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Senate President Sweeney on NJ Pensions: “We can’t grow our way out of it, we can’t tax our way out of it, and it won’t go away by ignoring it”

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

East Windsor NJ, Continuing to advocate for the fiscal and economic reforms needed to avert future financial crises, Senate President Steve Sweeney spoke at the joint New Jersey Business and Industry Associations (NJBIA) and New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce policy forum today where he emphasized the economic value of bringing fiscal reforms to public finances.

Senator Sweeney participated in “Meet the Decision Makers,” an event that features key New Jersey policy figures. Senator Sweeney spoke about the “Path to Progress” report issued by the 25-member study group that provides a working blueprint to achieve the operational and structural reforms needed to restore financial stability and affordable government.

Continue reading Senate President Sweeney on NJ Pensions: “We can’t grow our way out of it, we can’t tax our way out of it, and it won’t go away by ignoring it”
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“Path to Progress” First Step in Putting New Jersey’s Fiscal House In Order and Avoiding Pension Apocalypse

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, The legislative introduction of the fiscal reforms and cost saving initiatives from the “Path to Progress” report has already generated widespread support from an array of individuals and organizations throughout New Jersey, including:

“The state of New Jersey faces short and long term challenges. I was pleased to be part of the ‘Path to Progress’ team as several of our recommendations will significantly improve the fiscal health of the state – particularly those related to employee pension and health benefits, and school consolidation. Of particular note – even with the pension reforms – no current retiree or those employees already vested will be negatively impacted.” – Richard F. Keevey, former Budget Director and Comptroller for the State of New Jersey, former CFO, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and former Deputy Under Secretary for Finance, U.S. Department of Defense

Continue reading “Path to Progress” First Step in Putting New Jersey’s Fiscal House In Order and Avoiding Pension Apocalypse
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Sweeney Blasts CWA Leader on Mischaracterization of Fiscal Reforms

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Senate President Steve Sweeney today challenged the mischaracterizations of his proposed fiscal reforms by Hetty Rosenstein, the New Jersey area director for the Communications Workers of America, saying that her descriptions of the substance and impact of the proposals in the “Path to Progress” report are “flat out wrong.”

“Ms. Rosenstein is doing a disservice to the taxpayers and to public employees with her false characterizations of the reforms needed to restore integrity to public finances and prevent a future fiscal meltdown,” said Senator Sweeney. “Our hybrid pension plan will improve the fiscal stability of the pension system for current and retired public employees and save billions of dollars for taxpayers and the state budget.

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Senate President Steve Sweeney: “We have to face up to the reality of the deep fiscal crisis we are facing”

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

New Brunswick NJ,  Speaking at a public policy forum at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics, Senate President Steve Sweeney discussed the cost-cutting reforms in the “Path to Progress” report, including those that will produce savings and efficiencies for municipalities, county governments, local school districts and their employees.

Continue reading Senate President Steve Sweeney: “We have to face up to the reality of the deep fiscal crisis we are facing”
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NJ Budget Prognosis is Not Good

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

TRENTON NJ, With revenues falling below expectations and spending holding steady, the state is in catch-up mode once again.  Governor Murphy is scheduled to give his budget message on Tuesday, and his administration has been sanguine about New Jersey’s revenue shortfall.  Assemblyman John DiMaio, the Republican budget officer, is not in denial – saying the prognosis is not good.

Continue reading NJ Budget Prognosis is Not Good
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Senate President Steve Sweeney Says Its Time to Confront the State’s Mounting Fiscal Problems

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Glassboro NJ,  Speaking at a policy forum last night, Senate President Steve Sweeney talked about the need to confront the state’s mounting fiscal problems and warned that New Jersey won’t be able to make critical investments in education, transportation, higher education and social services unless it enacts major structural reforms to address the looming budget crisis fueled by runaway pension and benefit costs.

Continue reading Senate President Steve Sweeney Says Its Time to Confront the State’s Mounting Fiscal Problems
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Government Wage Mandates Are Bad for New Jersey’s Economy

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By Tony Russo, CIANJ President

Ridgewood NJ, There has been a lot of discussion recently on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.  Governor Murphy would like to see $15 an hour this year but the Legislature introduced a bill which would phase in the increase over several years.  The reason given for increasing the minimum wage is the high cost of living in New Jersey.

What is missing from the current discussion are the reasons why New Jersey has such a high cost of living. The major reasons for such a high cost of living are the taxes and fees paid by New Jersey’s residents and businesses.  Property taxes, sales taxes, fuel taxes, income taxes, the corporate business tax — New Jersey is a heavily taxed state.   Also absent from the discussion is why $15 an hour would somehow make New Jersey affordable.

Government needs to appreciate that most private sector jobs in New Jersey are with small businesses.  These business owners take on risks daily as competition is fierce. Most work hard to make ends meet but unfortunately some do not survive.

Employees are a business’ number one resource and keeping good talent is a top priority.  An hourly wage is just one part of how a business compensates employees.  Many offer fringe benefits including paid time off, healthcare insurance, 401(k) contributions, short- and long-term disability, bonuses and life insurance.  When the Legislature focuses on only the hourly rate and not the total compensation paid, it is not reflective of the total amount spent by employers.

More importantly, Trenton lawmakers should not look toward the private sector to make New Jersey affordable but rather look inward to reduce the size of government and make New Jersey a business-friendly State.  New investment will create new jobs, more competition and innovation which in turn will improve the quality of life of residents as well as increasing the coffers of the state government. This would reduce the current pressure on New Jersey’s existing businesses.

A government wage mandate on the private sector is the wrong approach and will only lead to higher prices and job losses, ultimately hurting the very people they are trying to help.  Finally, New Jersey voters already weighed in on this matter in 2013 when they approved an amendment to the state constitution tying any increases to the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index or CPI.By Tony Russo, CIANJ President

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Assemblywomen Schepisi says ,”NJ may be only State that needs to build a wall to keep residents in”

photo Building the Berlin Wall in 1961

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Westwood NJ, Assemblywomen Holly Schepisi‏  said on twitter , “Governor Murphy’s top NJ priorities for 2019 are increasing minimum wage and legalizing pot. What about crushing property taxes? What about huge outflux of our residents to cheaper states? What about NJ’s $195.5 BILLION financial hole? What about fairness for the middle class?”

Garden State Initiative chimed in , “an @AsburyParkPress analysis by @scervenka finds the avg NJ property tax bill has doubled in 20 yrs far exceeding income growth. Will @GovMurphy address this in his State of the State? https://www.app.com/story/news/investigations/data/analysis/2019/01/15/nj-property-taxes-double/2474323002/ … “

Holly Schepisi concluded the discussion ,”Not one mention of any initiative to combat high property taxes, unaffordability or exodus from the State. We may be only State that needs to build a wall to keep residents in. @GovMurphy @NJAssemblyGOPhttps://twitter.com/gsi_newjersey/status/1085150245934325760 …  “

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NJ Fiscal Crisis Deepens: Department of the Treasury Reports Tax Collection Shortfall of 10.1 %

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, The Department of the Treasury reported that December revenue collections for the major taxes totaled $2.973 billion, down $335 million, or 10.1 percent below last December.  However, year-to-date, total collections of $12.901 billion are up $269 million for FY 2019, 2.1 percent above the same period last year.

The dip in overall December collections is due primarily to a drop in Gross Income Tax (GIT) receipts, which are constitutionally dedicated to the Property Tax Relief Fund.  GIT receipts were down 35.2 percent from last December with $1.182 billion collected while year-to-date collections were down 6.5 percent with $5.667 billion collected.  This dip is attributed to federal tax law changes that created a shift in tax planning behavior, a pattern that is being reported in a number of states.

Last December’s GIT collections, which rose by 30.5 percent, were enhanced by certain one-time hedge fund payments made because of a federal tax deadline, as well as accelerated tax payments made in December 2017 in order to avoid the new federal cap on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, which took effect in January 2018.  Additionally, the capped federal SALT deduction may have prompted a change in tax planning behavior this year because it eliminated the incentive to prepay the estimated fourth quarter payment in December, which is due January 15.  While this last factor may have reduced December GIT receipts, it also may increase January receipts.

The Sales and Use Tax, the largest General Fund revenue source, reported $788.1 million in December, up 5.4 percent.  Year-to-date, sales tax collections of $3.982 billion are up 1.2 percent from the same period last year.  The second step of the sales tax rate reduction that began on January 1, 2018 will continue to impact collections for one more month, through the January revenue report.  If not for the rate reduction, underlying growth in the sales tax through December would be 5.0 percent.

The Corporation Business Tax (CBT), the second largest General Fund revenue, brought in $596.1 million, 40.9 percent above last December.  Year-to-date, the CBT has collected $1.536 billion, or 60.8 percent above last year.  The CBT for banks and financial institutions is up 247.8 percent so far in FY 2019 spurred in part by strong bank profits.  In FY 2019, corporate tax revenues are expected to grow significantly due to substantial state and federal tax policy changes that influence the tax base and the timing of certain payments.

Casino Revenues of $119.0 million are running 20.3 percent ahead of last year through the end of December.  Sports betting has contributed $4.6 million to the Casino Revenue Fund and another $3.1 million to the General Fund through November.

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Reader says, The first rule of government is: “Embrace the status quo.”

The first rule of government is: “Embrace the status quo.”

Why? Well, the answer is simple: a lifetime appointment to a cushy job, with the added bonus of a pension.

Unlike the private sector, these people can’t be fired (unless they REALLY screw the proverbial pooch).

Why on earth would they make sweeping changes to satisfy the very people (the taxpayers) who make it possible for them to hold those cushy positions in the first place?

The majority of these government workers have no interest in the private sector because they would be held truly accountable. Instead, they don’t upset the apple cart and they milk that cow as for long as possible…

And, to the Federal employees who aren’t earning paychecks right now: quit moaning you greedy, self-serving bastards! Consider it a extended *paid* vacation courtesy of the taxpayers! Where can I get that deal?!?