Senator, 2008-present. Senate Majority Conference Leader. Former mgmt. consultant & textile manufacturer. Assemblyman, 2004-2008. Mayor/Councilman, Fair Lawn, 1986-1995. Authored book on NJ government
Property taxes will remain high until we do something about the fragmentation of local government. We have 565 municipalities and 618 school districts. Clearly, we have much duplication of services and those services are often provided on a small scale, at high cost. Merging jurisdictions, however, is very difficult because of our attachment to “home rule.” I have sponsored a number of measures that reduce the regulatory/financial impediments to consolidation initiatives. Short term, we can reduce property taxes by improving the fairness of school funding. The Legislature did that by enacting a major overhaul of the school funding formula. These changes will reallocate over $100 million in aid to hundreds of districts with some of the highest property tax burdens.
For decades, the State has been underfunding its pension payments and now faces an unfunded liability over $40 billion. I was the original sponsor of recently enacted legislation requiring quarterly pension payments, which will increase the funded ratio by $4B and save the state $10B over 30 years. However, the only way to fix the system is to ramp up to the full Actuarially Required Contribution within the next 5 years. I will vote to make sure that those contributions are made. I opposed the Christie plan to dedicate Lottery revenues to pensions as little more than an accounting gimmick. A better option is to negotiate less costly health benefits and dedicate the savings to pensions. These changes can include modifications to plan design and new approaches to the delivery of care.
Under Gov. Christie we lost ground by leaving the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and by failing to promote renewables. We should rejoin RGGI, advance the wind energy program already enacted but blocked by the Christie Administration, expand incentives for solar and raise the renewable requirement in our Renewable Portfolio Standard. However, we can't satisfy future energy needs even with a major expansion of renewables. If we want to reduce fossil fuel use, nuclear power must remain in the mix. We also need to protect our environment from the impact of fossil fuels. We should minimize the risks of oil transport by enacting new safety standards for oil trains. My legislation to do that was vetoed. I also sought to ban fracking in NJ and prohibit the transport of fracking waste.
New Jersey’s efforts to promote job growth are underperforming and are the most costly in the nation. As McKinsey recently reported, we spend $161,000 for each job created compared with the national average of $69,000. We need a new approach that focuses on four drivers of job growth: (1) investments in workforce development aimed at retaining millennials and improving mid-level job skills; (2) Investments in transportation infrastructure to improve the movement of people and cargo; (3) Improved financing/incentives for young, mid-sized businesses that are the source of most new jobs (rather than the current focus on large, mature firms); and (4) Improved incentives for high growth industries already based in New Jersey such as life sciences, IT, and transportation/logistics.
Water Infrastructure--NJ is facing a water shortage and fails to manage supplies efficiently. We lose massive amounts through aging pipes. I will propose incentives to upgrade distribution systems and increase the use of recycled water for non-drinking purposes. College Loans--The state fails to assess the ability of families to manage debt and engages in predatory practices when borrowers fall behind. We need to permit more flexible repayment options, and by relying on state funds rather than Wall Street, student borrowers would have priority over investors. Reform of NJ Transit--My hearings on the decline of NJT have revealed a need for greater transparency and accountability. I will draft legislation similar to my Port Authority reforms that will make decision-making more visible.
BS in Biomedical Engineering
New Milford Councilwoman
Successful small business owner
Past President of the New Milford Education Foundation
Married Mother of four children
I support a range of measures to provide the taxpayer with a semblance of predictability and stability in their property taxes. I would support the continuation of safeguards that have allowed our municipalities to operate within their means such as the 2% property tax cap. I would work to encourage consolidation and shared services. I would promote and work through plausible solutions to the school funding formula to further promote property tax relief and assistance to those schools in need of funding based on growth in their student population and special education needs. I would also use my private sector business experience to find excess in our state budget which in turn will also produce more accountability for items that are funded.
The most realistic path going forward is to keep up with 1/10th annual increments and deal with budget changes on an annual basis. I would like to place the emphasis on pension funding since it represents the hard work that has already been put in and should be funded. I am willing to consider all realistic proposals and see how it will affect our employees’ as well as the residents’ of the state.
New Jersey can meet energy needs while protecting our environment by limiting reliance on nuclear power, energy assistance for low-income people, and increasing use of renewable energy sources. New Jersey’s Renewable Portfolio Standard and the state’s Energy Master Plan set the goal of having 22.5% of electricity sold in New Jersey come from renewable energy sources by 2020. Also, 2.5% of energy is required to come from solar generation. I support incrementally increasing the renewable source goal/requirement in the coming years to further reduce the environmental impact and the Federal and state voluntary programs providing financial incentives for the purchase of energy efficient heating and cooling systems, building more efficient homes or making energy efficiency improvements.
Promoting job growth in the New Jersey is a fundamental component to making the state more affordable. Eliminating over-burdensome regulations that inhibit growth and providing incentives for growth are paramount. I opened my business when I was 22 years old, and created my first job when I was 25 years old. I have experienced how difficult it is to navigate the regulations of operating your business and creating profit with the state dipping their hands in your pocket at every turn. The corporate business tax has raised well over 15 times since I have opened my business. The state needs to create a conduit between federal incentives and state incentives. We further deter business by overtaxing the purchase and sale of commercial properties with the millionaire tax and realty transfer fee
1.School funding formula-Overhauling the formula and moving towards comprehensive education reform.2.Health care reform-The best way to lower premium sharing is to lower the cost of the plan the premium supports and work on healthcare reform on the benefit and carrier level. It is essential for the Plan Design Committee for the SEHBP/SHBP to review the reforms and consider more ideas to continue lowering costs.Reduction of certain benefits would reduce the self-funding component in theory however as the quality of care, networks, and reimbursements shift so does the amount, type, and form of care the employee is receiving, resulting in higher costs down the road.3.Social services-Reform can be achieved by prioritizing our budget to help those most in need.