Category Archives: NJ State Senate

LD-12 Senate candidate Brown racks up Public Safety Endorsements

Old Bridge – State Senate candidate Bob Brown has received the endorsement of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) and Firefighters’ Mutual Benefit Association (FMBA) in his campaign against Assemblyman Sam Thompson for senate seat in the newly-former 12th district. Himself a former policeman who was shot in the line of duty, Brown is committed to providing public safety personnel with the necessary resources to keep all of us safe.

“My opponent voted to gut collective bargaining, leaving the police and firefighters who protect us every day vulnerable to pay cuts and benefit losses,” said Brown. “Meanwhile, he leaches off the system by receiving a public pension and public salary at the same time, totaling over $100,000. Voters need to know that I stand for their safety and protection, while all Thompson stands for is his own fat bank account.”

State PBA President Anthony F. Weiners has sent a letter to all police households in the district praising Brown and urging members to vote for him. In the letter he says: “[Brown] is a passionate voice that law enforcement should be promoted and defended, not scapegoated by politicians who follow party bosses.”

Thompson is not only a “double dipper,” he is also a party boss – the Chairman of the Middlesex County Republican Party. Last month, he made offensive remarks about police officers who seek a second career after retirement, equating it to his own “double dipping” and has refused to issue an apology.

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Filed under 12th Legislative District, Bob Brown, Democratic Candidate, double dipping, fraternal order of police, NJ State Senate, Sam Thompson

Has The Time Come To Allow NJ Citizens The Right To Carry A Gun?

On the campaign trail in Monmouth & Ocean Counties,a question that pops up in rural areas of the “New” 12th District, when can citizens carry a gun for protection in NJ?
Been there, done that, with a handgun as a police officer. I do not know the percentage of police officers in NJ that go through their careers and have been involved in a shooting? I mean getting shot and shooting someone else.

But with the reported spike in crime in 2010 from 2009, I would bet that violent crime has also spike in 2011 with less police officers due to retirements and layoffs in NJ.

So should citizens in NJ be allowed to carry guns to protect themselves? I think I am changing my mind to let this happen if elected to the NJ Senate, as a Democrat.

After reading about what happened to Mr. Rattu from Old Bridge getting carjacked and shot to death in Atlantic City after going to that Abbott District to celebrate his graduation from Nursing School, if he had a gun he could have protected himself.

Or what about Mr. Hughes in Paterson that was undergoing training with the National Guard. Gunned down on the street and now dead. Could he have protected himself with a handgun?

I carried a gun when I was a police officer, then retired and did not carry one. Then the law was enacted to let retired police officers carry. I went back to qualifying so I could carry but it was a pain in the ass to qualify 2 times a year with the cost of ammunition, use of firearm facility and annual permit fees with the NJ. State Police. I eventually let my permit lapse for the past 4 years.

But I re-activated it when it turns out that I was representing someone on a Drunk Driving case that was arrested in another State under a large FBI arrest of Mobsters and my client was one of them. I was quick to re-qualify and be able to carry to protect myself and my family from a potential perceived threat of a Mobster, although some of that threat may have come from too many Godfather and Goodfella Hollywood movies.

Maybe it is now time for NJ citizens to have that same protection with all that violent crime that I read about in the newspapers and see on TV about New Jersey’s shooting spree of citizens in this State.

And this coming from a Democrat and not a Conservative Republican like Governor Christie or a Tea-Party Republican like my opponent Assemblyman Sam Thompson.

Bob Brown
Democratic Candidate
NJ State Senate, 12th Leg. Dist.

MM- I don’t know if I can endorse this idea from my friend Bob Brown just yet but it is an intriguing idea. I am a gun owner myself and have often thought about the issue. If handle correctly, I my be able to be persuaded.

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Filed under 12th Legislative District, Bob Brown, concealed weapons, Democratic Candidate, Gov. Chris Christie, gun laws, NJ State Senate, Organized Crime

LD12 Senate candidate Brown calls on opponent Thompson to apologize for anti-police comments

NEWS RELEASE
September 13, 2011



Old Bridge – State Senate candidate Bob Brown, a retired police officer who was shot in the line of duty, is calling on his opponent in the November election to apologize to law enforcement officials for a disparaging comment he made last week about retired police. Assemblyman Sam Thompson, the Republican nominee for Senate in Legislative District 12, was replying to a call from Brown to forgo his public pension while he accrues a salary as a legislator, a practice known as “double dipping.”

In reference to Brown’s criticism of Thompson’s double dipping, the Assemblyman said to PolitickerNJ.com that Brown should “look at all his fellow law enforcement officers who retire and take a second career. Is he bothered by that?” (Source: PolitickerNJ)

“First Sam Thompson refuses to stop abusing New Jersey taxpayers by double dipping, taking both a public pension and public salary. Now, he has insulted police officers everywhere by comparing his selfish actions to their struggle to put food on their families’ tables,” said Brown, who went to law school after becoming permanently disabled because of a gunshot wound. “Police officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us all safe. Thompson owes all of them an apology.”

Thompson continues to receive both his salary and pension, totaling over $100,000 per year, despite calls from Brown to stop collecting one of the other. Brown currently receives a disability pension and has pledged not to collect it if he is elected to the State Senate.

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Filed under 12th Legislative District, Bob Brown, double dipping, NJ State Senate, Old Bridge NJ, police pensions, PolitickerNJ, press release, Sam Thompson

>Sweeney: Gov. Christie’s tools aren’t the sharpest in the shed

>NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney has written the following article that appears online this morning on NJ.com. It’s a must read for anyone who thinks that Governor Christie’s “Tool Kit” is the be all, end all solution that will control the rise of property taxes in the state.

Of the 33 bills in the Governor’s “tool kit”, Sweeney rightfully points out that some of them overlapped and were combined to form 24 and later reduced again to by the Governor when he finally realized that proposals about higher education would do nothing to lower property taxes, leaving 20.
Sweeney points out that the Legislature has passed 8 of the 20 bills thus far, the 2% cap on property tax increases and arbitration reform for police and fire contracts being the key pieces passed. While 2 other bills dealing with civil service reform and a cap on sick-leave payouts were passed by the Legislature but vetoed by the Governor. Sweeney then goes on to tell how many of the remaining “tool kit” reforms will do little to bring down property taxes.
So the next time anyone has to hear Republicans in Middletown chastise Democrats in Trenton for not acting on the “tool kit” and saying that these reforms are necessary so that they can control themselves from overspending, I think Sweeney’s article should be read into the record and see what comments, if any Tony Fiore, Gerry Scharfenberger or the others have to say:

The governor has blamed everything and everyone for the highest property tax increase in four years. He continues to state that if only his “tool kit” were passed, New Jersey’s property tax problems would magically disappear.


Closer scrutiny of the governor’s kit proves his claims are false and are merely meant to distract from his own culpability in property tax hikes. The governor cut more than $2.4 billion in funding to schools and municipalities last year. That is why your taxes are going up. The tool kit will not make up that shortfall.

There are reforms that must be implemented, such as pension and health benefits reforms, which I have supported since 2006. I am committed to getting those done. But those reforms are not — and never were — part of the governor’s proposed tool kit.

First, let’s have truth in numbers. The governor started by saying there were 33 bills in the tool kit. Actually, there were 24 after items were combined. Now the governor says there are 20, because he finally realized that four proposals dealing with issues at colleges and universities have absolutely nothing to do with property taxes.

The Legislature did pass eight tool-kit items. First was the creation of the 2 percent cap on annual property tax increases, which the Legislature lowered from the 2.5 percent cap the governor initially proposed. Second was arbitration reform for police and fire contracts, which was heralded across the state by local officials as key to reining in property taxes.

Two others — comprehensive civil service reform and a cap on sick-leave payouts for public employees upon retirement — were passed and sent to the governor, who vetoed them. We have no reform in these two areas because the governor chose to kill reform.

Civil service needs to be reformed and modernized, but abolishing it will not lower property taxes. Only one-third of New Jersey towns are bound by civil service rules, and those towns actually have lower property taxes per capita than towns without civil service. Civil service was established to protect against political corruption and nepotism. It is puzzling that the governor wants to completely eliminate this protection.

Sick-leave payouts should be capped, but the governor vetoed a bill to do that because he wants to take away benefits workers have already earned. That may be a nice talking point, but it won’t stand up in court. And it would create a flood of new retirements as workers cash out before the law would take effect. If the governor got his way, this tool would actually cost taxpayers even more.

Two other parts of the tool kit are already in comprehensive shared services legislation I am sponsoring with Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, which goes far beyond what the governor envisioned, and which will move through the Legislature later this spring.

These are the only parts of the tool kit that will save you money on your property tax bill. We did them. The handful of remaining bills that the governor clings to won’t save you anything.
One would cap spending on state government operations — which already exists under law, and even if it did not, would have no impact on local property taxes. Another would allow local governments to use furloughs to save money — which they already can do as long as furloughs are negotiated.

Another bill to centralize all power over civil service decisions in the Civil Service Commissioner (read: czar) would only consolidate the governor’s power and do nothing to lower property taxes.

One bill would move school and fire commission elections to November — a move whose total property tax savings, according to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Service, would be “minimal.”

Others would change the way some employee discipline measures are handled (OLS estimated savings: $140,000), require the mailing of only one sample ballot per household (OLS estimated savings: $1.4 million), and allow municipalities to offset property tax delinquencies against state income tax refunds (OLS estimated net savings: zero).

The governor’s rhetoric does not stand up to simple math. The tool-kit bills that haven’t yet been passed offer no real help from New Jersey’s crushing $25 billion property tax burden.

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Filed under 2% cap, arbitration reform, civil service, Gov. Chris Christie, NJ State Senate, NJ.com, property taxes, Stephen Sweeney, tax saving tool, toolkit

>NJ 12th District Senate Candidate Pledges to "Cut the Fat"

>Anyone that follows this blog on a regular basis knows Robert (Bob) Brown. Bob is a friend of mine whom I’ve gotten to know over the past 5 years, while he was busy running twice for the NJ State Assembly in the old 13th District in 2007 & 2009.

When I congratulated him on receiving the Democratic line for the open NJ State Senate seat in the new 12th legislative district, I asked him if he had anything that he wished to comment on for the blog and for any potential voters in his new district.

In pure Bob Brown fashion he asked me to pass along his pledge:

“I pledge to tighten my belt and cut the fat by losing 40 pounds between now and election day. I ask the Governor to share in the sacrifice and cut his fat first before cutting other peoples benefits.”


I can tell already that Bob Brown’s campaign for a State Senate seat will be one to remember and I wish him all the best!

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Filed under 12th district, 13th Assembly District, blogging, Bob Brown, Democratic Candidate, NJ State Senate

>NJPP Monday Minute 12/6/10: CORPORATE TAX CUT BILLS LACK FISCAL ANALYSIS

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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.

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

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.

PROPER ANALYSIS

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.

POSITIVE PROOF

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