timing and motive of the new bill, which he called a watered-down version of a bill he introduced a year ago prohibiting deed restrictions on Atlantic City casino properties.

The new bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Whelan and Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, both D-Atlantic, would void deed restrictions on publicly owned or leased land in the Atlantic City Tourism District. It would apply only to Showboat and not to other privately owned casino sites which also have deed restrictions. However the removal of the deed restrictions would also remain in effect for anyone who bought Showboat from Stockton.

Stockton president Herman Saatkamp bought Showboat for $18 million from Caesars Entertainment in December believing that a covenant requiring the site be used as a casino would be released. The college planned to convert the site into an Island Campus and privately run hotel. However Trump Taj Mahal, a partner in the covenant, refused to release it.

Caesars also put a second conflicting deed restriction on the site in 2014 that prohibits it from being used as a casino for 10 years. Developer Glenn Straub had an agreement to buy Showboat for $26 million from Stockton, but now says he expected the college to resolve the covenant issue and wants to extend the sales contract, which expired July 2. A court hearing is scheduled for August.
Meanwhile, Stockton is spending about $400,000 a month for utilities, insurance and security to operate Showboat.

Brown said Monday that no one contacted him about the new bill, and if Whelan and Mazzeo had helped push his deed restriction bill a year ago, they could have prevented the Showboat situation from happening at all. Mazzeo was a co-sponsor of that bill, but it never came before committee to be reviewed.

“For a year, Assemblyman Mazzeo refused to move the bi-partisan bill I introduced to remove deed restrictions, and now says he plans to introduce his own watered-down, duplicative version of the bill, knowing his version won’t even be voted upon until after the election in November,” Brown said. “Stockton would already have its Island campus if Mazzeo truly cared about the issue and worked with me a year ago when I reached across the aisle and invited him to join me to eliminate deed restrictions.”

Asked why the new bill was not introduced earlier, while the Assembly was still in session, Mazzeo said they have been focused on the PILOT legislation involving Atlantic City’s fiscal crisis.
He said if the Senate supports the bill, it would still send a message. Whelan chairs the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee and the bill is scheduled to be reviewed by the committee on Thursday.

While Whelan has expressed concern about the growing use of deed restrictions, he has not supported outright banning them, which Brown’s bill would have done.

Saatkamp announced his resignation in April and is on medical leave. Stockton’s acting president Harvey Kesselman said he is grateful that legislators are addressing the issue. He said the university is also still doing all it can do to try to resolve the restrictions. Kesselman said he cannot be in Trenton on Thursday, but expects someone will represent Stockton at the hearing.

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DiMaio: N.J. should curb appetite for spending and make pension funding a priority

Hunterdon County Democrat – op-ed by John DiMaio

John DiMaio

New Jersey is hungry for new solutions and real reform that will solve our pension crisis. Instead of cutting out the carbs in our budget, Democrats insist that we should add some more candy, more spending and more taxes.

The counties and municipalities have for the large part always funded their responsibilities; that’s probably why the police and fire departments are so well funded, because most of that funding comes from local and not state government.

This to me is not an issue of do we want to fund the pension. I would love to find a way to make up for the 15 years that we did not fund it. But we don’t have that rabbit to pull out of a hat.

The governor has signed another responsible state budget without raising taxes. However, the underfunded pension system is an issue that requires bipartisan attention from the Legislature to prevent bigger problems in the future.

The Democrats appetite for more spending has led to empty promises to fund the pension. In fact, in the last five years the current administration has put more money into the pension system than the last three Democrat governors combined. The FY16 budget signed by Gov. Christie dedicates $1.3 billion ­ the largest pension payment in state history to the under-funded pension system.

Democrats had their chance to fund the pension and the soon-to-be bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund. Between 2002 and 2008, the Democrat led legislature and governors increased spending by$10.5 billion, to $33.5 billion from $23 billion. Very little of which went into an obviously deteriorating pension system, but they had the chance.

I and my Republican colleagues stand with the hard working families who have earned their pension and I am dedicated to protecting them. Funding the pension systems, abandoned by Democrat administrations for more than a decade, is imperative.

In past years Democrats have relied on what they do best, increase spending and raise your taxes to the tune of 115 times. The tax drum has been beat and New Jersey’s budget diet doesn’t need to add more spending; we need to cut it out.

In the closing weeks of the fiscal year, with the Legislature’s attention focused on the budget and the pension funding challenge, the Democrats managed to rush almost 50 new, recurring spending bills through the Assembly Appropriations Committee; despite Assembly rules limiting Appropriations to 12 bills in a single committee day.

Conservatively, these bills, if enacted, would cost New Jersey taxpayers more than $50 million. In fact, a single piece of legislation has a potential fiscal impact of $300 million. Now is not the time to add spending for any causes when we have commitments to uphold.

It’s time for the Legislature to give pensions higher priority than spending bills. As a body, we must learn to restrain ourselves from adding recurring costs to every budget when we should be taking the money that we do build up over the year and using it to help fund the pensions.

Last week the Democrats presented their perceived pension solution: mandate the state to make the extra $1.3 billion contribution this month.

But since the state doesn’t have the money, New Jersey would have to borrow it. The treasurer couldn’t even get a rate on the loan from markets.

I listened to the treasurer explain to us that last year we borrowed short term 2.6 billion to bridge the revenue stream shortfall and this year he has that down to 1.9 billion. Then you add that 1.3 billion and we shackle New Jersey to unsustainable debt. The treasurer also indicated that more borrowing could force the state¹s bond rating down some more. It’s much better to wait until that revenue comes in and then we fund the pension.

It is irresponsibility like this that has led to the state’s credit downgrades, forcing taxpayers to pay even more for short-term gimmick solutions. This high-risk gamble in an unstable marketplace would spell disaster.

New Jersey’s public workers and tax payers deserve better. Responsible and sustainable spending cuts with a resolve to freeze all but the most crucial spending is the only way to balance our budget diet, not an appetite for more spending on the back for taxpayers.

A better path for New Jersey ­ a path to renewed prosperity and affordability ­ requires the Democrats to join the Republican caucus in a commitment to fiscal self-control.

Assemblyman John DiMaio (R-Warren, Hunterdon and Somerset) represents the 23rd Legislative District.

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O’Scanlon comments on red light cameras on New Jersey school buses

Declan O'Scanlon

NJ 101.5 -

At the end of last year, New Jersey’s red light camera pilot program was disbanded, but now legislators are considering a plan to bring the cameras back — and mount them on school buses.

The Garden State’s foremost anti-red light camera crusader thinks this is a horrible idea, because it would not really target drivers who blow by school buses that are stopped and have their red lights flashing.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Red Bank) said at first blush this might seem like a no-brainer, because everyone wants to protect their kids, “but we need to remember the only way that equipment can pay for itself is if they have dramatically high fines, and they go after people making simple but not hazardous mistakes.”

He said in some situations, like when a grass median separates a stopped school bus and a car, the driver of the car is required to be cautious but not necessarily stop, and is allowed to travel no more than 10 mph, only stopping when necessary.

“It is those people that would be targeted, even though they may use common sense, proceed with caution,” O’Scanlon said. “In that scenario, Redflex (a leading red light camera company) would target them because there’s room for confusion.”

O’Scanlon fears that red light camera companies will issue tickets by the thousands, for hundreds of dollars each, with points for certain technical, non-hazardous situations.

“We don’t need a profit-making company, whose goal isn’t safety, to get involved,” he said. “If we allow this, people will be slamming on their brakes, they’ll be coming to a stop, being rear-ended. It will not improve safety for our children. Once you invite a profit-making company into law enforcement, it is ripe for abuse.”

Legislation has been introduced to permit these cameras, but the measures have not advanced in the Assembly.

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Peterson: State needs special session on pension reform

Erik Peterson

Daily Record  (Op-ed by Erik Peterson) -

The time has come for New Jersey’s Legislature to stop volleying the blame of who created the perilous state of the public employee pension system. We need to get past the political theater of pandering sound bites and start a bipartisan process to develop and implement fiscally responsible solutions.

The $80 billion unfunded liability in the pension system will not be solved by borrowing money to make a $1.3 billion payment in July. The premise that the stock market will grow enough to cover the high cost of borrowing and generate additional revenue for the pension fund goes against fiscal common sense. The only real solution to our chronic pension problems is structural reform of the entire pension system.

Responsible pension reform cannot rely on gambler’s luck. Borrowing money to make a pension payment and investing it in the stock market will not earn more in profit than we must pay in interest. It is irresponsible and extremely risky public policy to gamble with taxpayer money. Short-term borrowing is not a long-term solution. This kind of political thinking is what led us to the pension Armageddon we now face.

Three times since March, I have called on the Speaker of the Assembly to convene a special session of the Legislature devoted to solving the pension crisis. This issue affects not only public workers, but taxpayers as well. We need to protect the current work force and those who will participate in the system for generations to come.

The first sign of both parties acknowledging the need to convene and have a frank discussion about the future of the pension program occurred at the Assembly’s last voting session on June 29. Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Gary Schaer said, “If indeed we are looking to pass over partisanship and make a united statement, and I would join with many of my colleagues, under the speaker’s direction, to meet and discuss at length these kinds of issues.”

Republicans accepted the invite to offer ideas on fundamental reforms to a pension system dangerously close to collapsing. Democrats should allow the Legislature to hold a special session and take a hard look at the budget to decide what can be cut to make up the revenue, because raising taxes isn’t a viable solution.

To tax their way out of the problem, Democrats would have to raise the sales tax to 10 percent or increase income taxes by 29 percent. Even the proposed millionaires’ tax would need to be supplemented with a $3,000 average tax increase on hard-working middle class families who already struggle under New Jersey’s crushing tax burden to make ends meet.

The only fiscally responsible way to solve the structural problems with the pension fund is to meet and hammer out solutions. Protecting the pensions of workers currently receiving benefits and those who anticipate a pension when their working days are over is a top priority. It is time to face a problem that has persisted far too long and fixing the problem requires facing the fact that sacrifices need to be made.

The ball is in our court. In order to remedy this problem, everyone must be part of the solution. That is a cold hard fact, but it is the truth.

A blueprint for fixing the pension crisis has been developed. The New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission issued its “Roadmap to Resolution” report in February and a joint memo from the commission and the New Jersey Education

Association (NJEA) also provided an outline for reform which was, originally, supported by NJEA leadership. At the very least the “Roadmap to Resolution” is a good starting point. All New Jerseyans, young and old, private and public sector and business alike have a vested interest in a fiscally responsible resolution to solve the pension crisis.

New Jersey’s long-term viability as a vibrant and economically dynamic state hangs in the balance and we have a starting point for discussions. Legislators should be ready to return to Trenton this summer and work together to find a final resolution to a daunting but not insurmountable pension issue.

We were elected to office to take our responsibilities seriously. The Legislature needs to return this summer to solve the pension crisis before it is too late. If leadership in the Legislature is unwilling to put the people of New Jersey first instead of politics, then it will be up to the people of New Jersey to wrest control of the Legislature back and put people in charge who will put citizens, not politics, first.

Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R–Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren) represents the 23rd Legislative District.

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Fiocchi urges EPA, Obama to abandon ethanol increase

Atlantic City Press -

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi, R-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, urged the Environmental Protection Agency and President Barack Obama on Thursday to abandon plans to increase ethanol levels in gasoline up to 15 percent.

In a letter sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Fiocchi raised both safety and economic concerns with the proposed ethanol increase.

Citing a recent Press article on boaters fighting the ethanol increase, Fiocchi wrote that it is “indisputable” that the current 10 percent mix has “damaged or destroyed outboard engines and motor boat fuel systems” and is “driving up repair cost on hardworking, middle-class boaters.”

Fiocchi wrote that raising the standard will only make the problem worse.

“No pun intended, but this move is akin to pouring gasoline on already raging fire,” he wrote. “My constituents can’t afford it.”

Fiocchi also said ethanol blends are causing warranties to be voided and have caused boaters to be stranded out on the water when the craft breaks down.

He added that ethanol gas breaking down over the winter months and to make it useless by spring could be an unintended consequence of the policy.

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