Volume 6/Issue 26

  • Legislation to Allow Governor to Ink Book Deal Posted for a Vote
  • $28 Million Spent on Ballot Initiatives in 2016
  • Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon Announces Run for State Senate
  • Report Studying Charter School Expansion Growth on Traditional Districts Debunks Myths

Legislation to Allow Governor to Ink Book Deal Posted for a Vote

Legislation to allow the Governor, his senior staff and cabinet members to receive compensation for books and published works has been posted for a committee vote in both the Senate and Assembly on Thursday.  Current law prohibits such individuals from profiting from book deals while actively serving in their respective offices.

Additionally, the bill increases judicial salaries over a two-year period beginning in 2017 at a rate of 3% annually, increases the ceiling of pay for executive branch cabinet officers and senior executive staff to $175,000 and increases legislative staff salary allocations, per legislator, by $30,000.

An analysis by The Record estimates that the measure could cost taxpayers at least $10 million a year or more. 

GOP Senate Senator Jennifer Beck, a member of the Senate Budget Committee that will vote on the bill recently tweeted that it was “Another horrible proposal brought to light when legislative leaders think the public's not paying attention.”  Interestingly, the Senator’s comment was retweeted by Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.

$28 Million Spent on Ballot Initiatives in 2016

According to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC), independent groups spent almost $28 million on ballot initiatives this election.

Groups supporting or opposing the ballot question on the expansion of casinos into Northern New Jersey dominated the spending.  Approximately $24.6 million was spent by outside groups on that issue.  An additional $2.4 million was spent on ballot question two regarding New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund.

Jeff Brindle, Executive Director of NJ ELEC noted that this year’s spending by independent groups was a harbinger for what is to come in 2017, when there are elections for governor and every member of the legislature. “Without reforms that strengthen political parties and require registration and disclosure by independent groups, outside organizations will submerge next year’s gubernatorial and legislative elections in a sea of dark money,” said Brindle.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon Announces Run for State Senate

Republican State Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon announced last week that he will run for State Senate in the 13th Legislative District.  The seat became available when incumbent Senator Joe Kyrillos announced his intention to retire earlier this year.

Assemblyman O’Scanlon has represented the Monmouth County district since 2008. He serves as the Republican Budget Officer in the General Assembly.  His legislative accomplishments include the landmark pension and benefits reform, the 2% property tax cap and eliminating New Jersey’s estate tax in the recent legislative package replenishing the State’s Transportation Trust Fund.

The Assemblyman is expected to face his running-mate, GOP Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, in the June 2017 primary.  The district leans Republican, so the winner of that race will be favored to win the seat in the fall general election.

Report Studying Charter School Expansion Growth on Traditional Districts Debunks Myths

Education commentator and Lawrence Township School Board member Laura Waters, on her blog site, NJ Left Behind, recently highlighted a report published by Professor Bruce Baker on the Economic Policy Institute website that studied the effect of charter school expansion in multiple mid-size to large-size cities across the country.

The report specifically looked at Newark as one of its sample cities. Ms. Waters points out that though the author is “an academic researcher closely associated with (and often funded by) teacher unions and allied groups,” his analysis debunks traditional arguments raised by those organizations, namely that an increase in charters schools shrinks the budget of traditional school districts and drains them of their resources