Tag: Caroline Casagrande

Casagrande: Taxpayers Take a Hit on Police Chief Payout

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande said it is disgraceful that taxpayers in Middletown are on the hook for nearly $250,000 for their retiring police chief in unused sick and vacation time. Casagrande, R-Monmouth, said it is well past time for the Legislature to make the elimination of unused sick pay for retiring public employees a top priority.

Caroline Casagrande

“This enormous payout is outrageous and an example of why homeowners’ taxes are so high and why the system needs to be changed,” says Casagrande. “For four years, the Democrat-controlled Legislature has refused to consider legislation eliminating this perk. Taxpayers bear the burden of over $800 million in accrued payouts. Unless the Legislature acts now, that liability will only increase for our children and grandchildren.

“The chief’s service to the community is appreciated, but a $249,000 payout puts too high of a financial burden on the town,” commented Casagrande. “This outdated benefit makes New Jersey unaffordable and part of the reason for the outward migration from our state.”

Casagrande is the primary sponsor of A-158 that prohibits payouts for unused sick time. That bill languishes in an Assembly committee awaiting action. Casagrande introduced the identical bill in 2012 (A-2495) which also never received consideration.

“It is time for the Legislature to fulfill its promise to the taxpayer and do something to bring down property taxes. Moving this bill would be a significant step forward in that direction,” stated Casagrande.


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Rible,Wolfe, Casagrande: Don’t shortchange vocational education

Asbury Park Press Editorial -

Not everyone is cut out for college. You would never know it by the meager resources that are put into the state’s secondary schools for vocational training, particularly in urban districts.

Dave Wolfe

Dave Rible

Recognizing that major shortcoming, the Assembly on Thursday approved a package of bills aimed at helping county vocational schools expand their programs. Sponsors included Assemblymen David Rible, R-Monmouth, and David Wolfe, R-Ocean. The Senate is expected to take up the bills in the fall. Action on them can’t come soon enough.

The need for expansion of vocational programs is clear. Nearly 17,000 students were turned away at vocational schools in New Jersey in 2013 because of insufficient capacity, according to the state Council of Vocational-Technical Schools. That number is more than half the current enrollment of 32,000 in full-time and shared-time vocational programs. About 400,000 students are enrolled in the state’s public secondary schools (grades 9-12).

Given the relatively low percentage of high school graduates in urban and some suburban districts who go on to college — not to mention the high percentage of students in urban districts who never even graduate from high school — there is an obvious disconnect between the curricula and the need to prepare students for the work world in many school systems.

That reality is underscored by a recent New Jersey Business and Industry Association survey that found nearly 75 percent of manufacturing companies responding reported that the lack of skilled workers had made it difficult to maintain production levels to meet customer demands.

Community colleges have long recognized the need for career and job-skill training. There is far less awareness on the secondary-school level.

The six-bill package approved by the Assembly last week recognizes the void that needs to be filled. One bill in the six-bill package would require the state education commissioner to establish a four-year County Vocational School District Partnership Grant Program.

It would create an incentive program in which grants are awarded to county vocational school districts to partner with urban districts, other school districts, county colleges and other entities to create high-quality career and technical education programs in existing facilities.

Many of the programs not requiring extensive capital outlays could be run in students’ home high schools, freeing up spaces in the vocational-technical schools.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, who was among the supporters of the bill, argues that funding the grant program would be a much better use of state school aid than continuing to direct money to under-performing districts, even after students have left those schools.

Caroline Casagrande

We can continue to send money to districts with no accountability or we can invest in programs that produce results,” Casagrande said. “The ‘hold harmless funds’ allow districts to keep aid for students who are not in their classrooms; meanwhile vocational schools are turning students away because they don’t have the capacity to meet the demand.”

The grants would allow schools to establish a partnership with other entities to provide training outside the confines of the vocational school campuses when it has been demonstrated that the demand for a particular program exceeds the school’s capacity.

Other bills in the package would:

• Require schools to include evaluation of student career readiness on report cards to help prepare them for real-world jobs.

• Require colleges training new teachers to include a professional development course in employability skills, career awareness, and understanding career and technical education.

• Increase the availability of college-level instruction for high school students through dual enrollment agreements between colleges and high schools.

• Encourage schools and employers to collaborate on the development of career and technical educations programs in work place settings, and exempt those locations from standards for new school construction.

• Provide additional aid to vocational districts that have experienced a significant enrollment increase.

The word “vocational,” when used in combination with “training,” has a stigma attached to it in this country that is not shared by most of the affluent nations in the Western world.

“College prep” isn’t for everyone. It is time the state’s political and educational leaders come to grips with that — and shape their curricula and their budgets accordingly.

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Bucco-Casagrande on NJ budget and tax hikes

Asbury Park Press -

It’s all over but the vetoing.

Democratic lawmakers approved a $34.1 billion state budget supported in part by higher taxes on the wealthy and businesses Thursday, setting up all-but-certain vetoes by Gov. Chris Christie by some point between today and early next week.

Christie has pledged to reject the extra tax on income over $1 million, which would mark the fourth time he’s vetoed that in five years, and a 15 percent surcharge on corporations. His budget veto will be more nuanced, as his line-item veto power lets him erase some spending without rejecting the whole bill.

Anthony M. Bucco

“The most important relief that taxpayers can count on today is that the governor still has ink in his red pen and is ready to use it,” said Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, R-Morris.

It’s unclear when Christie will announce the vetoes. The 2015 budget year doesn’t begin until July 1, which is Tuesday, though even if he waited until after that date it wouldn’t trigger a shutdown of state offices.

Roughly $1.5 billion in pension contributions kept in the budget by Democrats despite Christie removing it from his spending blueprint after income tax collections plunged in April will be the highest-profile deletion, but other spending added by lawmakers is also likely to get zapped.

To generate the funds needed to help cover the pension payment that’s required under a 2010 law, Democrats approved two major tax increases:

• Imposing a 10.75 percent tax rate on income over $1 million. Such a tax would yield an estimated $723.5 million for the state’s 2015 budget and cost 16,000 taxpayers upwards of $1.8 billion before it expired in December 2016. It was approved 24-16 in the Senate and 48-31 in the Assembly.

• Imposing a 15 percent surcharge on the corporate business tax for one year. This would yield $390 million, though a small portion would be dedicated to environmental programs rather than the general fund. This tax drew a bit less support, passing 21-18 in the Senate and 42-37 in the Assembly.


The income tax increase generated some of the day’s most heated discussion.

Caroline Casagrande

“We are the most beautiful state in the nation. Only in New Jersey can you go to the mountains, can you go to the beach, can you go to the biggest city in the United States,” said Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth. “There is no excuse for the fact we are not keeping our citizens except for the plain-as-day facts that outward migration and tax burden in this country right now match.”

When Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, R-Monmouth, offered to lead a tour of homes in “Middletown, the greater Red Bank area, Rumson,” where he said well-off residents can easily change their tax residence by spending a few more weeks at vacation homes, Senate President Stephen Sweeney responded angrily.

Kyrillos said Democrats miss the larger argument.

“It’s not the millionaires that I’m worried about. It is all the other people who depend on the revenue of this state for their pension, for schools, for roads, for bridges,” Kyrillos said, who noted the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers foot about 40 percent of the state’s income tax bill.

Lawmakers also passed a bill – 25-12 in the Senate, 43-35 in the Assembly – that would generate $110 million in additional taxes through various tax changes, including a requirement that online retailers in other states begin collecting sales taxes on transactions involving New Jersey residents starting July 1.

That bill would appear likely to be signed by Christie, as he recommended the changes in his budget speech in February. Lawmakers didn’t pass other tax proposals Christie made, including plans to hike taxes on e-cigarettes and business-to-business sales in urban enterprise zones.

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DiMaio-Casagrande Laud Committee Approval of Vocational Training Program

Assembly Republican Press Release -

A proposal to establish a grant program that would assist county vocational schools expand programs was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee yesterday and supported by Committee members Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande and Assemblyman John DiMaio.

As a General Contractor, Assemblyman DiMaio (District 23 – Hunterdon, Somerset, Warren) understands the value of vocational-technical schools and the need for skilled labor in the state. This program would make training available to a significant number of students who are currently being left out of programs.

John DiMaio

“The number of available spaces at our county vocational schools is insufficient to accommodate all of the applicants,” DiMaio continued. “Potential students are being denied the opportunity to participate in programs that could be extremely beneficial to them and the business community.”

According to the NJ Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools, nearly 17,000 students were not accepted at vocational schools because of insufficient capacity in 2013.

“This would truly be an investment in both our students and the economy,” DiMaio explained. “We need a skilled workforce to be able to provide services and products necessary for economic growth.”

Assemblywoman Casagrande (District 11- Monmouth) explained that funding this program would be a much better use of aid than continuing to direct money to under-performing districts, even after students have left those schools.

Caroline Casagrande

“We can continue to send money to districts with no accountability or we can invest in programs that produce results,” Casagrande said. “The ‘hold harmless funds’ allow districts to keep aid for students who are not in their classrooms; meanwhile vocational schools are turning students away because they don’t have the capacity to meet the demand.”

The grants would allow schools to establish a partnership with other entities to provide training outside of the confines of the vocational school campuses when it has been demonstrated that the demand for a particular program exceeds the school’s capacity.

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association have recognized the role vocational training plays in improving the business climate in the state. According to association, nearly 75 percent of manufacturing companies surveyed reported that the lack of skilled workers has made it difficult to maintain production levels to meet customer demands.

“We must do a better job of preparing our students for the jobs of the future” adds Casagrande. “By expanding quality vocational programs we are opening up a well paying career path for many and providing our employers the skilled labor they need.”

Both Assembly members look forward to approval of this program by the full legislature and implementation of these programs.

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Caroline Casagrande

Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association -

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande [R-11th District] from Colts Neck, NJ defeated three other New Jersey lawmakers in the 2014 Legislators Race, an exhibition event between the first and second races on Friday night, June 13, 2014 at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

While Casagrande was the first across the wire, Senator Dick Codey [D-27th District] was the first to make the appeal for the future of the Meadowlands.

“You need to do everything you can to get slots here at the Meadowlands,” Codey said from the winner’s circle at the Meadowlands. “Call your legislators and demand it, demand it!”

The quartet of legislators overcame sloppy conditions and showers as they toured the one-mile oval in double-seat jog carts, paired with top drivers at the Meadowlands.

Casagrande, who was teamed with Corey Callahan, stopped the clock in 2:09.2.

Finishing second, about five lengths back, was Codey, partnered with Yannick Gingras, who edged out Assemblyman Ralph Caputo [D-28th District], sharing the two-seater with David Miller. Assemblyman Ron Dancer [R-12th District], a former professional driver-trainer and son of Hall of Famer Stanley Dancer, was coupled with John Campbell and finished fourth.

“As the only female in the race, my main goal was not to finish last,” said Casagrande. “I was pretty pumped to win it.”

She attributed her success to the talent of her partner, Corey Callahan, and the coincidence of them both sharing the same initials – CC.

Each of the legislators was racing on behalf of a charity with $1,000 to the winner’s charity and $500 to each of the other three charities.

Casagrande raced on behalf of the Ashley Lauren Foundation, Codey for the Codey Fund for Mental Health, Caputo for the American Cancer Society and Dancer for the Hornerstown Baptist Church.

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Casagrande Bill Creating a N.J. Cold War Medal Earns Approval of Assembly Military Panel

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

New Jersey veterans who served during the Cold War would be honored with a new medal under a bill sponsored by Assistant Assembly Republican Leader Caroline Casagrande that was advanced today by the Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Caroline Casagrande

“The Cold War was a long, tense and costly period that lasted almost half a century. More than 120,000 New Jersey veterans served during the global showdown between the U.S. forces of freedom and the Soviet Union’s legion of communism,” said Casagrande, R-Monmouth.

Under the bipartisan bill, A-1899, the governor may present a Cold War medal to any state resident who was honorably discharged from service after completion of at least 180 days of service during the Cold War, which started after World War II on September 2, 1945. It continued until the collapse of the government of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

“The Cold War Medal recognizes their patriotic contributions to maintaining the fragile balance of global power in an era of increasing military might, incendiary diplomatic rhetoric, and the threat of a nuclear first strike,” Casagrande said. “Their service helped win the Cold War, returning freedom to millions of people around the world.”

The bill requires the Adjutant General of the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs (DMAVA), or the Adjutant General’s designee, to determine eligibility for the medal, and specifies that the medal may be awarded for a deceased person or a person missing in action and presented to a representative on behalf of the deceased or missing person. Eligibility is limited to veterans who are not otherwise qualified to receive any medal based on war time service during the Cold War.

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Dancer, Casagrande join other NJ lawmakers in horse race Friday night

Source: The Star-Ledger -

New Jersey’s lawmakers are off to the races.

Caroline Casagrande

State Sen. Richard Codey and Assembly members Caroline Casagrande, Ronald Dancer and Ralph Caputo will compete at the “2014 Legislator Pace” Friday evening at the Meadowlands.

The winner will get $1,000 donated to the charity of his or her choice. The other three will win $500 for their charities.

The lawmakers will ride in “sulkies” — two wheel carts pulled behind Standardbred horses.

Most lawmakers will be accompanied by an experienced driver.

Ron Dancer

But Dancer (R-Ocean) doesn’t need the help. Not only is he a retired professional harness racer himself, but his father, Stanley Dancer, was a legend of the sport.

“I’m going to put my horse’s nose on the starting gate, and when the gate leaves, I’m going to feed him race track. I’m going to get out front and get out of everybody’s way,” Dancer said.

Casagrande (R-Monmouth) – who represents horse breeding country – could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Applicants sought for Casagrande’s Fourth ‘Young Women’s Leadership Institute’

Source: Asbury Park Press -

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, is accepting applications for the Fourth Young Women’s Leadership Institute — a program that mentors and guides young women to be leaders.

“Everyone in public life has an obligation to help the next generation take control of their own future in an effort to make themselves and our society a better place.” – Asw. Caroline Casagrande

The nonpartisan program, which runs through next spring, is open to 10 high school junior girls in the 11th Legislative District. They will be mentored by a female leader and develop a community service project.

Caroline Casagrande

“This program is a great way to prepare young women in New Jersey to be tomorrow’s leaders,” said Casagrande. “Everyone in public life has an obligation to help the next generation take control of their own future in an effort to make themselves and our society a better place.”

Applications must be submitted by May 2 and include an essay of less than 1,000 words about the topic “What Would I Like to Accomplish as a Future Leader?” two letters of recommendation and a list of extracurricular activities.

Applications should be sent to Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, 35 W. Main St., Freehold, NJ 07728 or emailed to AswCasagrande@njleg.org.

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Webber-Casagrande-Simon spend a night for homeless youth and raise $25K for Covenant House

Source: PolitickerNJ -

Camped under the stars outside the Statehouse last night, New Jersey lawmakers raised over $25,000 for homeless youth in Covenant House’s first ever legislative sleep-out.

Jay Webber

“It was a worthwhile night; a notable and meaningful event,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26), co-chair with state Sen. Joe Vitale (D-19). “There was a lot of learning and sharing going on, and for those of us participating on the legislative side, we came away with an appreciation for these kids.”

Founded in New York City in 1972, Covenant House is the largest privately funded charity in the Americas providing services to homeless, abandoned, abused, trafficked, and exploited youth. The state’s largest service-provider to homeless and at risk adolescents under 22, Covenant House New Jersey provides healthcare, educational and vocational services, counseling, drug abuse treatment and prevention programs and transitional living programs.

Caroline Casagrande

“Covenant House is always there, when no one else is, to help homeless, at risk adolescents,” said Casagrande. “I was moved to get involved by the stories of those whose lives have been changed by this remarkable organization. It is my hope that my participation in this ‘Legislative Sleep Out’ will bring attention to the work of Covenant House and encourage others to get involved.”.

Early Friday evening, the bipartisan gathering of 16 legislators broke into groups inside the Statehouse to hear the testimonials of young people between the ages of 18-22.

The following lawmakers participated: Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-11), state Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-11), Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg (R-8), Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-15), Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15, Assemblywoman Celeste Riley (D-3), Assemblywoman Grace Spencer (D-29), Assemblywoman Donna Simon (R-16), state Senator Pete Barnes (D-18), state Sen. Nellie Pou (D-35), state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29), Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35), Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-38), and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37).

The group of legislators and youth took their sleeping bags, pillows and ponchos and trooped outside around 11 p.m. Friday night, to the grass in front of the Statehouse Annex facing West State Street.

After a conversation and song, some impromptu Evita and Carole King, most people nodded off around 1 to 2 a.m. in a night without rain.

“It was uncomfortable,” Webber said of sleeping on the ground. “But we were so much more comfortable than the homeless youth we were trying to help. We had access to restroom, we were with our colleagues, we had a patch of grass, and we were safe. A lot of these kids don’t have that. The experience doesn’t compare to what they go through, but it was a good reminder to us of their challenges out there. We were fortunate to raise awareness and keep them in our consciousness.”



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Bramnick attends League press conference on deadline for the 2% Cap on Interest Arbitration

Source: New Jersey State League of Municipalities Press Release -

On Thursday, the New Jersey League of Municipalities and the New Jersey Association of Counties (NJAC) held a joint press conference to urge Governor Chris Christie and the State Legislature to enact legislation to permanently extend the 2 percent cap on interest arbitration awards, which will expire on April 1st.

League President and Stone Harbor Mayor Suzanne Walters, League 1st Vice President and Eatontown Mayor Gerald Tarantolo and Ewing Township Administrator Jim McManimon joined NJAC President and Monmouth County Clerk Claire French and Passaic County Freeholder Director Pat Lepore in urging the Legislature and Governor to quickly enact a permanent extension on the 2% cap on interest arbitration awards.

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick unexpectedly joined the press conference, complimenting municipal and county officials for focusing on the need to make the cap a permanent fixture. Assemblyman Bramnick pledged his support.
On Thursday, Assemblyman O’Scanlon, Assemblywomen Schepisi, Casagrande, and Rodriguez-Gregg introduced A-2987 which will make the 2 percent cap on interest arbitration awards permanent and remove the “one bite at the apple provision.” With only 12 days left until the sunset of April 1, it is imperative that you reach out to your State Senator and Assembly representatives asking them to support A-2987.


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