TRENTON - Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff settles into a chair facing the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for the afternoon session.
This is going to be D's versus R's
"The sad reality is we don't have money for the programs people want," ranking state Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Boonton Twp.) says for the minority. "Massive deficit increases and gimmicks will not help New Jersey recover."
Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) now assumes the command position.
"Never has a sitting governor imposed a more onerous tax increase on the people of the State of New Jersey," says Sarlo, referring to the school and municipal aid cuts proposed by Gov. Chris Christie in his $29.3 billion budget.Read More >
TRENTON - State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) gavels to an end the first half of the state Senate Budget Committee's hearings today, thanking legislative budget officer David Rosen for his insights into Gov. Chris Christie's proposed $29.3 billion budget.
"To me the most dramatic part of his testimony was right there at the end, where he acknowledged that when you combine the governor's school aid cut, his municipal aid cut, and the removal of the property tax rebates, what it adds up to is a $2.8 billion cut in property tax relief," said Sarlo.
"I think that is just one of the most telling things about this proposed budget," adds the Bergen County budget committee chairman. "We just heard that from a highly respected source."
State Sen. Kevin O'Toole (R-Cedar Grove) comes up behind Sarlo and he's shaking his head.
"These guys all want to forget the last eight years," says the Republican senator. "You just can't shut the door on how we got here. These guys took us from a $22 billion to a $33 billion budget in eight years."Read More >
CAMDEN - Senate Budget and Appropriations Chairman Paul A. Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic, released the following statement after the second public budget hearing on the FY 2011 Budget, held today at Rutgers-Camden School of Law:
“Today we finished two days of public hearings, during which we heard from dozens of residents who expressed deep concerns about the potential impacts of the Governor’s proposed FY2011 budget.
“We are also concerned, and many, many questions remain.Read More >
PARAMUS – Today at Bergen County Community College in Paramus, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee held the first public hearing on the FY 2011 Budget, allowing New Jerseyans who will feel the impact of budget cuts to voice their concerns.
Committee members issued the following statements after listening to testimony from today’s hearing:
“Today, we’ve heard from local officials, health care advocates, education advocates, advocates for individuals living with disabilities and so many others about the severe impact of the Governor’s proposed FY 2011 budget,” said Senator Paul A. Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic, and Chairman of the Budget Committee. “One thing was made plainly clear through the hours of public testimony we heard today – the cuts that the Governor put on the table to balance the budget will mean drastic cuts to services that people depend on.Read More >
PARAMUS - They're an unlikely twosome at the front of the room: the ramrod Republican former Army captain from rural New Jersey and the fast-talking small town mayor from polyglot Bergen, but early in the budget process they have their doubts about Abbott School District funding.
"We want to know what the various scenarios are, what are the numbers exactly, because the cuts to the suburban schools as proposed are so devastating," state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D--Wood-ridge), chair of the budget committee, told PolitickerNJ.com. "I'm going to put in the request today to the governor's office."
State Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Washington Twp.) likewise wants a deeper probe of Abbott School District appropriations before he affirms Gov. Chris Christie's $28.3 billion 2011 budget as proposed.
"If you look at the percentage of money for Abbott schools last year, it was 55.6%, and this year's proposal is 60.2%," said Doherty in a committee hearing break, moments after conferring with Sarlo.
"At worst, we expected that percentage to stay the same - but a nine percent increase?" asked Doherty, from Warren County. "I have concerns. Questions. My school districts have been lean and mean for years. I don't have $5 million for athletic fields. When people want fields and parking lots, the road department gets their equipment and builds it for free."
Doherty argues that too much fear of consitutional backlash pervades decisions regarding Abbott School funding. "Abbott's been riding high on the hog for years," he said.Read More >
PARAMUS - Up for re-election this year as freeholder in what promises to be a countywide donnybrook here in Bergen, Demarest Mayor James Carroll stakes out his positon as an antagonist to Gov. Chris Christie's budget and a proponent of renewing the millionaire's tax to help the state through its present fiscal crisis.
"The governor wants the $2,000 a year I make as mayor? Tell him to give me a call - it's his," said Carroll, who makes an additional $29,000 and change as chairman of the freeholder board.
"We don't do this because we want to make money," he added. "We do this because we want to serve our communites."
As for Christie's budget proposal - which would eliminate $1.5 million from the Demarest school system and regional high school and $142,000 in municipal aid - "it puts us on life support," said the mayor, moments after testifying before the Senate Budget Committee at Bergen Community College.
"I know times are tough," he said. "I know we're in a crisis that is beyond Democrat and Republican at this point. But we shouldn't be cutting aid to a community life preserver like this college while allowing the millionaire's tax to sunset."Read More >
PARAMUS - Gov. Chris Christie's budget proposal to scrap Blue Laws in Paramus to bring in more tax revenue from shopping isn't the only thing that brings Mayor James Tedesco to the front of the room here at Bergen Community College, where he bashes the FY 2011 proposal from all angles.
"It's an unfortunate decision," he says, referring to what he descries as disproportionate school aid cuts. "These cuts will increase class sizes and reduce teaching staff."
Then there's the $1 million reduction in municipal aid, which the mayor says would put constraints on staff even as the governor simultaneously wants to repeal the Blue Laws to allow Sunday shopping.
"That will mean more police, more ambulances, more services," says Tedesco, his voice rising. "Ladies and gentlemen, the governor needs to relook at this budget."Read More >
PARAMUS - The theater shifts from the front line in Trenton to the front line in Bergen today, where state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) presides as appropriations chairman for a statewide hearing on Gov. Chris Chris Christie's proposed 2011 budget.
"A total coincidence," says Sarlo, when asked about the symbolic import of kicking off these budget hearings in his home county, which happens to be the crucible for a contentious county executive's race, where Democrats are trying to hold onto power in the face of a Christie-infused GOP.
Dems say Christie's state funding cuts - including $821 million statewide to schools and $445 million to muncipal aid - have brought their party off the cold slab just in time to fight off County Clerk Kathleen Donovan, a Republican intent on taking the seat of County Executive Dennis McNerney.
"We scheduled this a while ago, and it's just a coincidence that the governor's budget hit Bergen the hardest, in terms of cuts to municipal and school aid and then the Blue Laws," says Sarlo as he heads to the front of the room here at Bergen Community College.
The senators take their seats and Sarlo begins the hearing.
"We'll have an opportunity at some point today hopefully to talk about just Bergen issues with a group separately," says the budget chairman.Read More >
TRENTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee has Labor Commissioner nominee Hal Wirths under the interrogation lamps here at the Statehouse Annex, and state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) immediately goes after the Bergen County Blue Law issue.
"I was open Sundays," banker and former small business owner Wirths tells Sarlo when asked if he favors Gov. Chris Christie's budget proposal to repeal Blue Laws for Sunday shopping in Bergen.
"You would support repeal of Blue Laws in Bergen County?" Sarlo asks.
"I'm a home rule guy so I would have to give it some thought," says Wirths. "I haven't given much thought to the Bergen County Blue Law. I don't want to give a shoot from the hip answer.
"I'm not a legislator or a senator... but I think it makes sense," he adds.
Sarlo sits up in his chair.Read More >
State Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest) says the Bergen County Democratic Organization (BCDO) is in the decaying stages of an often troubled and sometimes tortured tenure that makes its members' sudden racing pulses in the wake of Gov. Chris Christie's budget address but a faint and misplaced stir of energy that will hardly catapult Bergen Executive Dennis McNerney's past Republican challenger Kathleen Donovan.
Assessing the aftermath of Christie's budget rollout, which would ax $21,120,868 in state aid out of suburban Bergen County, Cardinale said the taxpayers he encounters "are pleased as punch."
"If the (BCDO) thinks this budget is unpopular, they're whistling past the graveyard," said the veteran GOP senator. "This budget is unpoplar only with a small segment of the Democratic Party. Rank and file Democrats - they like it. They would favor it because they're sick of the taxes. Christie has done a remarkable job."
Cardinale said what he expected would have been former Gov. Jon Corzine's plan - raising the sales tax by two cents and imposing an across -the-board income tax increase - would have simply perpetuated New Jersey's fiscal crisis. And he doesn't think Christie's just staking out an extreme position with a declaration of deep cuts, that he could walk back in negotiations with the Democratic Party-controlled legislature.
"I don't think the governor will give ground on a tax," he said, specifically referring to the millionaire's tax, which Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) wants to reinstate before signing onto many of the governor's proposed cuts.Read More >
We are privileged to run today an opinion piece by Jeff Brindle, executive director of the state Election Law Enforcement Commision (ELEC). In the piece, Brindle lays out a blueprint for how to make party organizations stronger in order "to stave off the ever-growing influence of outside groups."Read More >
'We believe in redemption': Roque heads into 2015 with full backing of the HCDO WEST NEW YORK – When local pain specialist Dr. Felix Roque delivered U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) from discomfort and restored him to the golf course, the congressman in return indulged the political fancies of...
By Jeff Brindle An August 15, 2014 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Chesler reaffirmed the place of political parties in the State’s electoral system. By rejecting arguments that unaffiliated voters should have a right to vote in... Read More >
"I think he was an army general, what was he?" - state Sen. Nick Sacco (D-32)- PolitickerNJ
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