“The Governor has demonstrated once again that he is a worthy steward of New Jersey taxpayer money. With yet another responsible, conservative budget, the Governor has maintained critical funding of important services without increasing taxes on New Jersey families.
“Our state faces some serious financial challenges. With the Governor’s vision and leadership, we will meet those challenges and make New Jersey a model for other states to follow.
“Trenton Democrats should borrow a page from Christie’s playbook and work together with us to make New Jersey more affordable for residents, and more attractive to employers. By fueling New Jersey’s capable economic engine with responsible policies, we can improve finances for all hard-working New Jerseyans, increase state revenue across the board, and make our state prosperous again.
“I look forward to working with my Democrat friends on the budget committee to ensure a fiscal plan that provides job opportunity and financial stability for working families, preserves pension and health benefits for public employees, and funds investment in our roads and bridges.”
TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the Republican budget officer, responded to the N.J. Supreme Court’s 6-1 decision today that retired public employees do not have a contractual right to receive increasing cost-of-living adjustments.
“The decision supports the Legislature’s 2011 reforms that save taxpayers $70 billion over the next 30 years,” said O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth). “Had this decision gone the other way, it would have been a disaster for N.J. taxpayers as well as the very public workers who filed this ill-advised lawsuit in the first place. With that in mind, we need to continue our work to reform and protect workers’ pensions, starting with reducing health benefit costs to fully fund pension payments and to begin the tough work towards a long-term solution to balance our state budget. This decision and these reforms are essential to that effort.”
On Monday, O’Scanlon introduced a three-bill package to make annual pension payments by reducing health care costs for state and local government employees.
TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the Republican budget officer, issued the following statement commending the work of the state Department of Corrections and the Parole Board:
“New Jersey has been an easy mark. Legislators, the media, entertainers and the public find it easy to point their fingers at the state and say ‘Things Stink!’ Often this declaration is with good cause: New Jersey ranks last in ‘such and such,’ New Jersey lags other states in ‘you name it,’ New Jersey has the highest rate in the history of the world of ‘some malady. It’s refreshing to know, however, that this isn’t the case every time. In something as crucial as preventing crime, rehabilitating offenders, reducing recidivism, New Jersey has become a successful model for other states to follow.
“Through addiction treatment services, and education and occupational training opportunities, not only are we locking up the bad guys, we are effectively preparing them for a successful transition to life outside the prison walls. Providing ex-offenders with the tools and resources to attain long-term employment and housing is the most effective way to slow the revolving door of return offenders.
“Clearly, the Governor’s leadership in how the courts and the prisons deal with addiction, incarceration and rehabilitation is paying dividends. It’s no wonder other states want to duplicate what New Jersey is doing.
“Dealing effectively with crime and incarceration is a win on every level -- Lower crime impact on residents, lower costs of the criminal justice system and, on the moral level, people who are not in jail are people in their communities, working, spending time with family, and living productive lives. About all this – FEEL GOOD NEW JERSEY!”
- New Jersey is the recognized leader in the reduction of recidivism and incarceration rates.
- A recent publication by The Sentencing Project found 12 states with double-digit declines in prison population from 1999 to 2014. Only four states in the study reduced prison populations by 20 percent or more, and New Jersey stood above all the other examined states with a 31 percent decline.
- The state recidivism rate during the same period decreased from 48 percent to 32 percent in 2015, one of the most significant reduction in the country.
- The crime rate in New Jersey shrank by 20 percent between 2011 and 2014, and according to a crime survey by SafeWise released in 2015, “New Jersey’s crime rate is approximately 30 percent less than the typical state in the U.S.”
- Inmates earned 3,000 vocational training certificates in 2015, in industries including masonry, culinary arts and horticulture
- 38 high school diplomas and more than 340 high school equivalency diplomas were earned in 2015
TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the Republican budget officer, made the following comments during the Assembly Budget Committee hearing with the Department of Education:
“The days of legislators loudly promising everything to everyone and quietly doing nothing for anyone have to come to an end. There are fundamental flaws in the structure of the budget, and leaky holes in the roof. Too many legislators are inclined to believe the pockets of taxpayers are bottomless pits of cash.
“In this committee we have heard about horror stories about conditions in the Paterson school district from Assembly Wimberly, staff and parents, and we know there are many other districts facing serious obstacles. There are parents from Red Bank Borough in the committee room today. Taxpayers in Paterson pay 30 percent of the districts local fair share, while they pay 83 percent of fair share in Red Bank. Paterson is below adequacy by 16 percent, and Red Bank falls 30 percent short of adequacy.
“We need a new school funding formula. It is unfair and it is unattainable. It isn’t working. We are going to have to come together in a bipartisan effort to solve these issues. This is not about playing one school district against another. This cannot be about legislators selfishly defending the school districts we represent.”
According to Commissioner of Education David Hespe, Gov. Christie has allocated an increase of $548 million for education in the fiscal year 2017 budget. To fully fund the school formula, including eliminating artificial caps will cost an additional $2.1 billion. Of the state’s school districts, 365 are funded “above adequacy” and 226 are below.
TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon sent Democrats scurrying for rhetorical cover for the sixth year in a row after they made assertions that women have been deprived of healthcare services in New Jersey. For the past six years Republicans have challenged the Democrats to demonstrate this problem exists. For six years, no Democrat has reached out to any Republican office or Health Commissioner with an instance of a woman not being able to access health services.
“If there are any women who have trouble accessing care, please call my office,” said O’Scanlon, the Republican Budget Officer. “It is stunning to me how some Democrats can convince themselves into believing there is zero funding for women’s healthcare in New Jersey’s budget. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
O’Scanlon was responding to a press release issued by Pintor Marin after the two engaged in a congenial exchange about women’s health funding at the conclusion of the Budget Committee’s morning hearing with the Health Department.
“I count at least seven line items where we put money to women’s healthcare, including $135 million for family health services to provide prenatal and perinatal care for expectant mothers and their children,” said O’Scanlon. “The results of the Republican investment in women’s healthcare speak for themselves. New Jersey is in the top five States with the lowest STD rates in the country. Other states look to New Jersey as a model for STD prevention.” O’Scanlon also pointed out that the Democrats have failed to provide any additional funding for Family Planning Services in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget they passed last June.
“While certainly there is somebody out of touch in this state, it isn’t me. One need look no further than Assemblywoman Pintor Marin’s own words to make my point. This morning, when asked directly if she came across even one constituent who couldn’t access the healthcare they needed, she answered, ‘No.’ I rest my case,” concluded O’Scanlon.
Trenton, NJ- Assemblyman Republican Budget Office Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth, issued the following statement regarding today's report by the Treasury Department on state debt:
"This report demonstrates the fiscal prudence of the Christie administration, which has limited the growth of the state's bonded obligations to 3.3 percent since last year. Over the last five years, borrowing has grown less than 3 percent annually, compared to the 12 percent growth when Democrats had a monopoly on power. This administration has been a responsible steward of New Jersey's fiscal situation, limiting debt growth to just a fraction of past levels.
"New debt was the result of investments in school construction, capital construction projects, and voter approved higher education bonds. Not a penny of added debt was used for operating expenses as Democrats did when they were in charge.
"While debt for other postemployment benefits is increasing, it is almost entirely tied to the Obamacare cadillac tax that's adding $6 billion in future obligations. This highlights the importance of reforming health benefits to provide quality healthcare at an affordable price for both the state and its employees.
"If not for the initial reforms spearheaded by Republicans and the record high contributions to the pensions during the Christie administration, pension and debt payments would be dramatically higher."
“The commission’s recommendations hit the nail on the head. Unless we implement the necessary reforms, we cannot make the projected massive payments into the system. We will be digging our huge budget hole even deeper.
“The Democrats’ constitutional amendment mandating pension payments won’t change that reality. Virtually every ratings agency – the same ones whose pronouncements are cited by the amendment’s proponents when it’s convenient – agrees emphatically. No realistic amount of economic growth that will magically enable us to make the required payments. That would leave only two alternatives – massive, economy-killing tax increases or massive, service-crippling cuts to state government.
“Asking public workers to shift from ‘platinum plus’- level health benefits – benefits much more generous and expensive than virtually all of the private sector workers who are paying the bills – down to ‘gold’ isn’t asking too much, and can save billions. Other adjustments can be negotiated and derive value for our taxpayers and provide fairness to our workers – without destroying their retirement plans. This problem is solvable if we all work together – and act quickly. The hole gets deeper, and the remedy more painful, every day.
“Every day we wait to fix this problem essentially sets $10 million in taxpayer dollars on fire. The commission’s recommendations should be implemented to guarantee the system’s long-term sustainability.”
O’SCANLON TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATION ALLOWING CONSUMER CHOICE BETWEEN SELF-SERVE AND FULL-SERVICE GASOLINE IN NJ
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) announced he will be introducing legislation to allow consumer choice when it comes to the dispensing of motor fuels. O’Scanlon joins the effort of Senators Sarlo and Cardinale. O’Scanlon’s bill will not only decriminalize the act of pumping one’s own gas, but also provide for self-service islands at New Jersey’s gas stations. Each facility would be required to operate at least one island full service for three years following enactment, and the bill also allows for gas retailers to charge a lesser price for self-service gasoline.
“The time has come for New Jersey to join the other 48 – soon to be 49 – States that allow self-service gas. The prohibition of self-service is an antiquated law, long overdue for a second look. No one can come up with a justified reason to criminalize the act of pumping one’s own gas. This is just another area with which New Jersey’s laws must move ahead with the times” said O’Scanlon.
“I am offended by people that argue that New Jerseyans are mentally incapable of pumping their own gas without setting themselves on fire. But I hear them. For that reason I am recommending language be inserted in the final bill that mandates signs at all self serve pumps, in bold red and blue flashing neon lettering, that reads “Do not, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, set yourself on fire!!” I think that should resolve these concerns” concluded O’Scanlon.
O’SCANLON: CONSULTATION WITH NJNG RESULTS IN CLARIFICATION OF SANDY RELATED NATURAL GAS DISCONNECTS/RECONNECT PROCESS AND TIME LINE.
Assemblyman O’Scanlon (R-13) called for increased awareness of New Jersey Natural Gas timeframes when it comes to gas disconnects and reconnects on Sandy-affected home projects.
O’Scanlon was contacted by a constituent who was advised by her contractor that New Jersey Natural Gas would take up to 8 weeks to disconnect and then another 8 weeks to reconnect the natural gas lines to her home after work had been completed. O’Scanlon reached out to New Jersey Natural Gas representatives who clarified that the average time frame for a disconnect is approximately 4 weeks, and the average time for a reconnect is 4-6 weeks. Disconnections and re-connections of gas lines are more complicated than for power lines, thus leading to longer lead times. For this reason homeowners and contractors are encouraged to contact New Jersey Natural Gas early in their construction planning phase.
“It seems that there was some initial confusion on the part of contractors and homeowners with how long this process can take and when NJNG should be brought into the process. As long as NJNG is contacted early in the planning process, there is no reason it should take more than approximately 4 weeks to disconnect, and then another 6 to reconnect gas lines for these homeowners who have been waiting over two years to move back into their homes. The key here is for homeowners and contractors to be aware of these lead times and to begin to work with NJNG early enough so that they don’t get jammed up when they are ready to begin work or move back into their renovated and elevated homes.” O’Scanlon said.
“To ensure that this information is thoroughly disseminated NJNG has agreed to reach out to contractors and disaster recovery staff. Homeowners should also be aware – and be sure to remind their contractors so they aren’t held up on either side of their projects. This is critical. Just like our office working with JCP&L, we remain open to constituents who need help moving through this process with utlities” concluded O’Scanlon.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon joyfully crossed the aisle today to praise the miraculous efforts of Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Prieto for coming up with a plan to solve New Jersey’s budget shortfall. “This is the best news I’ve heard in years!” said an ebullient O’Scanlon. “I really am having trouble containing myself! I need to sit down. Can someone bring me a water?!?”
O’Scanlon couldn’t contain his joy over the news that Sweeney and Prieto have a plan to solve all of New Jersey’s budget ills and make full payments into the state’s beleaguered pension systems.
“The only small problem, actually, I’m certain it isn’t a problem per se, let’s call it a formality, is that they didn’t actually release their plan. Yet, I mean….I’m sure it will be released later today. But it must exist because they filed support of the lawsuit that would force full pension payments. They would never be so irresponsible as to publicly support the lawsuit without a plan to make the payments – balance the budget and do it all without massive, economy-killing tax increases or untenable budget cuts. That would be insane.” said O’Scanlon a little less enthusiastically than his earlier comments.
“I heard digging and blasting down in the basement of the statehouse when I was there for Budget Committee meetings over the last couple of weeks and saw Steve emerge in filthy overalls with a pick in his hand. There probably was $3.5 billion buried down there. Or maybe they were drilling for oil and hit a gusher! Whatever, I’m just glad our problems are solved! Everyone can rest easy now!!”