Category: Press Release

Fiocchi Bill Increases Buying Power for Small Utilities; Vineland City Electric Customers Could See Lower Rates

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi that promises lower energy costs in Vineland is moving through the State Legislature.

The bipartisan bill, A-2385 authorizes certain municipalities and a rural electric cooperative that currently provide electric service at retail to establish a municipal shared services energy association. Fiocchi, a member of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee, supported the measure as it cleared the panel last week.

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

“I am a strong proponent of shared services that improve efficiencies and reduce costs, but current rules prevent a handful of utilities, including Vineland City Electric, from capitalizing on this opportunity,” said Fiocchi, R-Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland. “This bill creates new opportunities for these utilities to join together as a cooperative. With this stronger presence in the competitive marketplace, the result could be significant energy savings for ratepayers.”

In addition to Vineland City Electric, the utilities impacted by the legislation include: Park Ridge Borough in Bergen County; Pemberton Borough in Burlington; Milltown and south River Boroughs in Middlesex; Butler and Madison boroughs in Morris; and Lavallette and Seaside Heights boroughs in Ocean. The Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative, providing power to Wantage, Frankford, Lafayette, Hardyston, Highland Lakes and Vernon in Sussex County, is also named in the bill.

“Many struggling families find New Jersey unaffordable, and we can lower the cost of running their lights with this basic change in the way we allow these utilities to conduct business. Sharing services is cost-effective, and with additional buying power, that means electric customers in Vineland will be able to hold on to more of their hard-earned money,” said Fiocchi.

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Schepisi Introduces Bill on Removing Officials from Office Upon Criminal Conviction

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Judge rules Trenton Mayor Tony Mack removed from office

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen and Passaic, said a convicted New Jersey public official should be required to leave office immediately once he or she is convicted of a federal or state crime. Currently, if a public official is convicted of a federal offense, their removal can only occur when a New Jersey court enters an order of forfeiture after an application is submitted by the county prosecutor or the Attorney General.

Holly Schepisi

“When a jury renders a guilty verdict, a public official should be removed from office,” said Schepisi. “The timeframe for imposing a federal sentence can be a prolonged process. Once an official is convicted, he or she has lost the public’s trust regardless of whether it is a federal or state crime. The public servant’s departure from office should be swift and immediate when found guilty.”

Schepisi’s has introduced a bill in response to this month’s earlier conviction of Trenton Mayor Tony Mack for federal bribery, fraud and extortion charges. Until today, Mack has refused to leave office. The state has been forced to go to court to have him removed. Mack, who is not an attorney, filed an argument with a state court on Monday, asking postponement of his removal until May, when he is scheduled to be sentenced after his conviction in federal court. If Mack were found guilty in state court, he would have been removed immediately.

Today, Judge Mary Jacobson ruled Mack is in violation of state law and can no longer hold office. Jacobson granted the request to remove Mack filed by the state Office of the Attorney General and said Mack is no longer able hold office effective immediately.

Under Schepisi’s bill, A-2720, state and local public officials and employees convicted under federal law of certain public corruption offenses would forfeit their office and employment immediately, without the need for an application by the prosecutor.

Schepisi’s legislation is also sponsored by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D- Mercer and Hunterdon) and Declan O’Scanlon, (R-Monmouth).

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Rible Op-Ed: Too many ‘tests’ are testing today’s students

Op-Ed Article – There was a time when kids were allowed, even encouraged, to be kids. They went to school, took the necessary exams to test subject knowledge, did homework, then joined their friends outdoors for a bike ride, a game of stick ball or a walk in the park.

However, as technology has boomed and society as a whole has evolved, life, in many ways, has become more complex for everyone, especially our children.

Dave Rible

The advent of the internet, including social media influences such as Facebook and Twitter, today poses challenges for our children and teens that were unheard of years ago.

Cyber bullying is a very real and too common problem, as is sexting. School shootings have students on edge. The prevalence of alcohol and new and easily accessible drugs – both legal and illegal – add to the stress of ‘fitting in.’ Playing sports, such as football, baseball and soccer are no longer leisure activities designed for fun, but have become extremely competitive.

These challenges, along with the pressure to perform well in school in order to get accepted into college or other advanced programs, are forcing our children to grow up ahead of their time. Stress levels among youth today are skyrocketing.

Add to that list, excessive testing, which today has taken on a life of its own.

It seems regular curriculum exams, such as math, history and science tests, and state-mandated standardized tests are no longer sufficient. In addition to these exams, which I support, students in many New Jersey school districts are subject to a plethora of other types of testing as well.

For example, a school district in the northern part of the state requires benchmark testing every six weeks in preparation for the state-mandated NJASK (New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge) exam for elementary students. Teachers use these benchmarks for their Student Growth Objectives (SGOs) while the administration uses them for their teacher evaluations.

The same school district also requires its teachers to administer the non-mandated NJ STAR Math and Language Arts assessments every 2 or 3 months. The district uses the test to assess student growth and to determine if students are average, above average or below average in a given subject area. Certainly such additional testing is not limited to that particular district.

Add to the mix the federal Common Core State Standards in Math and English Language Arts which the state Board of Education adopted in June 2010. That same year, New Jersey joined the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC), which will be ready for states to administer during the 2014-15 school year.
With these new standards, we could be looking at additional required testing.

It’s time to stop this “testing” madness and the burden it is placing on students. I have heard from several parents and educators who are becoming increasingly concerned about the amount of testing we are imposing on our school children. We need to ensure that we are not mandating so much testing that we are actually harming our students.

As a result, I will be introducing legislation that will prohibit the administration of tests other than assessments currently mandated by the state and federal government. Regular curriculum exams that test a student’s knowledge of a subject they are studying will not be affected. The intent is not to prevent teachers from teaching and evaluating a student’s growth.

On the contrary, the measure will allow teachers to spend more time teaching and preparing students for future success instead of teaching them how to take tests. Instead of arbitrarily administering non-mandated assessments, a board of education would be required to apply to the state commissioner of education to conduct any other additional assessments and justify its benefits.

As a parent of a public school student I have seen firsthand the impact of school testing on children who are stressed and reaching their breaking point. We need to find the balance that will allow our schools to prepare our children for success but, at the same time, lets our kids be kids.

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Committee Advances Dancer’s Bipartisan Bill to Prevent Wildfires, Aid Environment with Prescribed Burns

Press Release – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer that will make New Jersey’s forest ecosystems healthier and safer from wildfires has been advanced by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

The legislation, A-1275, would establish a certification program for prescribed burn managers and procedures for conducting prescribed burns. It also permits the Bureau of Forest Fire Management (BFFM), within the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), to prescribe burns in any area of the state that is determined by the BFFM to be in reasonable danger of wildfire. On lands not owned by the State, the service would be required to notify local government of the prescribed burn, publish public notice of the burn, and provide notice to the landowner and lessee 30 days before the burn.

Ron Dancer

“Conducting controlled burns in a safe, strategic and coordinated effort will protect more homes and lives against wildfires,” said Dancer, R-Ocean, Monmouth, Burlington and Middlesex. “We can avoid catastrophes and promote a healthier forest environment by expanding the use of safe and controlled burns, which also have a number of secondary ecological benefits, including wildlife habitat management, forest disease and pest control and nutrient management.”

Due to New Jersey’s restrictive approach, it lags behind many other states in the use of prescribed burns. In recent years, wildfires in the Pinelands have burned thousands of acres and forced thousands of people to be evacuated. The states of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas and Pennsylvania have enacted prescribed burn legislation.

Other bill sponsors include Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway and Marlene Caride.

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Bucco Statement on Gov’s FY 2015 Budget Proposal

Press Release – Assembly Republican Anthony M. Bucco, R-Morris, who is a member of the Assembly Budget Committee, issued the following statement regarding Gov, Christie’s Budget Address which was delivered before a Joint Session of the Legislature this afternoon:

Anthony M. Bucco

“Governor Christie has proposed a budget that is fiscally responsible and continues to put New Jersey on the road to recovery without raising taxes. His strategy that puts taxpayers first by controlling spending, funding education and making the required pension payment are priorities residents of this state support. Absent pension, health benefits and debt service costs, this budget is almost $1 billion less than what was spent in the state’s 2010 budget.

“Without question, these are challenging times and difficult choices must be made. We have proved that we are up to that task and the fiscal discipline of living within our means continues under the Christie administration.

“I look forward to a rigorous and honest debate during the budget process and I believe that our focus must be to address the priorities the governor has established. Promoting a more competitive business tax structure, supporting education and providing direct property tax relief will make our state a more affordable place to live. I am confident we will be able to work together on a plan that continues to move New Jersey in the right direction.”

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O’Scanlon Reacts to Gov. Christie’s Budget Proposal for FY 2015

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, issued the following statement regarding the Budget Address delivered by Gov. Christie to a Joint Session of the Legislature this afternoon:

Declan O'Scanlon

“The budget message we heard today serves as a clear reminder of the impact of Gov. Christie’s sensible, restrained fiscal leadership. Thanks to the groundwork laid by the governor, the budget proposed today manages the explosive growth in public employee pension and health benefit and debt payments while maintaining, and in some cases increasing, funding levels for crucial services.

“With continued responsible restraint, New Jersey will fully fund a pension payment of almost $2.25 billion in 2015, and increase school funding to record levels. Not one school district will see a reduction in state funding, and more state dollars are allotted to school choice and preschool programs.

“This budget is another example of the Christie administration’s consistently fiscally conservative philosophy. When Gov. Christie was elected, the words ‘We must live within our means’ were rarely uttered – and less-frequently meant – by folks in Trenton.

“With this budget, Gov. Christie demonstrates again that he is a man of his word.

“I am hopeful that with rational bipartisan collaboration, and with Gov. Christie’s leadership, we can continue on our current path, bringing increased affordability and opportunity to New Jersey.”

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Rumana on Budget Plan: Promises Made, Promises Kept

Press Release – Assembly Republican Whip Scott Rumana, R-Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Morris, issued the following statement regarding Gov. Christie’s Budget Address which was delivered today before a Joint Session of the Legislature:

Scott Rumana

“As the governor continues his efforts to right the fiscal sins of past administrations, we must understand that such an enormous task takes patience and time. Working together we have made tremendous progress, but tough decisions remain. With this plan, he again has demonstrated our party’s commitment to fiscal discipline and government reform.

“He continues to keep his promises to the people of New Jersey by producing another budget that protects the best interests of all taxpayers by providing funding for vital services without any tax increases for the fifth year in a row. He is also keeping his word by making the largest pension payment in the state’s history.

“I hope our Democrat colleagues will put political posturing aside and join us in our commitment to keep New Jersey moving in the right direction.”

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Rible: Budget Reflects Continued Commitment to Fiscal Discipline

Press Release – Assembly Republican Conference Leader David Rible, R-Monmouth and Ocean, issued the statement below following Gov. Christie’s Budget Address which was delivered today before a Joint Session of the Legislature:

Dave Rible

“Prosperity comes with a price. Sacrifices must continue to be made if we are to move forward in our efforts to keep our state fiscally stable and affordable.

“Make no mistake, New Jersey has come a long way under the leadership of Governor Christie who has repeatedly proved he is not afraid to make the tough decisions. This budget proposal is testament to that, especially his promise to fund the pension system with a[n] historic $2.25 billion payment.

“The plan also makes clear the governor’s commitment to taxpayers by taking the high road and refusing, for the fifth year in a row, to raise taxes despite calls for tax increases by our counterparts. He understands that tax hikes are the problem, not the solution.”

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Angelini Statement on Gov. Christie’s FY 2015 Budget Proposal

Mary Pat Angelini

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Deputy Conference Leader Mary Pat Angelini, R – Monmouth, issued the following statement regarding Gov. Christie’s Budget Address, delivered this afternoon to a Joint Session of the Legislature:

“I applaud Gov. Christie’s diligence for crafting his fifth consecutive State budget without increasing taxes. This is a herculean accomplishment, considering the skyrocketing burden on the taxpayers from pensions and health benefits for public employees, and the debt.

“The FY 2015 plan provides for an increase of more than $500 million in property tax relief, and injects more than $2 billion in job-creating tax relief for businesses, significantly addressing two of the most pressing concerns of our New Jersey families.

“This budget once again raises the bar on education funding, with the highest level of school funding ever for New Jersey, at almost $13 billion. State support for our schools in 2015 reflects an increase of 36 percent over 2010, Corzine’s final year in office. Not one school district will see its aid reduced, and we will increase funding to some important areas, including aid for school choice programs and preschool education.

“The Governor’s proposed budget once again demonstrates that his priority is the sensible, responsible treatment of taxpayer dollars.”

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Declan O’Scanlon Responds to Budget Committee Discussion on New Jersey’s Debt Condition

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, issued the following statement at the conclusion of today’s Budget Committee meeting, which was dominated by discussion about the State debt.

Declan O'Scanlon

“Any credible discussion of New Jersey’s debt position has to start with our actual debt position, and the significant rate of growth of our debt over the past 10 to 15 years.

“What is disconcerting about the debt report released last week is that despite this administration’s solid and consistently conservative fiscal management policies, the fiscally reckless tactics of the past still exert substantial negative pressure on the State’s economic standing.

“The repeated use of blatantly irresponsible, back-ended debt issuances and dramatic debt increases continue as a severe challenge for New Jersey, but the governor has steadfastly shown that he is up to that challenge.

“The Christie administration has proven to be a responsible steward of New Jersey’s fiscal situation, limiting debt growth to just a fraction of the levels of the past. This administration’s utilization of responsible debt strategies and consistent vigilance has resulted in dramatically reduced debt growth rates compared to the decade before Governor Christie was elected.

“I am willing to listen to serious suggestions about further controlling the debt issues facing our state. However, anyone who suggests the Administration has not made considerable progress is either being disingenuous for political purposes, or they are failing to accept the realities.”

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