Category Archives: NJ State Assembly

Hypocrite Handlin Is Wrong On "Right-To-Work"

Republican Assemblywoman Amy “the Hypocrite” Handlin (LD13), has a guest column appearing in print and online in this weeks edition of the Independent, in which she states that she will be introducing a bill that will essentially strip all workers of their right to collective bargaining.

This guest column of her’s first appeared online at back on May 31st and does not seem to have been updated since.

Since the first publication of Handlin’s column appeared over at the newsroom, I would be remised if I didn’t point out that her proposed legislation, which just so happened to be co-sponsored by her running mate in this years election Declan O’Scanlon, was dead on arrival. Good reporting and follow-up to Handlin’s commentary piece was done by Newjerseynewsroom reporter Tom Hester Jr.
In his follow-up which appeared July 8th, Hester spoke to NJ Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and is quoted as stating:
“This legislation is dead on arrival. It’s that simple. Dead on arrival.

Radical conservative ideology such as this has no place in New Jersey. This type of move may play elsewhere, but, quite simply, this anti-worker bill will never see the light of day.

Not only is this legislation an atrocious assault on worker rights, but it’s terrible economic policy, it would set back any chance we have under Gov. Christie of a strong recovery.”…

“Democrats and Republicans can work together for the common good and when appropriate to improve our economy and protect worker benefits, but this wage-cutting, anti-business bill is a line in the sand that cannot be crossed,”

Hester also quoted New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech who stated, “The deceptively named “right to work” policy is currently law in 22 states and is considered one of the most anti-union policies in the nation,” about Handlin and O’Scanlan’s proposed bill (A-4223).
So what is the purpose of having this old and out of date commentary printed in the Independent other than to mislead and misinform readers of her district, many of whom are hard working members of unions in both public and private unions? It is obviously a play at gaining support from the more conservative residents in the district and members of the TEA Party, who feel that she is out of touch and a “do-nothing”.
If this legislation ever where to be signed into law here in New Jersey it would undermined the livelihoods of not only union members, but all workers, white collared as well as blue collared.
Wages would remain stagnant and pension and health benefits would slowly dwindle away anytime a employer was concerned that his bottom-line was no longer big enough to support his mansion or yacht club membership.
Below are a few reader responses to Handlin’s commentary posted on the NewJerseyNewsroom, it seems that they also have a problem with her proposed and non existent, dead on arrival typically hypocritical legislation that is meant to pander instead of providing serious answers to her district’s problems:

“Right to Work”is a misnomer. It’s really the opportunity for any company to pay any employee any amount the company wants. Just what we need: more people earning less than a living wage and without any access to health care other than visits to the emergency rooms. So good for NJ! The assemblywoman cannot be so naive that she believes employers would care about safe working conditions. After all, money spent on safe working conditions would be better off lining the pockets of the wealthy. And, by law, union dues cannot be used for political purposes. Members must choose to donate into a separate fund. Now, if members are too scared to tell the union bosses they won’t donate, shame on the members. (Sarah H)

“Unions need a balance” – For the most part I agree with Ms. Handlin. I don’t think it’s an all or nothing deal though, unions are good things to have in otherwise unsustainably-low paying situations, but for professionals it makes less sense. Let the legislation you craft not try to swing the pendulum so far that it undermines the good side of unions, or it will surely fail.
( Ashley_)

” Handlin comments” – According to Handlin:“Right to Work would also quicken New Jersey’s economic revival. Right-to-Work states had 497,000 new businesses from 1993 to 2009, compared with 340,000 in forced union states, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently cited by the Wall Street Journal. That’s remarkable because just 40 percent of American workers live in Right-to-Work states.”

It’s hard to believe so many people fall for statements like this of Handlin’s, and support radical legislation like this. The truth is, what’s really remarkable is that ALL of the businesses she cites to being created from 1993 to 2009 weren’t created in Right-to-Work states…after all, in their pursuit of profits, businesses will do anything to keep the costs of labor down. Why is all the greatest economic growth now going on in China, India, etc? Because people will work 16 hour days for $12. Handlin sees that success spreading to the south, and now wants to bring it here to NJ. If it’s been so great for those 22 states, why is our per-capita income and standard of living so much higher here?

Thanks but no thanks, Amy Handlin, you’re just a rich legislator who wants to be even richer like all the others in your party. Some of us can still see right through all your party’s BS. (Richard W)

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Filed under 13th Legislative District, AFL-CIO, Amy Handlin, Declan O'Scanlon, New Jersey Newsroom, NJ State Assembly, public workers, right to work, Sheila Oliver, the Independent, union members

>Captain Joseph Azzolina Memorial Bridge in Highlands/Sea Bright Awaiting Governor’s Signature

>Almost forgotten over all the commotion surrounding Thursday night’s pension and health care reform debate down in Trenton, was the fact that pension and health care were not the only business being debated and adopted that day.

Also approved by the Assembly Thursday night was legislation sponsored by Senator Sean T. Kean and Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini that designated the bridge which spans the Shrewsbury River, as the “Captain Joseph Azzolina Memorial Bridge”.
All that is left to making the naming of the bridge in honor of Joseph Azzolina is the signature of Governor Christie, which is expected to soon.

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, Highlands Bridge, Highlands New Jersey, Joseph Azzolina, Mary Pat Angelini, NJ State Assembly, Sea Bright NJ, Sean T. Kean, shrewsbury river

>Cullen Wins Write-In Campaign in Thirteenth District And Set To Challenge Christie’s Right-Hand-Man

June 8, 2011

HAZLET — Following a successful write-in campaign in Tuesday’s primary, Democrat Christopher Cullen is set to challenge Republican Joe Kyrillos for the State Senate.

Mr. Cullen, who served previously as Mayor of Hazlet Township, cited the Christie Administration’s inaction on key environmental issues and failure to create jobs as his reason for challenging the longtime lawmaker.

“The people of the Thirteenth Legislative District will have a choice between a voice for working families and the voice for Chris Christie,” said Cullen. “Senator Kyrillos has been in the Legislature for nearly two and half decades. That’s long enough.”

Mayor Cullen is also a committed environmentalist. He said, “As Mayor, I worked with Democrats and Republicans alike to preserve record amounts of open space. As Senator, I’ll go to Trenton to make sure that what remains of our woodlands and beaches don’t give way to shopping centers and traffic jams.”

Mayor Cullen served on the Hazlet Township Committee from 2001-2004. During that time, he preserved more open space than any mayor in Hazlet history. He currently works as facilities maintenance manager for the Marine Academy of Science and Technology at Sandy Hook.

The new Thirteenth Legislative District comprises Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Fair Haven, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Little Silver, Marlboro, Middletown, Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, Rumson, Sea Bright, and Union Beach.


Filed under 13th Legisaltive District, Christopher Cullen, Democratic Candidate, Gov. Chris Christie, Hazlet Mayor, Joe Kyrillos, NJ State Assembly


Over the next three weeks, Democratic leaders in the Legislature plan to consider 30 bills they claim will “jump-start” the state’s economy and create jobs. A sampling of the first seven of these bills (all of the others haven’t yet been publicly identified) makes clear that “jump-start” means cutting corporate taxes and expanding already generous business tax credits.

Because much of this legislation championed by the Democratic majority is co-sponsored by legislators in the Republican minority, it’s abundantly clear that the bills are on a fast-track through the Assembly and the Senate. The legislation is likely to land on the governor’s desk for his signature by early January.

New Jersey has been down this road before. In fact, we’re still paying for earlier bouts of such foolishness.

In 2001, Judith Cambria warned in a report for NJPP that New Jersey lawmakers’ penchant for cutting taxes, borrowing at unprecedented levels and manipulating pension funds would lead to trouble. Among the problems she predicted: a bankrupt transportation trust fund, high debt and large unfunded retirement liabilities for public employees. Sound familiar?

Four years later, another NJPP report analyzed the cost of Governor Whitman’s sales and income tax cuts in the early 1990s. The report estimated the tax cuts cost the state $24 billion in sales and income tax revenue between 1994 and 2005. And the cuts weren’t worth it. For nine out of 10 New Jersey households, the sales and income tax reductions were swamped by increases in property taxes.

But New Jersey need not be condemned to a history of repeating its mistakes.

Lawmakers should carefully and publicly consider all of the legislation and they should require at least basic understanding of what the bills will do and how much they will cost. At a minimum, each bill should be considered on three key points.


No bill should be discussed or voted out of committee without a complete fiscal analysis, known as a fiscal note. That note should estimate the revenue impact to the state (and to local governments if applicable). Particular attention should be paid to revenues that will be lost from a change in the statutes and how the state will manage those losses. Winners and losers should also be identified.

Take for example, A1676/S1646, known as the Single Sales Factor which is being considered by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on December 8. The bill would change the way New Jersey taxes corporate income. Single Sales Factor has been on the table before-the last time in 2008. It didn’t become law, in part, because of its cost. No fiscal estimate was available when this Monday Minute was written. The most recent credible cost estimate of such a change was made in 2001, when the Assembly Commerce, Tourism, Gaming and Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing on a similar bill. At that time, the state Treasury estimated that switching to the Single Sales Factor would cost the state as much as $250 million annually. If that estimate hold true for this year, that’s 11 percent of the $2.3 billion the state expects to collect from corporations under the tax this year. All of those tax reductions would benefit large, multi-state corporations, like Johnson & Johnson and Verizon not small businesses operating only in New Jersey.


The stated goal of the bill package introduced by the Democrats is job creation, and clearly the leadership is willing to expend state resources to that end. But it is critical, especially because the state’s finances remain so precarious, that proper analysis be done to explain clearly how each bill will create jobs; how many jobs it will create; what type of jobs will be created and where specifically the jobs will be located.

This is not something New Jersey has ever done before even though it should have. In November 2007, lawmakers enacted the Development Subsidy Job Goals Accountability Act, which charged the state with the responsibility of measuring the costs and benefits of its business subsidies (bonds, grants, loans, loan guarantees, matching funds and all tax expenditures). The act required the state to produce a comprehensive analysis of its largesse to the business community by documenting the number of jobs created; the average pay and benefits for each job; and the number of workers with health insurance. The report has never been done.


In March, New Jersey produced its first Tax Expenditure Report, which showed the state is losing $15 billion in FY2011 because of loopholes and exemptions in its tax code. The Tax Expenditure Report is useful because it tracks revenue losses from the bills after they become law. But it’s only hindsight. New Jersey taxpayers deserve proof — or at least reasonable evidence — that cutting corporate taxes and providing credits, subsidies and other incentives to businesses will, in fact, stimulate new economic growth and that New Jersey will be the primary beneficiary.

New Jersey is entitled to (at least) these minimal measures of transparency and accountability from its elected officials. For too long the state has relied solely on those who benefit from tax breaks and subsidies to tell them if the program was successful. The state must do better. And the members of the General Assembly and the Senate should embrace this opportunity to tell their constituents whether taxpayers are truly getting their money’s worth.

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Filed under corporate tax breaks, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ State Assembly, NJ State Senate, tax expenditures, tax policies

NJPP Monday Minute 7/12/10: The Cap: Is it really a solution to high property taxes?

Today the State Assembly passed the latest version of New Jersey’s newest attempt at a property tax limitation: a 2.0 percent hard cap on property tax levy increases that provides just four exemptions for exceeding the limit – health care costs, pension costs, debt and unforeseen crises. The bill represents a compromise worked out between Gov. Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney.

The Governor had been pushing for a 2.5 percent cap that would be written into the state constitution, which would virtually guarantee the cap would never be changed. The Governor also wanted to allow for only one exemption (for debt service) and wanted a 60 percent voter referendum to override the cap.

The amended legislation lowers the cap to 2.0 percent, but includes the additional exemptions listed above and requires a simple majority to override the cap. It also would be a statutory change, not a constitutional amendment – making it more likely that adjustments can be made if unforeseen problems arise.

This bill has moved like lightning. In typical New Jersey fashion, no fiscal analyses have accompanied the cap discussions. And there has been little acknowledgement that the state currently has a 4 percent cap enacted in April 2007 in a bipartisan vote. The current cap law was enacted for budget years after July 1, 2007 and was due to sunset on June 30, 1012. Written into the law was a requirement that the New Jersey Tax and Fiscal Policy Commission report on its effectiveness in controlling property taxes and make recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on or before January 15, 2005.

In the frenzy of activity surrounding the Governor’s proposed Cap and Tool Kit, everyone has conveniently forgotten the months of hearings, public testimony, research and analysis that accompanied the 2006 special legislative sessions. There is more interest in rigid limits than in making changes that can result in rational policy changes. The lack of transparent policy analysis is what got New Jersey to where it is today; this cap bill is no different.

Discussions of this bill on the Senate floor last week centered on bringing “predictability and control” to property tax bills. And one part of the cap is predictable. The average tax bill in New Jersey is $7,281 on a house assessed at $290,502. A 2 percent increase in that bill is $145.62, payable at $12.14 in a mortgage over a 12 month period. What remains unknown, however, is what will happen when municipalities privatize garbage collection services; or when schools raise fees for sports or other extracurricular programs; or when municipal court costs go through the roof because of the increased traffic violations given out as revenue raisers.

The cap is the first shoe in the governor’s proposal.

Over the next few Monday Minutes, NJPP will analyze Gov. Christie’s “tool kit,” a bundle of 33 bills he is promoting as the second phase of his property tax strategy. Lawmakers are expected to hold public hearings on that legislation through the summer.

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, Monday Minute, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ State Assembly, NJ State Senate, property tax cap, property taxes, Stephen Sweeney

"Since when did Massachusetts being ‘whiter’ than New Jersey matter in the discussion of a 2.5 percent property tax cap?…"

That was the question asked by Assemblywoman L.Grace Spencer (D-Essex) when she heard a comment by Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Lori Grifa during today’s special session of the State Legislature to discuss property taxes.

Spencer issued a press release short after hearing the remarks which stated “Since when did Massachusetts being ‘whiter’ than New Jersey matter in the discussion of a 2.5 percent property tax cap? Ask Department of Community Affairs Lori Grifa for an answer. Because I have no idea what the relevance could possibly be.

“A property tax cap is being considered for the benefit of all property taxpayers in New Jersey, regardless of whether they’re black or white. For Commissioner Grifa to interject race in this discussion was inappropriate and unnecessary, and shows a lack of understanding of the issues at hand.”

You can read more about it >>>Here

The answer to the above question happens to be “it doesn’t”, but it just goes to show you that some people will say anything in order to tow the company line!

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Filed under Department of Community Affairs, Lori Grifa, Massachusetts, NJ State Assembly, property tax cap

Former Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina led charge for Battleship New Jersey

From –

MONMOUTH COUNTY — Former Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, a former Navy reserve captain who served 24 years in the legislature, relished his effort to bring New Jersey’s namesake battleship back home.
“He never got the salt out of his veins from serving in the Navy,” said Assemblyman Sam Thompson (R-Middlesex), who spent eight years representing the same district as Azzolina.
Azzolina, 84, a longtime Republican lawmaker from Monmouth County, died Thursday night at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City from complications related to a December surgery for pancreatic cancer. His three sons were by his side.
“He was a great mentor to his family, friends and people that surrounded him,” said his son, Joseph Azzolina, Jr.
Azzolina served in the occupation forces in Europe after World War II and in the Korean War. He remained in the naval reserve until the 1980s, when he served an eight month stint aboard the U.S.S. New Jersey. He later led the charge to refurbish the ship and bring to the Garden State. It sits as a museum in the Delaware River in Camden.
Azzolina, a Republican from Middletown, was first elected to the Assembly in 1965, where he served until moving up to the state Senate from 1972 to 1974. He returned to the Assembly from 1986 to 1988, and again from 1992 to 2006.
Azzolina was born in Newark and grew up in Highlands, over a candy store his parents owned. He opened a grocery store called the Food Basket with his father in 1950 and expanded it into Food Circus Supermarkets, a chain that today has 10 stores. He also owned the Courier, a weekly newspaper that covered the Bayshore area.
State Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) said he first heard of Azzolina from his fourth grade teacher.
“Little did I know that I would go on to work in his supermarket as a teenager and to serve side by side with him in the Legislature,” he said.
State Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth), who was Azzolina’s chief of staff in the 1990s, said he donated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of food from his supermarkets to local charities.
“To the chagrin maybe of some of his management, he never said no,” she said. “At one point I asked him if he wanted to write a press release. He looked at me and said ‘No, I don’t do it for that reason.’”
Beck said Azzolina established the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Program, which treats sexual assault victim and trains nurses in the collection of forensic evidence.
Calling hours will be held Wednesday from 4-8 p.m. and Thursday from 2-8 p.m. at Saint Mary’s Mother of God Church in Middletown. The burial service is set for Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the church.

(picture Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina and son Joseph Jr.)

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Filed under Battleship New Jersey, Joe Azzolina, Monmouth County, NJ State Assembly