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Opposition to Dems’ Redistricting Scheme to Rig Elections Holds Strong

Phill Murphy -Sara Medina del Castillo

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, TOMORROW, Thursday, Dec. 13, New Jersey Democrats will hold public hearings on a constitutional amendment that would disenfranchise millions of voters. The legislation, SCR-43, would make cataclysmic changes to New Jersey’s legislative redistricting process. 

The Assembly and State Senate hearings will both be held at 11 a.m. in Committee Room 11 and Committee Room 4, respectively, in the Statehouse Annex, making it cumbersome for the many who are opposed to testify on the record.

Not a single expert witness or group testified in favor of SCR-43 during a Nov. 26, 2018 committee hearing on the constitutional amendment.

In the weeks that have followed, dozens of nonpartisan election experts, editorial writers, and advocates from across the political spectrum have joined the chorus of opposition to this effort to disenfranchise our democracy.

Here’s what else they’re saying….

“This has been a classic throw something out in the proverbial backrooms. It’s completely unacceptable,” Governor Phil Murphy (Insider NJ, Nov. 27, 2018)

“It’s the most undemocratic solution possible,” he said. “It’s bizarre. You have supporters of the bill being incredibly disingenuous about giving voters greater choice.” – Patrick Murray Monmouth University Polling Institute (NJ Spotlight, Dec. 12, 2018)

“This has the potential to undermine our voting rights. The result could favor one party over the other.” – Jeanne LoCicero, ACLU of New Jersey. (NJ Spotlight, Dec. 12, 2018)

“What Democrats in Trenton really want is a permanent majority, and they’re trying to rig the state Constitution to provide it,” Wall Street Journal Editorial Board (Dec. 3, 2018)

“This is undemocratic. Voters should be choosing their politicians — not the other way around.” – Helen Kioukis, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey (Nov. 26, 2018)

“Such a map would create an artificial, evenly-distributed advantage for the majority party. This would drastically reduce the number of seats for the minority party in a way most New Jerseyans would consider to be unfair,” Brian Williams, Princeton University Gerrymandering Project (Nov. 26, 2018)

“By focusing on partisanship and treating communities of interest, and communities of color in particular, as an afterthought, the proposed constitutional amendment is an unacceptable step backwards for New Jersey. We will not go back. Passage of this proposal will virtually ensure the voting power of communities of color will be diluted for decades to come. We successfully opposed this ill-conceived measure before, and we are doing so again today,” Richard Smith, the New Jersey Chapter of the NAACP. (Joint Statement, Nov. 27, 2018)

“It is at best an unproved assumption, and at worst a mistaken one, that voters always vote for the same party’s candidate whether for President or for State Assemblyman. Especially in New Jersey, where state legislative elections are not held in the same year as federal elections, uncritically imposing the results of one election on the process for an entirely different election is ‘mixing apples and oranges.’ As a general matter, requiring that districts be drawn on order to favor one political party, or even both major political parties, is contrary to sound redistricting practice, and enables partisan gerrymandering.” – Ronald K. Chen, Center for Law and Justice (Letter to Sen. Paul Sarlo, Nov. 23, 2018)

“SCR43 would constitutionalize a redistricting process for New Jersey that elevates partisanship over people, and prioritizes ‘competition’ over protecting the ability of communities of color to elect their candidates of choice. We cannot support this proposal. And we urge everyone who cares about the protection of our democracy’s ability to put people first—not partisanship—to join us in opposing SCR43.” – Ryan P. Haygood, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice Institute (Joint Statement, Nov. 27, 2018)

“Attempting to mandate political outcomes is not the best way to reform redistricting—and, in fact, could open the door to gerrymandering.” Yurij Rudensky, Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law (Joint Statement, Nov. 27, 2018)

“It is very difficult to see this as anything but a naked power grab by Democrats… This is not what Democracy is supposed to look like. The process is fatally flawed.. This doesn’t help create faith in government; it creates more distrust. ” – David Pringle, Clean Water Action (Nov. 26, 2018)

“So, what are state Senate Democrats doing now? They want voters to amend the state Constitution so that the independent commission would have to follow new rules that clearly favor Democrats. It’s a shameless stunt, and like all shameless stunts, they are rushing this through the Legislature at the last minute to short-circuit any discussion of the merits. On Monday, with Senate President Steve Sweeney cracking the whip, the budget committee approved the maneuver after a brief and superficial hearing before a mostly empty chamber. It was one of those Trenton moments that make you want to take a hot shower to wash away the stink.” Columnist Tom Moran as published in The Star-Ledger op-ed: “Stop the shameless power grab by N.J. Democrats” (Nov. 28, 2018)

“Promoting competition shouldn’t start with a virtual guarantee that 75 percent of the districts will be noncompetitive,” Asbury Park Press Editorial Board (Nov. 25, 2018)

“The way most people use the word “competitive” — if they are at all conversant in conversational English — and the way the sponsors of the proposed changes define the word “competitive” are worlds apart. Heck, they aren’t even in the same dictionary. […] They know you wouldn’t vote for the type of system they want if they described it honestly.” Patrick Murray, Monmouth University Polling Institute, as published in his Nov. 25 NJ.com op-ed, “Top N.J. pollster: Beware, Dems want you to vote for their redistricting scheme.”

“The constitutional amendment is worded in such a way as to pull the wool over voters’ eyes. This is Democrats being overly greedy for no good reason. It’s almost certain that they will do well with the next map and there are less egregious ways to prioritize the fairness metric. This just further erodes public trust in government for little actual gain.” – Patrick Murray, Monmouth University Polling Institute Director (Politico, Nov. 19, 2018)

Recently in the News…

12/12/2018 on NJ Spotlight“Opposition Lines Up as NJ Dems Keep Going With Vexed Redistricting Measure”“New Jersey Democrats are going ahead with two public hearings tomorrow on a measure to change the way the state draws its legislative district boundaries, a proposal that to date no independent group — and even some that typically back Democrats — considers better or fairer than the current system.”

12/12/2018 in New Jersey Globe“47 Groups Sign Letter Opposing Redistricting Amendment”
“The New Jersey League of Women Voters and 46 other groups, including a large number of liberal ones, on Wednesday sent New Jersey legislators a letter asking them to vote against the redistricting constitutional amendment being pushed by Democratic leaders in the legislature. “We urge you to stand up for democracy and for the people of New Jersey and vote “no” on these proposals that would lay the foundation for the extreme gerrymandering of New Jersey’s 40 legislative districts,” the groups said in the letter. “The manipulation of district boundary lines to favor one political party over another has no place in our State Constitution. New Jersey voters deserve a fair process and fair maps.”

12/9/2018 on NJ.com“All you need to know about that controversial, fast-tracked plan that could give N.J. Dems even more power
“Many liberal-leaning groups have spoken out. About a dozen activists held a news conference in Newark on Wednesday to lobby against the proposal — many of whom helped flip four Republican U.S. House seats last month. “We refuse to sit by and watch the Democratic party bosses further consolidate their power to have the ultimate leverage when it comes time to whip important votes,” said Sue Altman of South Jersey Progressive Women for Change. Yurji Rudensky of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law suggested this could “open the door to gerrymandering.”

12/1/2018 in The Philadelphia Inquirer: “To combat gerrymandering, N.J. Democrats propose drawing maps to entrench their power
“Bucking a national trend toward fighting gerrymandering by removing partisan politics from the process of drawing political maps, New Jersey Democrats are seeking to amend the state constitution in a way that would entrench their power in Trenton. The proposal has drawn sharp criticism from good-government groups, civil rights groups, and redistricting experts who warn it would allow Democrats to unfairly draw the state’s legislative districts in their favor. A group led by prominent national Democratic figures called it ‘a major step in the wrong direction.’”

11/27/2018 on NJ.com“After the legal weed drama came a classic Jersey power fight featuring, yes, backroom deals
“Critics warn it would ensure Democrats keep control of the state Legislature for decades. A slightly watered-down version of the proposal advanced out of a state Senate committee Monday night, fast-tracked on the first day after Thanksgiving weekend. But not before Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy defied members of his own party by voicing opposition to it earlier in the day. Not before lawmakers made multiple changes in backroom meetings (yep, there really is a back room) and continued to make alterations even after some votes were tallied. Not before Republicans, academics, and advocates continued to cry foul. And not before a woman in the crowd yelled that Democrats should be “ashamed” of themselves. In other words, it was one of those classic nights for Jersey power politics.”

11/27/2018 in Politico NJ Playbook:
“After a five-hour hearing and a two-hour break — when the once-packed committee room was nearly empty — the Senate budget committee took up and passed a redistricting amendment that would virtually ensure Democratic dominance for decades to come… Note that even though Democratic legislative leadership is pushing this , a vast array of groups — from Republicans to academics to even liberal organization like the Working Families Alliance, which three years ago pushed for a redistricting amendment — are against it. And even the way Democrats advanced it through committee was controversial.”

11/27/2018 on NJ Spotlight“DEMOCRATS PUSH CONTROVERSIAL REDISTRICTING OVERHAUL, CRITICS PUSH BACK”“The proposal was approved at the end of a marathon hearing during which critics wondered at the wisdom of such a proposal, particularly at this time. Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, questioned whether it was wise for lawmakers to advance the proposal in an era when the public is already deeply divided along partisan lines and as public trust in government is ‘pretty fragile at this point in time.’ But the strongest criticism came from Helen Kioukis, a program associate with the League of Women Voters, who labeled the proposed changes “undemocratic.” The hearing also contained a bizarre moment when some lawmakers’ votes were allowed to be recorded ahead of time despite a series of last-minute amendments being made; the lawmakers had apparently already left the State House.”

11/26/2018 on NJ.com: “N.J. Democrats have all kinds of power these days. This new plan of theirs could give them more.
“Two sources with knowledge of the situation said top Democratic lawmakers are trying to diminish the role of Democratic State Committee Chairman John Currie, a Murphy ally. State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, has frequently locked horns with both the chairman and the governor. The sources — who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive matters — said a plan to displace Currie as chairman went nowhere and the restricting proposal surfaced as another avenue to kneecap him.”

Additionally, on Dec. 11, 2018, the following 50 groups submitted letters to State legislators announcing their united opposition:

Action Together New Jersey
Allied for the American Promise
American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey
American Promise
Better Angels – Summit Chapter
BlueWaveNJ
Clean Water Action
Democracy for America, Essex County
Environment New Jersey
Faith in New Jersey
Food & Water Watch
Good Government Coalition of New Jersey (GGCNJ)
Housing and Community Development Network of NJ
Indivisible Cranbury
Indivisible Lambertville/New Hope
JOLT Ridgewood
League of Women Voters of New Jersey
Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry NJ
MomsRising
National Association of Social Workers – NJ Chapter
National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section
National Organization for Women of New Jersey
National Organization for Women – Northern New Jersey
Network for Responsible Public Policy
New Jersey Citizen Action
New Jersey Highlands American Promise Association
New Jersey Institute for Social Justice
New Jersey State Industrial Union Council
New Jersey Policy Perspective
New Jersey Work Environment Council
New Jersey Working Families Alliance
NJ Badass Teachers Association
NJ7 Forward
Our Revolution Essex County NJ
Our United Revolution New Jersey
Pinelands Preservation Alliance
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey
Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey
RepresentUs/Central New Jersey
Salvation and Social Justice
Seniors for a Democratic Society
South Jersey Women for Progressive Change
STAND Central New Jersey
TriCounty NJ Chapter of American Promise
Unitarian Universalist FaithAction NJ
Westfield 20/20
Women for Progress

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New Jersey Democrats Redistricing Bill characterized as a political scheme designed to cement a permanent Democratic majority, disenfranchising millions of New Jersey voters

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Rivervale NJ, Assemblywomen Holly Schepisi  claims New Jersey democrats are attempting to put forth a dangerous constitutional amendment which would essentially rig all future elections in this State. Bill number SCR 43, amends the New Jersey state constitution to change legislative redistricting, under the guise of making districts more competitive while in reality making them less competitive in perpetuity.

Continue reading New Jersey Democrats Redistricing Bill characterized as a political scheme designed to cement a permanent Democratic majority, disenfranchising millions of New Jersey voters

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After a $1.5 billion Tax Increase No Suprise NJ Ranked 50th in Tax Foundation’s 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index

Phil Murphy

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean said that $1.5 billion in tax increases imposed by New Jersey Democrats this year have cemented the Garden State’s last-place ranking in the Tax Foundation’s newly released 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index.

Continue reading After a $1.5 billion Tax Increase No Suprise NJ Ranked 50th in Tax Foundation’s 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index

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New Jersey Democrats push “Hail Mary” property tax legislation

trenton nj

 

February 24,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, New Jersey Democrats push “Hail Mary” saying that they will be moving ahead with a legally-dubious plan to let residents make charitable contributions in lieu of property taxes, promising to vote on the bill in the state Senate on Monday and threatening to take the fight to court if necessary.

The bill (S1893) is designed to be a workaround to the new federal tax law that capped the state and local tax deduction at $10,000, a move that Democrats say will harm high-tax states like New Jersey, which has the highest property taxes in the nation. Average property taxes in Bergen County in 2017 were $11,564 . The new Federal rules allow deductions of up to $10,000 . The $10,000 limit on deductions is for state and local taxes and will take effect in 2018. That $10,000 limit combines both local property and income taxes.

The legislation would effectively allow homeowners to keep deducting their property taxes by calling those payments charitable deductions. Under the bill, local governments would be permitted to set up charitable funds for specific public purposes—from police to parks—that residents could pay into and get a credit of up to 90 percent toward their property tax bills. Those contributions could then be written off as charitable deductions on federal tax bills, officials said. It’s unclear whether the plan withstands legal and IRS scrutiny.

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New Jersey Democrats , including Phil Murphy Reject  2% Police and Fire Arbitration Cap Dooming taxpayers to Huge Increases in Property taxes

Ridgewood Police

September 30,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, The  2% cap on the raises police and fire unions can win in arbitration saved property taxpayers nearly $3 billion and should be renewed before it expires in December, but Top Democrats in New Jersey including Phil Murphy, the party’s nominee for governor quickly rejected  the idea .

A report released on Thursday concluded the law limiting the raises that police and fire unions can win in arbitration should be renewed in an effort to keep property taxes in check.

From the executive summary …. in order to enable public employers to restrain increased costs within the 2% tax levy cap, public employers needed a tool to restrain increases to police and fire salaries, especially when labor disputes are submitted to interest arbitration. The data reviewed by the Task Force confirms that the 2% cap has provided that tool. Since the inception of the law, the average annual base salary increase provided in interest arbitration awards subject to the 2% cap is 1.85%. Even in voluntary settlements to which the 2% cap does not apply, the data confirms that the cap law has had a profound effect.

Indeed, the data shows that for interest arbitration cases subject to the 2% cap settled before an interest arbitration award was issued, the average annual increase to base salary was 1.80%. These numbers are a stark contrast to the average annual increases that were reported to PERC prior to the effective date of the 2010 amendments.2 Not surprisingly, with the right reforms in place, the rate of property tax growth in New Jersey has declined significantly.

While the cap law significantly reduced the growth of labor costs, the Governor Appointees have not uncovered any evidence that these reductions have negatively impacted crime rates or the ability of public employers to recruit qualified candidates for police and fire positions. In summary, the Governor Appointees conclude that the 2010 and 2014 amendments to interest arbitration have effectively addressed the concerns that were at the heart of this bi-partisan legislation. Accordingly, its recommendations set forth herein include the permanent continuation of the most critical elements of those amendments – namely, the procedural changes requiring expeditious resolution of all interest arbitration proceedings and the 2% cap – to ensure that the progress made over the last five years is not lost. (http://www.njassemblyrepublicans.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/2017-Governors-Appointees-Arbitration-Report.pdf )

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Kim Guadagno Hits Back Over Murphy Race Baiting

large_kim_guadagno_theridgewoodblog

September 3,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, while we have never been a strong supporter of Kim Guadagno , Phil Murphy (Corzine 2.0) is clearly a threat to many New Jerseyans livelihood . His big government tax and spend philosophy will chase any business out of New Jersey, leaving fewer people to carry the massive tax burden.  Murphy’s “Connecticut Scheme ” will have the same results as in Connecticut driving away the states largest employers and most productive individuals .

Worse yet in recent statements Murphy is appearing a bit desperate which seems odd for someone “up 29 points” in the polls.

Kim Guadagno  slapped back  at Murphy, “It’s a shame that Phil Murphy would stoop so low to hide his support for raising taxes by over $1.3 billion by getting involved in divisive and horrendous identity politics. Carlos and I have condemned racism and bigotry in all forms, and Phil Murphy knows it. His desperate race-baiting attacks to stir up fake outrage are beneath all of us as New Jerseyans, who value diversity, equality and love for each other.”

Murphy Race Baiting , “We are now seeing a disturbing trend emerge with Kim Guadagno and her campaign. Yesterday, she refused to criticize a sitting Assemblyman for posing with the Confederate flag, a symbol of bigotry and divisiveness. Today, we’ve learned that her choice for Lieutenant Governor, Woodcliff Lake Mayor Carlos Rendo, has been accused of systematic harassment and discrimination by the Chabad community in Woodcliff Lake. Yet, both times Lieutenant Governor Guadagno refused to criticize racist and anti-semitic speech despite the clear evidence.”

“Clear evidence.” really this guy is starting to sound like Al Sharpton quoting fake news , race baiting and obfuscating  his positions trying to hide the huge tax increases that will finally sink New Jersey economy once and for all  .

Kim Guadagno sums it up  ,”Murphy is taking the coward’s way out, ducking for cover behind the task force to avoid saying what he’s likely thinking, that he plans to reward those unions for their support by dumping the cap. New Jerseyans deserve to know where Murphy stands before November, and they have every reason to expect our would-be governor to have the courage explain his position.”

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New Jersey Democrats Move to Raise Taxes

Trenton_New_Jersey

TRENTON—State Democrats plan to advance budget bills Tuesday that raise taxes on high earners and corporate profits to shore up the state’s underfunded pension system, a proposal likely doomed because Republican Gov. Chris Christie has pledged to veto any tax increases.

The annual budget dance in Trenton typically leads to interparty fighting in June, but observers said that this year’s proceedings were particularly defined by gridlock, resulting in more political theater than fiscal negotiations.  (Haddon/Wall Street Journal)

http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-jersey-democrats-move-to-raise-taxes-1435020808

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New Jersey Democrats Push for Tax Increases to Cover Pension Shortfall

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New Jersey Democrats join court battle over Christie’s pension funding cuts

APRIL 20, 2015, 5:24 PM    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2015, 5:25 PM
BY SALVADOR RIZZO
STATE HOUSE BUREAU |
THE RECORD

Democratic leaders in the state Legislature joined the court battle over Governor Christie’s funding cuts to the New Jersey pension system on Monday, arguing in a legal brief that public workers have the law on their side as they seek an extra $1.57 billion than Christie authorized this year.

Christie, a Republican, signed a major overhaul of the state pension laws in 2011. Among other provisions, the law gave public workers stronger contracts with rights to full contributions from the state’s yearly budget to their pension funds, which are underfunded by $37 billion.

Three years after signing the law, Christie now argues it is unconstitutional. He has cut $2.4 billion from New Jersey’s legally required pension contributions, paying $1.38 billion instead of $3.8 billion over the last two years in a last-resort effort to balance the budget. The latest cut is under review by the New Jersey Supreme Court, which has scheduled a hearing May 6.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, both Democrats, submitted a five-page brief rebutting the central plank of Christie’s legal strategy. The 2011 pension overhaul is, in fact, constitutional, the lawmakers argue.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/new-jersey-democrats-join-court-battle-over-christie-s-pension-funding-cuts-1.1313571