--May 15, 2013--
Christie administration warns it might not make full pension payment in future years
TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie has warned potential investors there is no guarantee the state will make its required pension payments in future years, an admission that underscores a looming financial crisis he and future governors face as retirement costs are expected to explode before the decade ends.
The disclosure, buried in a 156-page bond prospectus for investors, also casts doubt on one of the key commitments Christie and leading Democrats made to public employees as part of the 2011 health and pension reform: Workers would shoulder a greater share of pension costs in exchange for the state making required payments to the cash-strapped pension fund.
The Christie administration warned potential investors earlier this month that future pension payments — estimated to grow from $1.7 billion next year to about $5.5 billion by 2018 — will drain resources and "create a significant burden on all aspects of the State’s finances."
continue reading at the Star-Ledger...
--May 08, 2013--
Thank you for giving me the distinct honor and privilege of serving as our party’s state chairman for almost three and a half years. I wanted you to know that I will not be seeking another term as chair when my term ends in June.
My time leading the state committee has been both challenging and rewarding. When I took the helm, we had just come through a disappointing loss of the Governor’s office. Our party was in debt and we faced an energetic and ambitious Republican Party who saw an opportunity to make electoral gains under the leadership of their new governor. I’m proud to say that, despite their hopes, our Democratic Party is strong and remains the party that best represents the values of New Jersey’s residents. With a record of success, and the pieces in place for another victory this November, the time is right to pass the torch. I hope you will consider giving to the state party today to ensure that the next chair has the resources to continue the work that we have done here.
I am reminded of the words of President John F. Kennedy who once said, “Victory has a thousand fathers.” Our victories, and our strength, have come from you and thousands like you who work hard every day and give what you can to support Democratic candidates at all levels. In 2011, I worked with Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, and other Democratic leaders, to ensure that the legislative district map reflected the fact that there are 700,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in New Jersey. In November of that year, we actually added to our legislative majority. In 2012, we led 200 delegates and 300 guests to Charlotte for a successful Democratic National Convention and, in November, New Jersey was one of only two states in the nation to increase President Obama’s margin of victory. We re-elected Senator Menendez by nearly 20 points and we sent 6 Democratic Congressmen to the House. We couldn’t have done any of this without you.
Today, as we approach our next gubernatorial election, our state party’s fiscal health has been restored, our county Democratic organizations remain strong and New Jersey Democrats are ready for the battle to regain the Governor’s office, maintain our legislative majorities and expand our success at the local level. My successor will need your support to build upon our successes in November and beyond. If you can give $5, $10, or $20 today, you will help the next chair hit the ground running.
As I look to the last month of my tenure at the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, I have a few more thank yous:
Thank you to my colleagues in the state legislature, particularly our legislative leadership. They have helped unify our legislators to produce victories on issues such as marriage equality, an increase in the minimum wage, women’s health care and support for our public schools.
Thank you to our Democratic Senators and Congressmen who have stood united in support of our President and on issues such as extending unemployment benefits for those in our state who have struggled to find work, economic stimulus measures to help put people back to work, defending a women’s right to choose and promoting sanity in our federal policies to prevent gun violence.
Thank you to Mayor Dana Redd for serving as Vice Chair of the state party. I have valued her sound advice and counsel and she is an asset to this organization and to our state.
Thank you to the staff of the Democratic State Committee, who have helped maintain a healthy, vibrant presence for our state Democratic Party over these past few years and who have helped create the foundation upon which we can continue to build electoral success.
I want you to know that, as hard as the work has been, it has been a great pleasure working with all of you – both old friends and new. Of course, my work on behalf of New Jersey Democrats and the values we all share does not end when I pass the torch at the state party. This November, I will be on the ballot for re-election as an Assemblyman from the 19th legislative district, but I will also be working to support Democratic candidates across this state. I encourage you to continue to support the state party and candidates around the state by giving today.
Thank you for your support. I look forward to seeing many of you at the 17th Democratic State Conference in Atlantic City next week.
All my best,
--May 06, 2013--
In case you missed it... NJ Spotlight reports that property taxes are now up 22.4% under Governor Chris Christie. That increase is much higher than what New Jersey residents saw under Governor Corzine. If your property tax bill is up, you're definitely not alone.
Read the whole story at NJ Spotlight.
--April 30, 2013--
Last week, Atlantic County Chair Jim Schroeder wrote a guest column for the Press of Atlantic City, illustrating the differences between the myths about Governor Christie and the cold hard facts.
"Whether you like his style and his showmanship or not, Christie should be judged on his actions and not his words. I would submit that much of his work product is based on myth rather than fact.
Myth: Christie has cut property taxes.
Fact: An analysis by NJ Spotlight shows the average net property tax as a percentage of household income has risen from 9.25 percent under former Gov. Jon S. Corzine to 11.7 percent under Christie. According to the analysis released by NJ Spotlight on Jan. 30, 2012: "Property taxes are eating up a larger share of family income than under previous governors." During the last three years of the Corzine administration, the average rebate was $1,035. During the first two years of Christie, rebates were reduced to zero in 2010 and $240 in 2011."
Read more at the Press of Atlantic City...
--April 29, 2013--
Congrats to our former NJDSC Chair, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman! Senator Barbara Buono selected the assemblywoman to serve as chair for Buono's gubernatorial campaign.
Star-Ledger has the coverage here.
--April 19, 2013--
New Jersey's unemployment rate (9% for the month of March 2013) is still higher than the other states in the region and higher than the national average.
Now, Bloomberg News reports that even the jobs being added in New Jersey may not be the good middle class jobs that New Jersey's economy needs to grow and fully recover from the recession:
Key Points from Bloomberg:
"Jobs have emerged as a potential weakness for Christie, who is enjoying record popularity for his handling of Hurricane Sandy and is a possible 2016 presidential candidate. While 87 percent of New Jersey voters approved of his storm-recovery efforts in an April 10 Rutgers-Eagleton poll, only 42 percent were positive about his handling of employment and the economy.
New Jersey has added 127,800 nongovernment positions since Christie took office, 51 percent of those lost in the recession that began in December 2007. In Pennsylvania, 69 percent of the jobs have been recovered, while New York has regained more than it shed. New Jersey’s failure to keep up with its neighbors has Christie defending his job-creation policies, which include tax cuts and less business regulation."
“The broad pattern or net change suggests that we do have a problem with the quality of jobs or mix that is added,” said James Hughes, dean of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. “We’ve added a lot of jobs in health services, retail and leisure and hospitality, which tend to be below-average paying.”
--April 18, 2013--
Governor Christie hyped a tax cut plan on Monday. Two key facts:
1) The proposal was based upon the Democratic proposal from 2012. So, not only was this not a new proposal, it wasn't even the Governor's idea.
2) With revenue shortfalls for the budgets of FY2013 and FY2014, the math doesn't add up.
Don't take our word for it, check out what the Herald News said:
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2013
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE used Monday's tax deadline to make another pitch for a tax credit. There was symbolism in the governor laying out a slightly revised tax plan on April 15, but you have to wonder if Christie also was thinking of another date: Nov. 5, Election Day. A governor seeking reelection after pushing through a tax cut or credit has a powerful campaign message.
There was nothing all that new in what the governor said during a Monday morning radio interview. Christie proposed a 10 percent property tax credit to be phased in over four years for homeowners earning up to $400,000 a year. The credit would be capped at $1,000. He also proposed that the state's earned income tax credit for the working poor be raised to 25 percent of the federal level, which is what it had been until the governor scaled it back to 20 percent in 2010.
Both these proposals have surfaced previously in Trenton only to be stymied by the Democratic-controlled Legislature. Democratic leaders say state revenues won't support a tax reduction, and while they like restoring the earned income tax credit to what it was in 2010, they object to the governor linking it to a tax cut.
Some of the Democratic opposition is pure politics, no question about it. But there also is evidence to support their claim that a tax cut would be fiscally irresponsible. The state's current budget, which runs through June 30, assumes that revenues will grow by a very optimistic 7 percent. Nine months into the fiscal year, state revenue is rising, but not by that much.
David Rosen, the non-partisan budget analyst with the Office of Legislative Services, has projected a $302 million gap between the governor's revenue forecast and his own by the end of the fiscal year. If that's the case, the governor will have to make cuts or find ways to increase revenue. That doesn't make a tax cut look very promising.
That's unfortunate, because election-year politics aside, the governor's proposals have merit.
New Jersey property taxes are the highest in the nation, so relief for average homeowners is needed. The governor's property tax credit idea is actually one originally proposed by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester. Christie initially sought an across-the-board income tax cut of 10 percent, but abandoned it in favor of the property tax credit idea.
The main attribute of the earned income tax credit is that it rewards individuals for working. Increasing it from 20 to 25 percent of the federal standard may only mean a few hundred dollars for the working poor, but even a small added benefit is meaningful.
One new wrinkle in what Christie proposed Monday was a provision that would allow the Legislature to prevent scheduled tax reductions from taking place in any year in which there is insufficient revenue to support them. That, of course, is precisely what Democrats in the Legislature have been saying: The state can't afford a tax cut.
This political knot is not going to be loosened by statutory language, but by rising revenue, which is still theoretically possible between now and the end of June. We hope it occurs. A property tax credit and a restored earned income tax credit would benefit residents. However, it would be irresponsible for the state to decrease taxes when revenues are below expectations.
--April 11, 2013--
It isn't just New Jersey women who are shortchanged when they earn less than a man for the same work. Paycheck fairness is a wallet issue for New Jersey families. If a woman makes equal pay for equal work, her family has more money in the bank and more money to help grow New Jersey's economy. It is time to elect a Governor who recognizes that equal pay for equal work just makes sense. It is time to elect a Democratic governor in November!
--April 09, 2013--
April 9 is Equal Pay Day. In New Jersey, women make just 78 cents for every dollar men earn. It is time we have a governor who will fight to ensure that women get equal pay for equal work.
--April 08, 2013--
On April 4, New Jersey Democrats from around the state gathered together to fundraise for the upcoming election and hear from Democratic leaders.
Camden Mayor Dana Redd served as emcee for the evening
Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie, the longest serving county party chair, led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Amber Gesslein, candidate for New Jersey's 10th Assembly District, sang the National Anthem.
General Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver spoke.
Senator Barbara Buono gave remarks.
NJDSC Chairman John Wisniewski addressed the crowd.
Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland gave the keynote address and invited Senator Buono to join him on stage.
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