MY PRIORITIES:

 

1- RESHAPE THE MINDSET OF SPENDING IN TRENTON

For too long under both Republican and Democrat leadership, the mindset of Trenton politicans has been at what rate to raise taxes.  Of course, in another arena of life or business, that is a patently ridiculous approach.  What we should be asking is where we can cut a budget that now tops 32 billion dollars every year.  To sustain this level of spending, taxes keep skyrocketing.  Until we restore responsible spending practices, taxes will continue to rise.

2- NO GAS TAX INCREASE

Perhaps the only tax where New Jersey takes a lower levy than other states is our gas tax.  It is one of the lowest in the nation.  Legislative leaders have signaled that this is not acceptable and will likely seek a gas tax hike this upcoming year.  Here is the 27th district, commuters who need to drive to support their families will be hit hard by any such increase.  In tough economic times, the last thing our families need is Trenton politicians raiding our pockets one more time.

3- A REAL SOLUTION TO OUR PENSION OBLIGATION MESS

For decades, Trenton politicians made sweetheart deals with public employee unions that we as taxpayers were never going to be able to afford.  The result has been predictible- unfunded pension liabilities will balloon to over 54 billion dollars by 2018 with no end in sight.  In addition, the state's credit rating has been downgraded to the second lowest in the country, on par with Illinois and California (which are not states which we seek model ourselves after).

While I was not there while these deals were being made, I can focus on the future.  We need to accelerate a period of transition to more modest public pensions for new employees and ensure that individuals are not padding their payouts with late-career political employment gifts.  My opponents, Assemblyman McKeon and Assemblywoman Jasey, have made clear that despite the rather elementary math involved, that they are fine with the status quo.

4- GETTING OUT OF THE WAY OF SUCCESSFUL SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND A TECHNOLOGY OVERHAUL FOR STRUGGLING SCHOOLS

The 27th District is home to some of the finest public education districts in the state.  As a parent and as a legislator, I want to help these successful districts continue their work without oppressive mandates from state and federal agencies.  But our responsibility to educate our children also extends to underperforming districts around the state.  I am not of the opinion that throwing more money at poor districts will equal better results. If this were true, the problems in these districts would have been solved long ago.  It has been proven time and again that the way forward for underperforming districts is transitioning these classrooms to a high-technology, interactive experience.  The state needs to be an active partner in this endeavor.

I also strongly believe in the anti-bully movement that has caught hold all across the country.  Our children deserve nothing less than a stigma-free school zone that allows them to reach their full potential.

5- REAL ETHICS REFORM FOR THE LEGISLATURE

It's about time that we start asking more of our elected leaders in Trenton.  It's telling that McKeon and Jasey voted to install a State Assembly speaker with three public jobs, leading the Star-Ledger to say that "Assembly Speaker Prieto doesn't get it on ethics." (8/12/14).  We need more stringent conflict of interest standards and a ban on dual public employment for all members of the legislature.

6- SAYING NO TO THE PILGRIM PIPELINE

Recently, news that a two-way energy pipeline is seeking approval to run through Roseland, Livingston, East Hanover, Madison, and Chatham has galvanized these communities in opposition to the construction.  I join my friends and neighbors in this fight.  The owners of the pipeline have engaged in thuggish tactics to intimidate adjacent property owners without any legal foundation to construct a pipeline with no benefit to the people of our distict.  While I do believe that energy must be transported safely, doing so through densely-populated residential areas and environmentally sensitive wetlands is not the avenue to do so.

7- SECURING OUR COMMUNITIES IN AN UNSAFE WORLD

There is no easy way to say it: In the last two years communities in our district that have enjoyed low crime rates for years have sustained horrible tragedies that have shaken our confidence that our families are safe and secure.  Given our easy access to crime-ridden areas via proximity and highways, we must partner with our local departments to identify, seek out, and prosecute those that would do us harm.  I am a strong supporter of law enforcement and community policing, which allows individual officers to form a bond with specific neighborhoods.

 

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