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Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

Sen. Buono to hold public hearing on school cuts

Posted by edison1205 on January 19, 2011

Senator Barbara Buono, joined by 19th District Assemblymen Peter Barnes and Patrick Diegnan will hold a public hearing in Edison Thursday, Jan. 20, to give students, parents, teachers and residents an opportunity to share how the Governor’s $1 billion cut to public education has impacted their lives and their schools.  The hearing is at Edison High School and runs from 6:00 to 8:30 pm.

According to a press release from the Senator, she wants to get a better sense of the impact of Chris Christie’s public school cuts.  She wants to hear “about the impact of these cuts and feel their stories are vital in order to help gain a full appreciation of the consequences these cuts have had on education.”

Buono’s hearing will also touch on the state’s school funding formula, of which she was a key author.  The formula was not fully funded in this budget cycle, and the State Supreme Court has issued an order raising serious questions about whether this was proper.

Buono said that “all members of the public are invited to attend and share their stories for the public record.”

Who: Senator Barbara Buono, Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, Assemblyman Peter Barnes

What: Public hearing, “Coping with the Governor’s Education Cuts”

When: Thursday, January 20, 2011 from 6PM – 8:30PM

Where: Edison High School Auditorium
50 Boulevard of the Eagles
Edison, NJ 08817

Contact Info:

Office of Sen. Buono
(732) 205-1372

Digested from PolitickerNJ.com.

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Endorsement summary

Posted by edison1205 on October 28, 2010

EDISON BLOG’S ENDORSEMENT SUMMARY FOR THE 2010 ELECTION & VOTING INFORMATION

Congress, 6th District: Frank Pallone (D)

Congress, 7th District: Ed Potosnak (D)

County Sheriff: Keith Hackett (R)

County Clerk: Elaine Flynn (D)

County Freeholders, Richard Frank (R) and David Rosenthal (R).  No endorsement for the 3rd open seat.

Edison Township Council, 1 yr. unexpired term: Robert Karabinchak (D).

State Public Question (dedicated allocation of unemployment and disability funds): YES

Polls are open from 6am to 8pm.  If you don’t know where to vote, look up your polling place on your sample ballot.  Or use the polling place locator service found here: https://voter.njsvrs.com/PublicAccess/jsp/PollPlace/PollPlaceSearch.jsp.

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Endorsements for the 2010 Election: State Public Question

Posted by edison1205 on October 28, 2010

Aside from candidates, voters will also be asked to decide on a state public question that would bar the Legislature from reallocating money collected from employees and employers for unemployment and disability, to any purpose other than unemployment or disability.

The fact that we even need a constitutional amendment on this point is a shame in and of itself.  From 1992–2007, the legislature, with the approval of the governor, has passed laws 22 times to divert a total of $5.4 billion from these funds, collected from workers on the premise — and promise — that it would be used for their benefit in the case of unemployment or disability.  But this promise has been grossly violated time and time again, at the expense of working folks and their families.

Normally, we would not back the idea of putting budgetary decisions into the Constitution; generally, these calls have to be made from year to year by the annual budget law.  But legislatures and governors, from both parties have been so consistently irresponsible on this point, that the amendment is needed.  We recommend a YES vote on the State Public Question.

Fore more information, see the League of Women Voters analysis here.

Over the weekend will come the news you’ve all been waiting for: our endorsement for the Edison Council seat.

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Voter registration deadline

Posted by edison1205 on October 6, 2010

The deadline to register to vote in the upcoming election is October 12. The application must be turned into the municipal clerk, county clerk, or county elections board by that date, or it can be mailed in and will be accepted if postmarked by October 12.

If you live in Middlesex County, use this postage-prepaid application for English, this one for Spanish, this one for Chinese, and this one for Gujurati.

If you live elsewhere in New Jersey, consult this page (which is permanently posted year-round on the right side of our page) and determine the right county and language to use.

For other states, consult the U.S. Election Assistance Commission pages here.

Mail-in (absentee) ballots are also available.  There is NO EXCUSE not to vote in this election, which will be held on November 2, between 6am and 8pm.

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New: Recall Chris Christie

Posted by edison1205 on September 15, 2010

Some people and groups are advocating for the recall of N.J. Governor Chris Christie. Last April, we posted a Q&A about the recall process to give information about the process, but reserved judgment on whether a recall should occur. Today, after his visit to Edison, we are now convinced that a recall of Chris Christie as Governor is necessary and appropriate.

To put recall on the ballot requires about 1.3 million valid signatures from registered voters. So it cannot be done by a few scattered bloggers or activists. If it is to work, it needs to be backed by the NJEA or another group with similar statewide reach and resources. Even before the hard work of collecting signatures can begin, the advocates for this plan need to educate themselves about the process, because much of what we read on the Web about it is ignorant and misguided.

We have revamped the Q&A about the recall process, and an edited version appears below.

Q.        How much public support is there for a recall?

A.        That’s difficult to say. The most recent credible statewide poll says that 51% of the people approve of Christie’s performance, while 36% disapprove, but that doesn’t mean that all those people would support recall.  UPDATE: Christie’s numbers are down to 45-38 as of September 21.

Q.        Give me a quick overview of the recall process for Governor, please.

A.        Basically, after November 30, any 3 voters can organize themselves into a recall committee. They submit appropriate papers to the secretary of state, Kim Guadagno (who is also the Lieutenant Governor), and if everything is in order, she approves the format and collection of signatures can begin soon afterward. Petitioners have 320 days to collect about 1.3 million valid signatures from registered voters. If the signatures are validated, an election is then held on Christie’s recall. If he loses, his term ends immediately and Guadagno (in her role as lieutenant governor) becomes Governor until the term would have expired, in January 2014. There is no election for a successor.

Q.           Can a recall be done for any reason?

A.           Yes. Some people confuse recall with impeachment, but they are completely different processes. Impeachment requires proof to the satisfaction of the State Senate that a public official committed a “misdemeanor  . . . during their respective continuance in office.” Recall, on the other hand, can be done for any reason, or for no reason. And if reasons are given, they cannot be challenged in Court. The applicable part of the recall law, N.J.S.A. 19:27A-4 says:

No statement of reasons or grounds for the holding of a recall election or for the recall at such an election of an elected official shall be required in connection with the preparation or circulation of a recall petition, with the transmittal of any notice required under the provisions of this act, with the submission to the voters of the question of the recall of an elected official, or with any other action or procedure relating to such a recall, and to the extent that any such statement of reasons or grounds is offered by the sponsors of a recall petition or by any other person, the sufficiency of that statement shall be a political rather than a judicial question.

Q.        Let’s go through the mechanics of a recall in greater detail now.   How does the process begin?

A.        Initially, you have to remember that recall laws differ from state to state, and there are even variations within NJ depending on which office is at stake.

But the first step in any recall process in New Jersey is that a committee of 3 registered voters must file a notice of intention with recall election official who, for a gubernatorial recall, is the Secretary of State.

Q.        What is the earliest date that the notice of intention can be filed?

A.        Fifty days before the candidate’s first anniversary in office. For Christie, that’s November 30, 2010.  No signatures can be collected before that date, and no contributions for the recall committee can be solicited or collected before either (1) the statement of intention is filed or (2) in some circumstances, 30 days prior to that date.

Q.        How important is the membership of the recall committee?

A.        The members of the committee “represent the sponsors and signers of the recall petition in matters relating to the recall effort.” Therefore, these must be individuals with great personal integrity and moral stamina to see the process through. In fact, since signatures collected by one recall committee cannot be used by any other recall committee, it’s crucial that the committee members be organized in their work and irrevocably committed to the process.

Q.        What does the recall committee file with its statement of intention?

A.        Among other things, the recall committee can — but is not required to — file a 200 word statement that lays out its case as to why the person should be recalled. If they do so, the officeholder also gets a 200 word reply, all of which goes on the petition. Accordingly, the recall committee would need to make a strategic decision about whether to give reasons or not. I would not support it-it clutters the petition and is probably unpersuasive when put in a voter’s face during a signature drive.

Q.           Where can I find forms that illustrate how to properly fill out a recall petition in NJ?

A.            At the state elections webpage, http://www.njelections.org/recall-election/recall-election-petition-090109.pdf.

Q.           I have a crazy idea! I want to use the forms used to recall Gray Davis as California governor a few years back. That recall was successful! Can I use such forms from other states?

A.            NO! Your idea is crazy. Use the New Jersey form. The laws of other states are different, and if you use those forms you will likely be rejected!

Q.        Once the Secretary of State approves the recall committee’s paperwork, what happens?

A.        Circulators go out and collect signatures from registered voters. Because Governor is a statewide office, circulators have 320 days.  State law indicates that while circulators may be paid, each circulator must be a registered voter of New Jersey and actually sign the petition.

Q.           With the power of the Internet, this shouldn’t be that difficult, right?

A.            Wrong! Only original signatures, on a validated petition form, are acceptable. Electronic signatures, emails, e-petitions, and the like do not count.

Q.        How many signatures must be collected?

A.        25 percent of all registered voters in New Jersey. While this number fluctuates over time, there are about 5.2 million names on the list of registered voters. Therefore, there would need to be about 1.3 million valid signatures collected. Most petition drives collect an extra safety margin of about 30 percent, meaning organizers would have to get close to 1.6 million.

Q.        Yikes! That’s a lot of names.  Can they be from any part of the State?

A.        Yes.  Unlike some jurisdictions, NJ does not prescribe any geographical distribution for signatures.

Q.        Getting all those signatures seems like a lot of work. Is it really feasible to pull it off?

A.        It will be extremely difficult.  To understand the magnitude, New Jersey is divided up into about 6,400 election precincts averaging 800-850 voters each. Petitioners would need an average of about 250 signatures from each such neighborhood.

Also, Christie got about 1.17 million votes in the 2009 election and Corzine got about 1.08 million. To be successful, petitioners would need more signatures than the number of votes either candidate received.

Put yet another way, if the recall proponents had 1,600 active canvassers, each one would be responsible for 1,000 unique names.  By any measure, it would be a massive and costly undertaking.

And that just gets you to the ballot-then you actually have to campaign to pass the recall.

But Chris Christie has acted aggressively against, and inflicted damage upon, local schools, transit riders, college students, property tax rebate recipients, seniors, people with disabilities, and others.  The damage to the middle class has been substantial, and it’s advisable for citizens to respond with the best legal means available: recall.

For a good summary of the arguments against recall articulated by a progressive blogger, “Deciminyan,” read here: http://www.deciminyan.org/2010/03/dont-impeach-chris-christie.html. Another argument that has been made if that either the petitioning or the actual recall election is unsuccessful, that will backfire by emboldening Christie. I respect, but do not agree with, those arguments, but still want those views heard along with mine.

Q.        Is there any group that has the knowledge and geographic breadth to pull off such a large undertaking?

A.        Since New Jersey does not have statewide I&R, and no credible group has attempted a recall of a statewide officeholder, there are basically no people here with both knowledge of New Jersey and the knowledge of how to pull off a statewide petitioning campaign.  There are professionals from states that have I&R like California and Florida who could be engaged to help.  But the Democratic Party is very anemic in certain parts of the State, so another group that has true statewide reach, along with the motivation to do this, would be necessary.

Q.        Did you have such a group in mind?

A.        The only such group I can think of is the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Other unions or union coalitions might also be able to pull it off. Unfortunately, none of them have said what plans, if any, they have to push recall.

Q.        Assuming all the signatures ultimately get collected, what happens then?

A.        The signatures are turned in and checked for validity by the Secretary of State. If validated, she then schedules a recall election for a certain date according to a legal formula that takes into account when the petition was validated, and whether the petition sought the option of a special recall election.

Q.        At the election, what happens?

A.        The only recall-related question on the ballot will be whether the Governor should be recalled.  A majority (50 percent plus 1) is required to win the recall.  Unlike the procedure for other recalls in New Jersey or procedures in other states, there is no simultaneous election for a successor.  Rather, if the recall is successful, the Lieutenant Governor immediately becomes Governor.

Q.        Where can I find more information?

A.        You can read the recall statutes at N.J.S.A. 19:27A-1 to -18.  They can be found at www.njleg.state.nj.us, clicking on “statutes,” and entering the number of the law you want to look for, in quotes.

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Recall Christie Q&A

Posted by edison1205 on April 14, 2010

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR THE MOST RECENT UPDATE OF THIS INFORMATION.

Some people and groups are advocating for the recall of N.J. Governor Chris Christie.  Here are some questions and answers about this recall movement.

Q.        Why are people expressing interest in a recall of Christie?

A.        Particular motives vary, but there is a great deal of anti-Christie sentiment caused by his proposals for cuts to the education budget and other programs.

Q.        How much public support is there for a recall?

A.        That’s difficult to say. The most recent statewide poll says that 33% of the people approve of Christie’s performance, while 63% disapprove, but that doesn’t mean that all those people would support recall.

Looking at the Web, sentiment seems to be against Christie. For example, the largest anti-Christie Facebook group, “NJ Against Chris Christie” has 36,000 members, while the largest pro-Christie group, the “Governor Chris Christie Fan Page” has only 8,000.

Q.        Give me a quick overview of the recall process, please.

A.        Basically, after November 30, any 3 voters can organize themselves into a recall committee. They submit papers to the the secretary of state, Kim Guadagno (who is also the Lieutenant Governor), and if everything is in order, collection of signatures can begin soon afterward. Petitioners have 320 days to collect about 1.3 million signatures from registered voters. If the signatures are validated, an election is then held on Christie’s recall. If he loses, his term ends immediately and Guadagno (in her role as lieutenant governor) becomes Governor.

Q.        Let’s go through the mechanics of a recall in greater detail now.   How does the process begin?

A.        Initially, you have to remember that recall laws differ from state to state, and there are even variations depending on which office is at stake.

But the first step in any recall process in New Jersey is that a committee of 3 registered voters must file a notice of intention with the Secretary of State.

Q.        What is the earliest date that the notice of intention can be filed?

A.        Fifty days before the candidate’s first anniversary in office. For Christie, that’s November 30, 2010.  No signatures can be collected before that date, and no contributions for the recall committee can be solicited or collected before either (1) the statement of intention is filed or (2) in some circumstances, 30 days prior to that date.

Q.        How important is the membership of the recall committee?

A.        The members of the committee “represent the sponsors and signers of the recall petition in matters relating to the recall effort.” Therefore, these must be individuals with great personal integrity and moral stamina to see the process through. In fact, since signatures collected by one recall committee cannot be used by any other recall committee, it’s crucial that the committee members be organized in their work and irrevocably committed to the process.

Q.        What does the recall committee file with its statement of intention?

A.        Among other things, the recall committee can — but is not required to — file a 200 word statement that lays out its case as to why the person should be recalled. If they do so, the officeholder also gets a 200 word reply, all of which goes on the petition. Accordingly, the recall committee would need to make a strategic decision about whether to give reasons or not.

Q.        Once the Secretary of State approves the recall committee’s paperwork, what happens?

A.        Circulators go out and collect signatures from registered voters. Because Governor is a statewide office, circulators have 320 days.  State law indicates that while circulators may be paid, each circulator must be a registered voter of New Jersey and actually sign the petition.  Some court decisions in other states have invalidated similar restrictions on petition circulators there, so it’s an open question whether these restrictions are Constitutional.

Q.        How many signatures must be collected?

A.        25 percent of all registered voters in New Jersey. While this number fluctuates over time, there are about 5.2 million names on the list of registered voters, out of the 5.8 million adult citizens who are eligible to register. Therefore, there would need to be about 1.3 million valid signatures collected. Most petition drives collect an extra safety margin of about 30 percent, meaning organizers would have to get close to 1.6 million.

Q.        Yikes! That’s a lot of names.  Can they be from any part of the State?

A.        Yes.  Unlike some jurisdictions, NJ does not prescribe any geographical distribution for signatures.

Q.        Getting all those signatures seems like a lot of work. Is it really feasible to pull it off?

A.        It will be extremely difficult.  To understand the magnitude, New Jersey is divided up into about 6,400 election precincts averaging 800-850 voters each. Petitioners would need an average of 250 signatures from each such neighborhood.  Also, Christie got about 1.17 million votes in the 2009 election and Corzine got about 1.08 million. To be successful, petitioners would need more signatures than the number of votes either candidate received.  Put yet another way, if the recall proponents had 1,600 active canvassers, each one would be responsible for 1,000 unique names.  By any measure, it would be a massive undertaking.

But Chris Christie has acted aggressively against, and inflicted damage upon, local schools, transit riders, college students, property tax rebate recipients, seniors, people with disabilities, and others.  The damage to the middle class has been substantial, and many feel it’s necessary for citizens to respond with the best legal means available: recall.

Q.        Is there any group that has the knowledge and geographic breadth to pull off such a large undertaking?

A.        Since New Jersey does not have statewide I&R, and no credible group has attempted a recall of a statewide officeholder, there are basically no people here with both knowledge of New Jersey and the knowledge of how to pull off a statewide petitioning campaign.  There are professionals from states that have I&R like California and Florida who could be engaged to help.  But the Democratic Party is very anemic in certain parts of the State, so another group that has true statewide reach, along with the motivation to do this, would be necessary.

Q.        Did you have such a group in mind?

A.        The only such group I can think of is the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA).

Q.        Assuming all the signatures ultimately get collected, what happens then?

A.        The signatures are turned in and checked for validity by the appropriate official. If validated, the official then schedules a recall election for a certain date according to a legal formula that takes into account when the petition was validated, and whether the petition sought the option of a special recall election.

Q.        At the election, what happens?

A.        The only recall-related question on the ballot will be whether the Governor should be recalled.  A majority (50 percent plus 1) is required to win the recall.  Unlike the procedure for local and county recalls in New Jersey or procedures in other states, there is no simultaneous election for a successor.  Rather, if the recall is successful, the Lieutenant Governor immediately becomes Governor.

Q.        Where can I find more information?

A.        You can read the recall statutes at N.J.S.A. 19:27A-1 to -18.  They can be found at www.njleg.state.nj.us, clicking on “statutes,” and entering the number of the law you want to look for, in quotes.

UPDATED APRIL 29, 2010

UPDATED 2X MAY 20, 2010

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Edison to lose $3.4 million in state municipal aid

Posted by edison1205 on March 18, 2010

Continuing with its punitive measures against towns like Edison, the state government released figures this evening showing that Edison Township’s state aid for next fiscal year will be cut by $3,431,507, or 17.6 percent.  This is over and above the school aid cuts announced yesterday (see post below).

In the meantime, here we are, 2 1/2 months into the current year, and the Mayor, Business Administrator, and Council have yet to propose a budget for the full year, continuing instead to rely on temporary stop-gap resolutions.

In the face of nothing but punishment coming from Trenton, we need leadership locally.  We hope to see it soon.

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Edison to lose $9.7 million in state school aid

Posted by edison1205 on March 17, 2010

Breaking news: Edison is slated to lose $9,743,671 in state aid for its schools for the 2010-11 school year. That represents a 55.8 percent reduction from the current year’s funding level.

This is sure to raise our taxes, and devastate our schools’ educational achievements, unless our elected representatives are able to reverse these cuts.

Apparently, anyone who believed yesterday’s speech by the Governor that the cut was going to be five percent — has been deceived.

And anyone who believed Education Commissioner Bret Schundler’s statements back on Feb. 18 that the cut would be fifteen percent — has also been deceived.  No, it’s a 55.8 percent cut!  And this, in a town that supported Gov. Christie in the Nov. election by over 500 votes!

Well, it’s not as if this is the first time that Republican officeholders have been accused of deceiving the public.

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Board of Education budget; candidate deadline approaches

Posted by edison1205 on February 20, 2010

Monday promises to be an interesting school board meeting as the Board considers a preliminary budget for next school year and decides whether to seek voter approval a second time on the $137 million renovation referendum that failed last month  by a 2-1 margin.  Looking at this document, the budget is on page 17 and the referendum is on pages 18-20.

Analysis: Next Year’s Budget

The current year budget is $203.009 million including debt service.  The preliminary budget calls for a total budget of $214.173 million including debt service, an increase of 5.5 percent.

In addition, the current year budget raises $177.369 million from local taxes, whereas the proposed preliminary budget raises $186.262 million from local property taxation, an increase of 5 percent.  (Note: this does not mean that the school taxes will necessarily go up 5 percent, this is just a calculation of the school budget total actually raised from property taxes).

The budget has some numbers in it that we consider mystifying.  The Governor warned earlier this week that “districts should prepare for a 15-percent cut in state aid next school year.”

We know that Edison expects $22.135 million in state aid from all sources for the current 2009-10 school year.  This will be reduced by $118,000 if the Governor’s executive order freezing school funds is upheld by the courts.

However, the tentative budget for next year anticipates $23.543 million in state aid from all sources!  That is a 6 percent increase made just after the Governor said to expect a 15 percent decrease.  Unless we have really goofed in our addition of the figures in the public documents cited above, this seems nonsensical and we hope the Board is questioned on this point at Monday’s meeting.  This may simply be the first move in an eventual game of ‘blame the State.’  In other words, it may be easier politically to stay away from rational planning now and blame the State for additional layoffs, additional tax increases, or the like.

It’s going to be interesting to see whether the three board members whose terms are up in April — Susan Scerbo, Ralph Errico and Rosemary Meade — vote for or against this preliminary budget.

Analysis: Referendum Redux

The Board will also decide whether to ask the voters to approve a $137.1 million referendum for school renovation and expansion.  This was the same question that the voters overwhelmingly defeated in January by a margin of 2,460-4,987 (which is 33%-67%).

On the one hand, I am glad to see the Board will be putting this question to the people at a regularly-scheduled school election.  This means there will be no additional costs to the taxpayers like the $50,000 we spent on the special election.  However, the educators on the Board and in the administration do not seem to have learned the two lessons the voters taught them last time: first, we need a less ambitious project that costs less; and second, that we need real guarantees from the State that the “State Aid” portion of the debt is secured by a binding guarantee that cannot be revoked and that is enforceable in Court.  I see no evidence that this guarantee has been issued.

I don’t think the Board has any illusions about whether this vote will pass: clearly, it will not.  But when voters reject an identical referendum twice, the Board can appeal to State Acting Education Commissioner Bret Schundler to override the voters.  In other words, all the Board can really expect from the vote is that will have the right to appeal to the State.

Who will support this?  In particular, will the three board members whose terms are up in April — Susan Scerbo, Ralph Errico and Rosemary Meade — vote for or against this effort?

Urgent reminder: School Board Petitions

If you want to run for School Board, you have to file your petitions by 4pm on March 1.  Here is the candidate packet.

I hope that this year there will not be tons of candidates running out of vanity.  There need to be two competing slates: the status quo, and the reformers.  If there are 8, 10, or more ‘reformer’ candidates, the only thing that will happen is that the vote will be split.  If the candidates’ real goal is reform and not ego-stroking, the reformers need to agree on a diverse slate of 3 and only 3 candidates to run as the reformers.

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Buono says Christie has declared “martial law” in budget measures (updated 2x)

Posted by edison1205 on February 12, 2010

This post is updated to reflect new links from the governor’s page providing further details on his proposed budget cuts.

Has Republican governor Chris Christie effectively declared war on New Jersey’s middle class and working families in his speech of Feb. 11?  State Senator Barbara Buono, who represents Edison, says that the governor’s unilateral plans in his executive order are equivalent to “martial law.”  For his part, Gov. Christie denies being a usurper, and claims, “I am not a dictator.

Below are some questions and answers about the process and substance his budget announcements.

Q.           Is the governor’s declaration of a fiscal “emergency” legal?

A.            Probably not.  The Governor cites the “Disaster Control Act, N.J.S.A. App.A:9-30 et seq.” as grounds for the emergency.  But that law is very limited; it defines “emergency” as meaning only a “disaster” or a “war emergency,” specifically:

(1)  “Disaster”  shall mean any unusual incident resulting from natural or unnatural causes which endangers the health, safety or resources of the residents of one or more municipalities of the State, and which is or may become too large in scope or unusual in type to be handled in its entirety by regular municipal operating services.
.  .  .

(3)  “War emergency”  shall mean and include any disaster occurring anywhere within the State as the result of enemy attack or the imminent danger thereof.

A:9-33.1.  Past spending decisions, even if unwise, are neither a “disaster” nor a “war emergency” as the law defines those terms.  If his plans are challenged in court — and they will be — no one knows whether a judge will sign off.

Q.           OK.  It’s not as if this is the first time a Republican chief executive has been accused of overreaching by claiming emergency powers.  But doesn’t state government have the power to balance the budget if tax revenues fall short?

A.            Yes.  Another state law says that in the case of “extravagance, waste or mismanagement,” the Governor can halt payouts by an agency of state government that are not “in the best interests of the State.”

More importantly, though, budget cutting is a legislative function in a democracy, and the Legislature can and must make the decisions on how spending is reduced.  They cannot be unilateral decisions of the Governor.

Q.           Has the Governor made any findings of “extravagance, waste or mismanagement”?

A.            His speech on Feb. 11 referred to “375 different state programs” he was cutting. Further detail can be found in this document entitled “FY2010 Budgt [sic] Solutions as A Foundation For Reform.”  Still, it’s hard to find items where he is making a specific finding of extravagance, waste or mismanagement.

Q.           Let’s turn to some of the specific cuts Christie is proposing.  What I want to know is this: even if his cuts were legal, are they wise?  Let’s start with public schools.

A.            Christie proposes to cut school aid from now through June 30 by $475 million, making schools use their reserve  funds to make up the difference.

Q.           Let me see if I understand this: schools collected local taxes, including “rainy day” funds, and now the Governor want to withhold the same amount of state aid, and punish overburdened property taxpayers twice?  Maybe I misunderstood, because that’s inane.

A.            But that is exactly what the governor proposes.  Some think this will mean more property taxes and will cause bond ratings to go down.

Q.           Wow.  Well, at least I’m thankful that he’s not cutting college and university funding.  After all, during the campaign, he promised to “increase funds for higher education” as Governor and reiterated that agenda after winning the election.

A.            Yeah . . . not so fast, college boy!  He is cutting higher education by $62 million.

Q.           My G-d!  What other programs important to me, my family, and my neighbors, is he cutting?

A.            Do you use a train, bus, or light rail?  Well, you’re now at risk of service cuts or fare increases of 20-30%, or both!

Like clean air, or clean water?  Tough!  The State’s leading environmental advocate, Dave Pringle, criticized the decision to Governor’s proposal to “dilute clean energy funds.”

Q.           What do our U.S. senators and Congresspersons have to say about this?

A.            Leonard Lance, who represents parts of North Edison, showed up at the Feb.11 budget address.  He had favorable things to say about Christie’s moves against education, colleges and universities, mass transit, and other services that working families need.

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