The NJDSC Week in Review for February 24, 2012
Welcome to the latest installment of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee's week in review.
Here's a look back at some of the news from this past week and toward the end, some of the upcoming events around the state next week:
Christie Proposed a $32.15 Billion Budget
- Christie delivered his budget address on Tuesday, proposing a $32.15 billion budget with an income tax cut that benefits the wealthiest residents of New Jersey as its centerpiece.
- The Star Ledger criticized parts of Christie's budget for being based on dubious claims like unrealistic revenue estimates and a focus on cutting income taxes instead of property taxes to help taxpayers.
- Watch the New Jersey Democratic response to Christie's proposed fiscal year 2013 budget here.
- Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver commented that Christie's proposed budget does not focus on the right priorities: "It's become clear that the Governor, much like a magician, has become the Master of Distraction. So while he waves around one hand with gimmicks like 'The Jersey Comeback' and an income tax cut proposal, he's hoping no one will notice that his other hand has been slashing programs for working families for the last two years."
- Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said that Christie's budget should have focused on solving the property tax issue: "The Governor falsely claimed that the property tax problem has been solved and he falsely claimed that cutting taxes for millionaires and multi-millionaires is the best formula for the economy. He's wrong on both counts. We all want to cut taxes, but we should cut the right taxes and we should help those who need it most."
- Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald said Christie missed the point with his budget proposal: "The bottom line is that the governor’s budget plan is just more of the same – tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the middle-class."
- Assembly Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski criticized the lack of real leadership in Christie's budget proposal: "I agree with the Governor that real leadership will turn New Jersey around. Unfortunately, we're still waiting for real leadership. With his proposal to spend $2 billion more than last year while cutting taxes, Gov. Christie's budget address was a masterful piece of political theater meant to divert attention from the problems facing New Jersey's middle class."
- Assembly Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto will seek ways to help all New Jersey residents, not just the wealthy: "As chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, I want our middle-class and lower income families to know that we stand with them, and will review this plan thoroughly to deal with property taxes and ensure property tax relief for ALL residents of New Jersey."
Christie's Income Tax Plan Benefits Richest New Jerseyans at Middle Class's Expense
- Christie proposed a 10% across the board income tax cut that will disproportionately benefit wealthy New Jerseyans over middle class families.
- The Asbury Park Press called for Christie to turn his attention to property taxes, not income taxes.
- The Star Ledger's Tom Moran called Christie's income tax cut plan "pure political theater" and criticized the benefits for the wealthy: "Under this plan, a stockbroker in the rich town who earns $1 million would get $7,300 a year from Christie’s tax break. A middle-class family earning $50,000 would get $80."
- Senate President Steve Sweeney criticized Christie's plan for supporting the wealthy over the middle class: “We’re not going to stand back and support an income tax cut that’s only going to benefit the wealthy and give crumbs to the middle class.”
- Assembly Speaker Oliver attacked the income tax cut plan: "No matter how the Governor dresses it up, a 10 percent across-the-board income tax cut is still a disproportionately generous gift for the wealthiest among us, one that will have little-to-no impact on the lives of working class New Jerseyans. Even more puzzling is the lack of details on how the Governor intends to pay for his millionaires' gift."
- Christie is using unrealistic revenue estimates to pay for his windfall for the wealthy.
Marriage Equality After the Veto
- The Daily Show's Jon Stewart skewered Chris Christie over his veto of marriage equality legislation.
- After Christie conditionally vetoed marriage equality legislation, the Asbury Park Press called on the Legislature to override his veto: "The Legislature should override the veto. It’s time for legislators, particularly Republicans, to show they are more concerned about equality than the party line."
- In his veto, Christie called for the creation a new bureaucratic office to try to ensure that civil unions are recognized and respected equally: the Ombudsman for Civil Unions. Senate President Sweeney believes the ombudsman is not the solution: "Why would you need an ombudsman when you had a bill that respected everyone's rights?"
- Senate President Sweeney has vowed to override Christie's veto.
- While the Legislature works on overriding Christie's veto, there is also a lawsuit working its way through the court's that will try to prove the civil union law violates the US Constitution and that the passage of the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act by both the Senate and Assembly shows legislative intent to enact marriage equality. Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality is fighting for marriage equality both in the courts and in the Legislature: "The court had already upheld our claim of state equal protection. So now our case will be heard on both state and federal constitutional grounds. It’s a happy day as we pursue all roads to justice, marriage equality in the courts and marriage equality via an override in the state legislature."
Assembly Committee Approves Minimum Wage Increase
- Legislation to increase New Jersey's minimum wage to $8.50 an hour was advanced by the Assembly Labor Committee.
- Legislative Democrats have made raising the minimum wage a key part of their agenda for this legislative session.
- Assembly Speaker Oliver, a sponsor of the legislation, testified in support of raising the minimum wage: "This is about livable wages for the lowest-income earners. Quite simply, we should all support economic stimulus, increased consumer spending and livable wages." Watch the Speaker's full testimony here.
- Assembly Deputy Speaker Wisniewski, another sponsor of the bill, believes raising the minimum wage is about stimulating the economy as well as ensuring a livable wage: "Minimum wage increases stimulate the economy by increasing consumer spending, without adding to state and federal budget deficits. Consumer spending drives 70 percent of the economy, and increasing that ability to spend is key for jumpstarting production and re-hiring."
Chris Christie to Warren Buffett: "Shut up."
- During an appearance on CNN, Christie attacked Warren Buffett and his focus on attaining a fair tax code in typical Christie fashion, saying, "He should just write a check and shut up."
- Chairman Wisniewski criticized Christie's response: "Governor Christie's comment that he was tired of hearing about Warren Buffett may have surprised national viewers but for New Jersey residents it's just the latest example of the Governor's intolerance for anyone who disagrees with him. In this case, he's dismissive of Mr. Buffett because of his call for tax equity and his record of creating wealth by investing in American companies and American jobs. Instead, Governor Christie prefers tax policies favoring the wealthy and a presidential candidate who made millions by destroying American companies and sending American jobs overseas."
Wisniewski on Republican Dirty Tricks
- The New Jersey Republican Party sent two staffers, including a former member of Governor Christie's staff, to stake out the New Jersey Education Association's parking lot to get video footage of their executive director.
- Star Ledger's Tom Moran said that Republican tactics like trying to ambush people with video cameras in parking lots hurts the dialogue on education reform.
- Chairman Wisniewski on the Republican tactics: "If we are to have a real discussion about how to educate our children, we must begin by behaving like adults. I call on Chris Christie to stop these disruptive tactics that would be rejected in a student council election and focus on these vital issues--and maybe our kids will even learn a lesson about how to have a civil political discourse in the process."
Port Authority Needs Reforms
- Assembly Transportation Committee is seeking subpoena power to try to get answers from Port Authority employees about how the agency is being run.
- The Port Authority is in desperate need of reforms to make sure it runs efficiently and sticks to its core mission instead of branching out into real estate development. Assembly Deputy Speaker Wisniewski, Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee, commented on the need for reform: “That’s what my committee would like to examine and what New York legislators want to look at: What does it take to fix the bistate agency, to return it to its roots as a transportation and good movement agency? I’m not sure why it is in the real estate business when its core mission is to move people and goods between the states.”
- Jameson Doig, an authority on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, contributed an op-ed to the New York Times where he calls for the Port Authority to restore integrity and stop functioning as a patronage mill for Chris Christie.
Shelley Adler Trying to Unseat John Runyan
Delegate Selection Applications Available
If you are interested in becoming a delegate, click here for the Statement of Candidacy and Pledge of Support Form. Statement of Candidacy and Pledge of Support forms must be returned by March 12, 2012 for District Level Delegate and Alternate Candidates and June 7, 2012 for At-Large delegate and Alternate Candidates and Pledged Party Leader and Elected Official (PLEO) Delegate Candidates. Original forms must be returned to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee at 196 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608.
- Senators Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez have introduced legislation to educate families about cardiomyopathy, which impacts an estimated 30,000 children.
- Senator Lautenberg blasted Republicans for obstructing the surface transportation bill, which would have created or maintained millions of jobs.
- Senator Menendez received a score of 100% from the American Association of University Women's Action Fund for his work on issues of importance to women and their families.
- Congressman Rob Andrews voted to extend the payroll tax cut to help 160 million middle class Americans.
- Congressman Frank Pallone, along with his colleague Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, has asked the Food and Drug Administration to set standards for the maximum allowable levels of dangerous heavy metals, including arsenic, in foods and beverages.
- Congressman Bill Pascrell has called on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to develop a method of writing down and refinancing underwater mortgages.
- Congressman Steve Rothman was thanked by the President and Trustees of Hudson County Community College for opposing cuts to Pell Grants.
- Congressman Donald Payne submitted a formal resolution to the House of Representatives to honor Whitney Houston.
- Congressman Rush Holt announced $3.6 million in federal funding to upgrade the Frenchtown Water Treatment Plant.
- Congressman Albio Sires announced a grant award for North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue.
- Senate President Sweeney has praised the Delaware Port Authority for approving $8.1 million for an environmental impact study for a project to extend light rail service from Camden to Glassboro.
- Assembly Speaker Oliver spoke about notable African-American women at a Black History Month event at New Brunswick Free Public Library.
- Senator Linda Greenstein's "Jessica Rogers Law", which will impose harsher penalties for road rage, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- Assembly members Albert Coutinho, Vincent Prieto, Troy Singleton, and Majority Leader Louis Greenwald introduced legislation to level the playing field between brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers, which could help Amazon.com move to New Jersey.
- Senator Fred Madden's bill to ensure sex offenders are registered with local authorities was approved by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
- Assemblywoman Celeste Riley called on parents, students, and school officials to educate themselves on norovirus to reduce the risk of outbreaks like the one seen recently that affected hundreds of college students in New Jersey.
- February 28
Assemblyman Wisniewski's Winter Cocktail Reception
Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel, 515 Route 1 and Gill Lane, Iselin
- February 28
Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders Black History Month Celebration
Freeholders Meeting Room, 401 Grand Street, Paterson
- February 29
Obama for America New Jersey Headquarters Grand Opening
542 Georges Road, 2nd Floor, North Brunswick
- February 29
Senator Nellie Pou's Annual Cocktail Reception
- March 1
Fundraiser for Senate President Steve Sweeney
Adelphia Restaurant, 1750 Clements Bridge Road, Deptford
Checks Payable To: Sweeney for Senate, 300 N. Marion Ave. Wenonah, NJ 08090
- March 3
East Orange Democratic Committee Jewels of the Community Hall of Fame Introduction Breakfast
Mayfair Farms, 481 Eagle Rock Avenue, West Orange
RSVP: Cassandra Alession at 201-457-9034
- March 5
Breakfast for Senator Whelan
The Town & Country Diner, 177 Route 130 North, Bordentown
Sponsors: $500, Hosts: $250
- March 7
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver's Cocktail Reception
RSVP: Jessica LanFranchi at 201-457-0590
- March 9-10
Ready to Run Campaign Training for Women
Douglass Campus Center, 100 George Street, New Brunswick
For More Information or to Register: www.cawp.rutgers.edu/ReadytoRun
- March 11
Somerset County St. Patrick's Party
Verve, 18 East Main Street, Somerville
- March 11
Hunterdon County Democratic Committee Spring Wine Tasting
Old York Cellars, 80 Old York Road, Ringoes
- March 15
Fundraiser for Assemblyman Dan Benson
Mastori's, Routes 130 & 206, Bordentown
- March 18
Hunterdon County Democratic Committee Pasta Dinner
Lambertville YMAC, 65 Wilson Street, Lambertville
- March 21
Somerset County Democratic Convention
Manville VFW, 600 Washington Avenue, Manville
- April 26
New Jersey Democratic State Committee Jefferson Jackson Dinner
The Heldrich, 10 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick
Support the New Jersey Democratic State Committee
We will continue to have updates about news and events from our elected officials and the many campaigns across the state. There will certainly be more to come next week. Have a great weekend.
John Wisniewski, Chairman
New Jersey Democratic State Committee