Category: Press Release

O’Scanlon: Minimum Wage Sounds Great, But Will Contribute To Devastating Budget Shortfalls [video]

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Declan O'Scanlon

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the Republican budget officer, testified in Trenton before the Senate Labor Committee on a bill (S15) sponsored by Sens. Sweeney and Vitale that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, and eventually to $15.

“The debate to date has focused on the potential impact of this policy on the destruction it may inflict on the entry level job market. Even non-partisan supporters of the previous minimum wage hike have serious reservations that we may be going too far, too fast. Many employers have told us that the increase will kill entry level job creation. That debate will rage on. But ignored so far in all maelstrom is any talk of the staggering impact this move will have in the already over-stressed New Jersey state budget. At a budget hearing last month, we heard testimony from ARC and the community of mental healthcare providers. These are people sympathetic to an increase in wages for healthcare workers who are making $10 an hour and haven’t had a raise in years. But together, they estimated a fully phased in minimum wage of $15 would have a shocking $250 million effect on their budgets. If the State isn’t picking up that tab then they have no idea how to plug the hole.

“Between fully phasing in our public employee pension payments, transportation funding, and a host of other things, within five or six years, we’re looking at a $7 to $8 billion budget problem. The pension and health benefits and some debt increases alone will absorb all of the state’s natural revenue growth. Without simultaneously advocating for serious reforms and dealing with our over-all budget situation no one has any business advocating for huge increases in spending – which translates to huge increases in taxes.

“I have asked the supporters of this bill: ‘What’s the impact going to be on our state budget?’ Stunningly, no one has been able to give me that answer. I don’t care how noble or justified the cause may be – taxpayers need us to be the adults in the room. We need to be straight with taxpayers, and with each other. There is no money hidden in a vault in the statehouse. Every dollar of extra cost is a dollar less for another worthy cause – or a dollar out of taxpayers’ pockets. If we go through with this, and the other huge commitments Democrats are advocating – without serious reforms – we are heading for a fiscal cliff of epic proportions. The only recourse will be enormous, unprecedented tax increases that will be devastating to all taxpayers – but will likely hit hardest at the very people this bill intends to help.”

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Bucco: Minimum wage hike will hurt N.J.’s most vulnerable

Press Release – Deputy Republican Leader Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco, a Republican member of the Assembly Budget Committee, voiced concerns over the impact that the Democrat’s proposed increase in the minimum wage will have on nonprofit organizations contracting with the state to provide services to our most vulnerable residents.

Anthony M. Bucco

“Aside from the obvious economic impact, raising the minimum wage will devastate nonprofits’ ability to provide valuable services to our most vulnerable citizens,” said Bucco. “Either we will have to come up with significantly more funding in the state budget, which we do not have, or these organizations will need to make significant cut backs. The end result will be a loss of service to those that need it most.”

Bucco referred to the testimony received by the Assembly Budget Committee at its public hearing in Montclair on March 9. Tracy Mendola, executive director of Community Options Inc., which helps people with disabilities, testified that raising the minimum wage nationally would cost her organization $250 million for all of its direct support professionals.

“This will affect many organizations like the ARC of New Jersey and treatment centers for drug and alcohol abuse,” concluded Bucco.

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Webber to Host Google Hangout on June 2nd

Press Release – Assemblyman Jay Webber will host his first Google Hangout on Thursday, June 2nd, from 12:00pm to 1:00pm, where constituents will have the opportunity to video chat with him to ask questions and share their views about state policies or anything else on their minds — all from the convenience of their own computers or mobile devices.

Jay Webber

Google Hangouts is a free communications service that allows people to “hangout” in group video chats. All that is needed to participate is a computer or mobile device, a Gmail account, a microphone, and a webcam.

“A great part of my public service in the Assembly is meeting constituents, hearing their stories, taking their questions, and figuring out together how to improve our quality of life here in the Garden State,” stated Assemblyman Webber. “Google Hangouts and other technologies can bring us together in new ways with just a few convenient clicks. I look forward to ‘hanging out’ on June 2nd and invite everyone to join in.”

The link used to join Assemblyman Webber’s Google Hangout will be posted on the Assemblyman’s Facebook page (facebook.com/JayWebberNJ) and Twitter feed (@JayWebberNJ) an hour before the beginning of the Hangout. Individuals then can simply click on the link and will be prompted to join the Hangout. Follow Assemblyman Webber on Facebook and Twitter for reminders and updates on his Google Hangout and for the link.

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Dancer bill helps veterans groups locate and identify unclaimed remains of NJ vets

Press Release – In advance of Memorial Day, Assemblyman Ron Dancer has introduced legislation (A3740) that will help veterans organizations locate and identify the unclaimed cremains of veterans in an effort to give them a military burial with honor and respect.

“Sadly, many have been abandoned by their families or have no living relatives and their remains are stored on mortuary shelves, in hospitals and other storage facilities,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “A military burial is one of the ways we show our gratitude to the men and women who have faithfully served our nation.

Ron Dancer

“Volunteers of veterans organizations spend an inordinate amount of time trying to locate cremains,” continued Dancer. “Creating an online centralized reporting system will be a tremendous help to veterans groups in their efforts to locate and identify them.”

The bill requires the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) to provide a central website registry of unclaimed veteran cremations for veteran organization locating services.

According to veterans organizations, veteran cremains have been abandoned 28 years on average, with some as long as 50 and 66 years. Funeral directors are tasked with identifying, locating and notifying relatives or friends, but sometimes the remains go unclaimed.

A 2009 state law allowed funeral directors to give veteran groups and veteran service organizations any cremains that have been unclaimed for one year or more. Following passage of the law, New Jersey’s Mission of Honor for Cremains of American Veterans was created to identify, retrieve and inter the remains of veterans forgotten in New Jersey funeral homes. As a result, more than 250 families have been reunited with their deceased family members and 197 vets have been interred in Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown.

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NJPP report ignores estate tax effect on local farmers and small business owners, says Bucco

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco responded to a Wednesday article by New Jersey Policy Perspective that was critical of eliminating the state’s estate tax, saying it helps the state’s economy.

Anthony M. Bucco

“The estate tax does more than just drive wealthy taxpayers out of the state,” said Bucco (R-Morris).

Responding to a question from Bucco at a recent budget hearing, state Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher said reforming the estate and inheritance tax could help protect active farms. “So just like small business, and small and larger agriculture business, it’s critical,” Fisher responded. “It’s of major consequence and would be extraordinarily helpful to the farming community.”

According to the Office of Legislative Services, $28 million in estate tax revenue comes from people with estates worth less than one-million dollars – over nine percent. New Jersey Policy Perspective claims the tax is paid by just four percent of estates per year. That number is based on the percentage of the state’s total population with average home values above the $675,000 threshold, not all of the estates subject to the tax.

“Reforming or eliminating the estate tax has bipartisan support,” said Bucco. “When someone says that it only affects wealthy residents, I respectfully disagree. They are ignoring a whole segment of our population.”

A recent Office of Legislative Services report found that there are three primary demographic groups displaying a net domestic outmigration from New Jersey: those younger than 45 years of age making less than $10,000; those younger than age 45 making between $10,000 and $25,000; and those older than 45 years of age making more than $200,000.

“The estate tax represents one of the most harmful taxes on New Jersey’s economy,” said Bucco. “Two million residents and $18 billion of income have moved out over the past decade, costing the state 75,000 jobs.

“Rather than focusing on the revenue the tax brings in on the backs of many small business owners and farmers, the group should be thinking about the far greater economic loss to the State and the revenue that goes with it,” continued Bucco. “The facts are more than credible, they are obvious.”

Bucco sponsors multiple bills reforming the estate tax, including one that increases the filing threshold to $5 million over five years (A1236) and another phasing-out the estate tax after five years of threshold increases (A3562). New Jersey’s filing threshold is $675,000, compared to the national estate tax filing threshold of $5.43 million.

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Webber Bill Protecting Seniors and Disabled from Predatory Criminals Approved by Panel

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assemblyman Jay Webber sponsors legislation that was approved today by the Law and Public Safety Committee. The bill would protect senior and disabled citizens from being targeted by criminals by making it easier to prosecute suspects for preying on the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of their victims, and increases the penalties for convictions.

Jay Webber

“Our society’s most trusting and helpless people are too often crime victims at the hands of opportunistic criminals who seek an easy payday,” said Webber (R—Morris). “This bill beefs up protections for our most vulnerable with stronger laws, more appropriate criminal charges, and increased penalties.’”

The bill establishes a gradation of criminal offenses, ranging from a disorderly persons offense to a crime of the second degree, for acts committed against a person 60 years of age or older, a disabled adult, or a person who is unable to care for himself because of mental disease or defect.

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Bramnick: The TSA should not be blaming travelers for their poor performance

Press Release – Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick responded today to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration blaming a lack of passenger pre-check enrollment as a reason for long security lines at Newark airport.

Jon Bramnick

“That is a lot like blaming the victim,” said Bramnick (R-Union). “From what I have witnessed, it is the TSA that is making a mess of things. I watched agents screaming at the traveling public, which actually is more troubling to me than the lines.”

In a May 4 letter to the TSA, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it is exploring the idea of discontinuing service with the TSA in favor of a private security screening company.
“Given the adverse customer service and economic impacts, we can no longer tolerate the continuing inadequacy of TSA passenger screening services,” Port Authority officials wrote.

Twenty-two airports across the nation use private screening companies, including some major airports like San Francisco International Airport and Kansas City International Airport.

In April, Bramnick called upon the TSA to immediately reduce the long security lines causing many travelers to miss their flights at Newark Liberty Airport after observing passengers wait 60 minutes or longer in lines through security.

“This cannot stand,” Bramnick said at the time. “The TSA must act immediately and treat the traveling public with more respect.”

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Rible bill to prohibit release of police addresses clears committee

Press Release – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Dave Rible that prohibits government agencies from releasing the home addresses of police officers was approved today by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

“Police officers are prime targets for aggrieved individuals they may have encountered while performing their duties or someone who simply has a vendetta against police,” said Rible (R-Monmouth). “This bill will help protect police officers from individuals who may want to harass them or even harm them or their families.”

Dave Rible

Under the measure (A1329), the home address of a law enforcement officer would be excluded from the definition of a “government record” and could not be released to the public. It also requires the home addresses of police officers to be redacted in other government records that are released.

Rible, a former police officer, noted that public disclosure requirements are preventing current and retired police officers from serving their communities on boards and commissions.

“I have heard from a number of police officers that want to serve their community, but choose not to because their home address will be made public,” said Rible, who serves as the Assembly Republican Conference Leader. “In the current climate, police officers are understandably concerned that their homes could be targeted by disgruntled individuals.

“This measure will help keep this information from falling into the wrong hands and adds an extra layer of protection for the men and women in the law enforcement community.”

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick is also a prime sponsor of the legislation

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Panel Approves Bucco Bill Protecting Identity of Violent Crime Victims

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco to protect the identities of violent crime victims and witnesses cleared the Law and Public Safety Committee today. The bill (A3626) prohibits the release of identifying personal information in response to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request.

Anthony M. Bucco

“Violent crime can have a life-long impact on the victims, and on the witnesses of such acts as well,” said Bucco (R—Morris). “This bill Protects their identities and shields them from the fear of additional physical or verbal harm. Protecting the privacy and safety of the victims, now and in the future, should be a paramount concern of the State”

The name, address and age of any victim of crime is public record under current law. Bucco’s bill clarifies the law so all personal information of violent crime victims and witnesses are kept confidential.

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Panel advances Rible’s ‘Blue Alert System’ bill

Press Release – Legislation Assemblyman David Rible sponsors to help apprehend individuals who have killed or seriously injured law enforcement officers was approved today by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. The bill (A2674) establishes an emergency “Blue Alert System” that allows the media to quickly disseminate information to the public when a police officer is missing, killed or seriously hurt in an effort to capture the suspect.

Dave Rible

“Law enforcement can use as many ‘eyes’ as possible in helping track down these suspects,” said Rible (R-Monmouth). “With news today being instantaneous via Twitter, Facebook and other social media, there’s no reason not to use these tools to alert the public in the hope someone may come forward with information that leads to an arrest.

“We ask for the public’s help by issuing Amber alerts for abducted children and Silver alerts for missing seniors with success,” Rible continued. “With the number of police officers being murdered or shot on the rise, it’s only common sense that we implement Blue alerts for cop killers.”

The bill calls for a voluntary, cooperative effort between state and local law enforcement agencies and the media. It requires the state attorney general to notify the media that a Blue Alert system has been established and invite their voluntary participation. The alerts will inform the public, who has information relating to the missing officer or suspect, how to contact the lead law enforcement agency.

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