Category Archives: New Jersey

As A Matter Of Fact…Business Leaders Agree: Raising the Minimum Wage Makes Sense

by Jon Whiten
Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

While legislative leaders’ efforts to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour have taken a backseat in recent weeks to the governor’s proposed income tax cut, similar legislation in New York is gaining the backing of some high-profile business advocates.

First up was a Daily News op-ed co-authored by New York City’s billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg that used free-market ideology to argue for bolstering the minimum wage.

“[The minimum wage] helps taxpayers by reducing the number of people who might otherwise have to rely on public assistance to survive,” Bloomberg and state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wrote. “Taxpayers benefit when government dependency is low – and so does the economy.”

The Daily News piece was followed a few days later by an editorial in business bible Crain’s that called for the minimum wage to be raised to $8.50 an hour and tied to inflation going forward. Crain’s said opponents’ arguments that a wage increase will destroy low-paid jobs just aren’t true; it pointed to New York’s 2004 raising of the wage as an example.

“If the change had a cataclysmic effect on businesses that depend heavily on minimum-wage workers, we certainly missed it,” the paper wrote. “Neither, quite obviously, did it shower undeserved riches on the bottom rung of workers.”

If and when the minimum wage bill here in New Jersey starts to pick up steam again, we can only hope some of the state’s leading voices for business will, like Bloomberg and Crain’s, avoid a knee-jerk dismissal of the proposal, and look instead at how it will help our entire economy to flourish.

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Filed under As a Matter of Fact, blog, Michael Bloomberg, minimum wage, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NY Daily News, taxpayers

OP-ED: Governor Rex Christie

In light of the big game tonight, Josh Henne sent me a link to this op-ed he wrote on the striking similarities between Rex Ryan & Chris Christie. It appears over at PolitickerNJ:

In a sea of vanilla coaches and milquetoast politicians, Jets Coach Rex Ryan and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have burnished reputations for bluster, bullying and bombast. They’re tailor-made for the attention-deficit, me-first, sizzle-over-substance society we live in. A splashy quote, a bold claim with a curse-word thrown in for good measure…and bickety-bam you’ve got a nice hit on the nightly news or a clip to go viral online. Sure, these two men can be considered refreshing. But so is a colonic. And you certainly don’t want to deal with either on a daily basis.

It stands to reason these two larger-than-life characters stand out – because Christie and Ryan both furnish the media with quality copy and soundbites. However, there’s a fine line between being charming and becoming a caricature of yourself. And leaders are afforded a short rope before folks start realizing the rhetoric doesn’t match the results. In recent months, Christie and Ryan have planted their feet firmly on the wrong side of both accounts.

The beauty of both politics and the playing field is that these arenas are results-oriented. The metrics of wins and accomplishments are the only ones that matter. It’s not just about who can talk the biggest game. And the shtick employed by both Christie and Ryan runs thin once you scratch the surface of their swagger.

No one remembers football teams who never make it to the big game – no matter how many times their coach promises a trip to the Super Bowl. Rex believes if he yells loud enough folks will forget choking in the conference championship or failing to even make the playoffs. If Ryan makes himself the story, perhaps fans won’t notice his team regressing or his quarterback failing to grow.

In politics, its hard to take someone seriously who hogs the spotlight, bashes his own state to pander to Iowa crowds and tosses the word “hell” into public statements like a twelve-year old who just discovered cursing. It’s difficult to believe someone is authentic when they pack taxpayer-funded townhall meetings with partisan backers and care more about generating youtube moments than results. It’s hard to take Governor Christie at his word as he pledges poverty when cutting essential programs, yet miraculously finds funds to give handouts and bailouts to casino execs, mall developers and those at the tippy top of the economic strata.

The words “doing the big thing” are often shouted to the rafters by Chris Christie. Yet if you look at actual results, he comes up small every time. New Jersey lags the nation when it comes to employment. And no matter how many times Christie claims he hasn’t raised taxes, all anyone has to do is hold up a train ticket, scan a tuition bill from a state university or look at their property taxes to see swelling costs.

Both Christie and Ryan have an amazing ability to change the topic following failures. Rex shoots off his mouth after a loss, giving excuses while still calling his team the one to beat – no matter how badly he was outcoached by those who might not be as flashy, but have more substance. When Christie skipped town with an historic blizzard bearing down on his state, the governor refused to take responsibility and even blamed local mayors when he finally came home from his Disney vacation. When New Jersey’s children lost $400 million in Race to the Top funding because his administration bungled a simple application, Christie first blamed Barack Obama and then threw his own Education Commissioner under the bus.

Chris Christie might not share Rex Ryan’s predilection for sucking on toes. But the governor does spend an inordinate amount of time and energy sucking up to the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove and corporate lobbyists. And that’s a far more nefarious fetish. Because these one-percenters are seeking to scale back regulations in order to better their bottom line – even if it means poisoning New Jersey’s land, air and water. In Christie’s New Jersey, middle-class families find themselves in harms way time and again.

Like Rex Ryan, Christie’s image as a take-charge guy rings hollow when you see the rudderless execution of plans. Womens’ health, infrastructure improvements and education efforts have all been defunded. Cops and firefighters receive pink slips, while crime escalates. And Christie has no vision for the future – as evidenced by cancelling the ARC Tunnel linking to Manhattan which would have taken cars off the road, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, raised home values and created 6,000 immediate jobs and 45,000 future jobs.

On the playground, the cardinal rule is that when you’ve got a big mouth you’ve got to be able to back it up. The quickest way to shut up a bully is to call them out. And for all their blunt statements and bold claims, folks are finally catching onto the Christie-Ryan playbook. The coach and the governor have both elevated the bar with inflated achievement to the point that even slight improvements would seem mundane when the tale of the tape is truly told. More and more, their exhortations are being met with eyerolls and yawns.

With his annual guarantees of a Super Bowl victory, yet failing to even make the playoffs this year, Rex Ryan is clearly no second coming of Joe Namath. And Chris Christie…well, let’s just hope he goes the way of Sarah Palin. A one-term governor with a big personality who burst onto the national scene and became addicted to the adulation to the point of diminishing returns and eventual ridicule.

What society needs – in all facets of life – are leaders of substance focused on results, not their own ego or personal gratification. Clearly, Coach Ryan and Governor Christie care more about creating headlines than making a real difference. We should treat them like a parent dropping off a crying kid at nursery school. All they want is attention, so if we just walk away hopefully they’ll get the hint and cut the act.

Josh Henne is a Democratic strategist and a Giants fan.

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Filed under Arc Tunnel, bullying, cops and firefighters, Gov. Chris Christie, Josh Henne, middle-class families, New Jersey, NY Giants, NY Jets, Op-Ed, PolitickerNJ, Rex Ryan, Super Bowl, women's health issues

BUONO CONDEMNS FIREBOMBING OF BERGEN COUNTY TEMPLE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 11, 2012
Contact: Christina Zuk (732) 205-1372

EDISON – Today, Senator Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) issued a statement condemning the alleged firebombing of Temple Beth El in Rutherford, NJ.

“Deplorable acts of violence motivated by hatred and intolerance have no place in our society,” said Buono. “No group or individual should be forced to live in fear for their safety or for the safety of their family and neighbors.”

The fire, which was started at around 4:30 this morning, began in the upstairs portion of the structure which is reportedly home to Rabbi Nosson Schuman and his wife and five children. Press accounts have confirmed that no one was injured.

“While I am relieved to learn that the Rabbi and his family were unharmed, we as a state and as a community cannot allow such acts of violent prejudice and intolerance to go unchallenged,” Buono continued. “I have every confidence that Bergen County and State authorities will ensure that justice is sought and served. But we as members of this state have a responsibility to denounce these acts, to demand tolerance, and to teach future generations that such behavior will never have a place in New Jersey.”

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Filed under Bergan County, firebombing, intolerance, New Jersey, prejudice, press release, Senator Barbara Buono

Rush Holt; Polluters Should Pay Once Again

Posted from Congressman Holt’s newletter

Last week, I toured two toxic cleanup sites in Middlesex County that are being restored to health by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program which requires polluters to pay for the cleanup of sites they have contaminated.

A few years ago, these sites were toxic dumps, unsafe for anyone to live or work. One had hosted incinerators for photographic film and circuit boards; the other had been home to a chemical plant used in the production of oil field chemicals and anti-corrosive agents. In both areas, toxic chemicals had leached into the soil and groundwater. Without intervention, the sites would have been unsafe for human habitation for decades, even centuries.

Now they are on track to be fully restored for public use. That is a testament to the potential of the Superfund, and it is evidence of the remarkable work of the Environmental Protection Agency – an agency that is so often the target of political attacks precisely because it is so effective in standing up against polluters.

The Superfund law originally required highly polluting industries to also pay for the cleanup of “orphan sites” where no specific polluter could be identified. More recently, however, Republicans in Congress have blocked efforts to require polluters to pay into the Superfund “orphan” cleanup fund.

Partly as a result, the Superfund is dramatically underfunded, delaying efforts to clean up hundreds of toxic waste sites across New Jersey and the country. Even worse, taxpayers – rather than polluters – are now being forced to take on the burden of cleaning up these “orphan” toxic industrial sites. This is simply a wrongheaded and wasteful way to use our very limited tax dollars.

Sincerely,

Rush Holt
Member of Congress

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Filed under chemical waste, Congressman Rush Holt, EPA, Middlesex County, New Jersey, polluters, superfund toxic waste sites, toxic waste

Pallone Announces Sayreville Landfill is No Longer a Superfund Toxic Waste Site

Washington, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. Tuesday announced the Sayreville Landfill Superfund Site is free of toxic chemicals and that the site has now been removed from the Superfund list of the country’s most toxic waste sites. EPA’s Superfund program is responsible for the ongoing cleanup of numerous sites including the Imperial Oil and Raritan Bay Slag Superfund sites in New Jersey.

“This is a testament to the importance of the Superfund program and it’s a success for New Jerseyans who live in close proximity to this site,” said Pallone. “This site was harmful to the environment, but EPA’s commitment to cleaning up the site will make it possible for this land to be potentially put to use to the benefit of the taxpayers.”

Pallone has been a long-time advocate of fully funding the Superfund program and has raised concerns that the program lacks adequate funding because it is no longer funded by a tax on the chemical and petroleum industry. Because Congress has not reauthorized the polluter-pays taxes, the cleanup of Superfund sites is paid for out of the general treasury.

In April 2011, Pallone introduced H.R. 1634, the Superfund Polluter Pays Act, to restore polluter-pays provisions for cleaning up America’s most toxic and polluted sites. The bill mandates a cents per barrel tax on crude oil or refined oil products and dollars per ton on certain toxic chemicals The President’s FY 2012 budget, which calls for reauthorization of these taxes, estimates that they would raise about $2 billion per year and $20.8 billion over 10 years.

Over 30 drums were removed from the Sayreville Landfill Superfund site, a system to control stormwater and contain methane gas was installed and the site was capped. The work was done with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and overseen by EPA.

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Filed under chemical waste, Congressman Frank Pallone, EPA, Imperial Oil, New Jersey, Raritan Bay, rsey landfill, Sayreville NJ, Superfund program, toxic waste

Senator Robert Menendez: Honoring our Veterans This Veterans Day

Dear Friend,

This Veterans Day, it is time to recommit ourselves to helping every military family across the Garden State.

We need to help businesses help veterans and their spouses build careers, make sure that our schools are doing all they can to help military kids, and all of us need to do what we can to help military families in our local communities.

But truly honoring our veterans means providing jobs. It means job training, and giving every job opportunity possible to unemployed veterans.

In New Jersey we have 453,498 veterans — 12 percent of them are unemployed. That’s why I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act that gives businesses a tax credit for hiring returning veterans, and more of a tax credit if they hire a wounded veteran.

As our troops begin coming home from Iraq, our duty to them is not just remembering their service, not just saying thank you on Veterans Day, it’s delivering on the promise of a grateful nation every day.

New Jersey’s hero-sons-and-daughters did not wait to sign up to serve this country, and they should not have to wait to get the benefits they have earned defending it. And they should not have to come home only to stand on the unemployment line after putting themselves on the line serving this nation.

That’s why the Veterans jobs bill encourages employers to hire veterans, ensures that disabled veterans who have exhausted their unemployment benefits get the training and rehabilitation they need, the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits they need and job assistance tailored to today’s job market.

The bill provides a competitive grant program for nonprofits that provide mentoring and training programs for vets. It allows employers to be paid for providing on-the-job training to veterans and it would provide Work Opportunity Tax Credits for businesses that hire veterans — and more for businesses that hire disabled vets.

We made a promise to veterans, and it’s a promise we must keep.

Happy Veterans Day to all.

May God bless our troops. And may God bless America.

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Filed under Disabled American Veterans, Job Training, jobs program, Military Families, New Jersey, tax credits, unemployment, US. Sen. Robert Menendez, Veterans Day, War Veterans, YouTube

Pallone Fights for New Jersey’s Shot at Billions in Professional Sports Betting Profits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 9, 2011


Will Introduce Bill to Ensure Approved Sports Betting Referendum is Implemented

Washington, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. said when it comes to professional sports betting in New Jersey, the voters spoke yesterday and 2:1 voted to allow sports betting at casinos and racetracks. Pallone added that the federal government or any other entity that attempts to block implementation of this vote will not be tolerated.

“New Jersey voted for, and deserves a bite of the apple in terms of sports betting,” said Pallone. “Any delay in making this possible is a loss of profits for local businesses which is unacceptable.”

The threat to implementing the referendum approved by New Jersey voters Tuesday comes in the form of a 1992 law that prohibits any governmental entity from authorizing professional and amateur sports betting and when it was passed exempted four states from the law. The referendum allows the legislature to legalize betting on professional sports at approved locations.

“The law as it stands is unconstitutional and unfairly prohibits New Jersey from benefitting from this billion-dollar industry. We’re not asking to break the rules, rather that everyone play by the same rules,” Pallone added.

Pallone will introduce legislation on Monday that amends the current statute to exclude New Jersey from the prohibition on professional sports gambling and allow only professional sports betting. The legislation would allow a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling or scheme to be operated which is exclusively based in New Jersey and which is based on professional sports. The legislation would force these changes to take effect immediately upon enactment.

Under the referendum, sports betting could be approved at the Monmouth Park Racetrack just outside Pallone’s district, potentially attracting hundreds of visitors to the area and thousands in new revenue for the park and surrounding businesses.

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Filed under Congressman Frank Pallone, New Jersey, press release, Sports Betting