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

5 Reasons Why Chris Christie Would Be A Horrible President

This post from Addicting Info hits on all the points as to why our Governor, Chris Christie, would be a disaster as president. The post is not mean-spirted, just a matter-of-fact telling of how it is. Christie maybe the latest GOP flavor of the day and making people sit on the edge of their seats waiting like eager children for a double scoop of Rocky Road ice cream but the bottom line is, he is on the wrong side of many issues that are important to the average person.

The new Republican face of the week is Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. After constantly saying “no” over and over when questioned whether he will run for president, Christie is possibly having a change of heart. Added into the mix of current candidates, Christie would surely shake things up. His anti-worker stance in New Jersey has been popular among conservatives, but hated by many others. Here are 5 reasons why Chris Christie would be a horrible president.

1. War on Workers – As we look around the country, the war on workers has grown. Conservative governors such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Rick Scott in Florida, have stepped on the average worker and union member as they’ve seen their rights stripped away at every turn. Chris Christie is one of the names on the list that has gone after union rights. In order to get his budget under control, instead of asking the wealthiest members of his state to contribute, Christie attacked union members and forced them into pension and health care cuts and froze their raises in the future.

2. Anti-Education – Like many other conservatives, the attack on public education is nothing new. Republicans look to privatize schools, manipulate the curriculum and cut more spending out of their budget to preserve the tax breaks for the wealthiest members of their state. Christie has cut over $1 billion in public education since coming into office, which effects both teachers and students. Public education cuts have more to do than just tightening the budget, they are also a great way to break apart public sector unions. Public school teachers are part of a larger public sector union, which are one of the top contributors to Democratic campaigns. Like his Republican friends, Christie looks to destroy unions in order to weaken the Democratic party, even at the expensive of working Americans.

3. Destroying Social Security – Out of all the government programs, none has stood the test of time and been as successful as Social Security. Before the great President Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law, over 75% of seniors lived in poverty, today that number is less than 10%. Chris Christie has followed the GOP stance on Social Security and calls for privatization and raising the retirement age. Currently, seniors over the age of 65 receive benefits. Christie and the Republicans have looked to raise the retirement age to close to 70, forcing the elderly to work even longer despite the average life expectancy in the US to be only 73. While Democrats look to preserve the program, Christie and the Republicans look to destroy it.

4. Christie, of course, loves the rich – While middle-class families lost their property tax rebates, got kicked out of health care programs and schools lost over $1 billion in funding causing massive tuition hikes, Chris Christie pushed to give tax breaks to top income earners. The “token” line of defense for Christie and the Republicans is that if you lower taxes, businesses will want to stay in the state, build and create jobs. This is proven to be false on many occasions. Many pharmaceutical companies have left Christie’s state of New Jersey and headed for states like California and Massachusetts not because of the tax rate, but because they have better research and development centers. Cutting taxes on the rich at the expensive of the middle-class is not just wrong, but deplorable.

5. His Health – When discussing a political candidate, people should stay away from personal matters unless it would really be detrimental to the office. Chris Christie has been criticized, and rightfully so, for his out of control weight problem. Christie has had a history of medical problems, and was even taken to the emergency room in July because of severe breathing problems and an asthma attack. Obesity is one of the leading causes of heart failure, and Christie is the perfect example of someone who needs to take better care of themselves. The issue with Christie’s weight has nothing to do with his politics, but maybe instead of trying to take care of the country, he should try to take care of himself first.

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Filed under AddictingInfo.com, Education, GOP presidential candidate, Gov. Chris Christie, millionaire tax cuts, New Jersey, Republicans, Social Security, war on workers

Senator Lautenberg Announces Disaster Assistance for Hurricane Irene

I want to provide you with a critical update on Federal Government disaster assistance that is available for New Jersey residents harmed by Hurricane Irene. If you yourself have not suffered damage, please forward this information to any family or friends who may need assistance.

Yesterday, President Obama issued a Major Disaster Declaration for damage resulting from Hurricane Irene in our state, which makes many New Jersey residents eligible for a number of Federal disaster relief programs. These programs offer grants and loans to individuals and loans to businesses.

The Federal Government has set up a website that allows people to apply online for assistance:

http://www.disasterassistance.gov

This website consolidates the application process across several Federal agencies, including FEMA and the Small Business Administration. The website also reduces the number of forms you will ultimately have to fill out, shortens the time it takes to apply and allows you to check the progress of your applications online.

If you want to apply by phone rather than the Internet, you can call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).

While the damage suffered across New Jersey is devastating, I know our state can rebound quickly. Federal aid will play a crucial role in our recovery, so please take advantage of the resources available. Please don’t hesitate to contact me anytime regarding this or other issues.

Sincerely,

Frank Lautenberg

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Filed under distaster relief, FEMA, Hurricane Irene, New Jersey, President Obama, Sen. Frank Lautenberg

Rush Holt: Latest Word On Hurricane Irene Recovery

Many in our community suffered losses in Hurricane Irene. I am continuing to survey the damage and to consult local officials about their observations.

Traveling by helicopter, by car, and door to door, I have seen that the damage is serious but spotty. Some neighborhoods have escaped damage, while others have suffered significant flooding. It is clear that, for tens of thousands of New Jerseyans, the hurricane’s impact is ongoing. I will continue to work with federal, state, and local officials to ensure that our state has every resource it needs to recover.

In the meantime, I encourage you to document any damage to your property for your insurance company. I also have written to the President to urge him to declare a major federal disaster area, and if and when this declaration is issued, I will follow up with information on any assistance for which you may be eligible to apply.

If your home was affected by flooding, I encourage you to follow guidance from FEMA upon returning home, as dangers may persist even after floodwaters recede.

You may also find New Jersey-specific information on the disaster response on the website of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. Up-to-the-minute information on road closures caused by the hurricane may be found at 511nj.org.

Finally, you may have heard that our region is suffering a blood shortage because Hurricane Irene forced the cancelation of many blood drives and donation appointments. If you are able to, I urge you to make an appointment to give blood as soon as possible.

All of us owe deep gratitude to the public servants who worked through the storm to keep our communities safe. Princeton in particular suffered a great loss. One of our local volunteer EMTs confronted swift floodwaters in an effort to protect local residents and, tragically, was swept away and killed. His sacrifice reminds us of the dangers that our first responders face willingly each day, and it underscores the debt we owe to those who risk their lives to keep us safe.

Although we have suffered significant losses, already our community is rallying together. Over the weekend, while volunteering at a shelter in Holmdel, I saw firsthand how countless New Jerseyans gave generously to help those displaced by the storm. At times like these, we remember that we are one community, and we are united in our resolve to help our friends and neighbors.

Sincerely,

Rush Holt

Member of Congress

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Filed under 511nj.org, American Red Cross, blood donations, Congressman Rush Holt, disaster assistance, FEMA, Hurricane Irene, New Jersey, President Obama, recovery efforts