- NJEA Leads Spending on Lobbying Efforts for 2015
- Atlantic City Takeover Legislation Passed by Senate
- New Legislator Profile: Annette Chaparro
NJEA Leads Spending on Lobbying Efforts for 2015
The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) led all lobbying groups including associations, businesses, lobbying firms, etc., by spending $10.3 million on its efforts in 2015. It’s the fourth time in six years that the teachers’ union has been the top spender of all entities that report their lobbying and communications efforts to the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC). The only year the NJEA spent more was in 2011, when it set an all-time record for lobbying groups with an $11.3 million outlay in a single year.
According to the NJ ELEC, “NJEA spending appeared to be driven up by two major ad campaigns last year. In February, it began a six-week television and online advertising campaign that raised concerns about Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing. In May, it launched a $750,000 per week advertising drive lasting 'several weeks' that urged the state to fully fund the state’s pension plan."
Spending for lobbying and communications efforts across the board in 2015 reached $70 million, the second highest total ever. In addition to the NJEA, the increase in spending was driven by a massive communications effort focused on the need to replenish the State’s Transportation Trust Fund by coalitions of business and labor groups and an increase in lobbying efforts by hospitals.
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Atlantic City Takeover Legislation Passed by Senate
Legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo and Senator Kevin O’Toole to give the State the authority to manage Atlantic City municipal affairs, passed the Senate on Monday by a 27-9 vote. This Senate bill has the support of Governor Chris Christie. Atlantic City has been financially devastated in recent years due to the unexpected closure of multiple casinos, a successful property tax appeal by the Borgata and has experienced a seventy percent loss in assessed property values in just five years.
The legislation gives the Local Finance Board (LFB) within the NJ Department of Community Affairs decision-making authority to dissolve local departments and agencies, dispose municipally-owned assets, amend or terminate existing contracts and change collective negotiations agreements as well as other wide-ranging powers.
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, Council President Marty Small, Councilman Kaleem Shabazz, representatives of the City’s police, fire and municipal workers, as well as local NAACP members traveled to the State House to oppose the takeover bill.
Noting that his City has made significant cuts within every department, met and exceeded fiscal benchmarks set by a state-appointed monitor and dramatically reduced the size of its workforce, the Mayor pointed out that his government continues to look for more ways to cut costs and save money while simultaneously increasing revenue.
Mayor Guardian stated that while Atlantic City has tried to work in partnership with State officials to address the crisis, the takeover legislation is essentially a license to abolish the City’s local governmental structure and sell off its assets --- all with no assurances that the municipality or its residents, will be any better off in five years when the terms of the legislation expire.
Mayor Guardian and Atlantic City stakeholders were especially concerned with the provision giving the LFB the ability to abolish the existing collective bargaining agreements with City workers. This provision is of great concern to Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who has stated his intention not to move a companion bill in his chamber.
Atlantic City representatives also warned that the legislation “creates a statutory blueprint for how the state can take over distressed cities in the future,” a point recognized by Senator Nia Gill, who stated “If they can do it in Atlantic City, they can do it in Newark."
New Legislator Profile: Annette Chaparro
Annette Chaparro is the new Assemblywoman from the 33rd Legislative District, which is comprised of the Hudson County municipalities of Hoboken, Jersey City, Union City and Weehawken.
The Assemblywoman previously served as the board secretary to the Hoboken Planning and Zoning boards and as a member of the Hoboken Rent Control Board. She currently works as a clerk in Hoboken’s City Hall.
Assemblywoman Chaparro identified lowering taxes, providing affordable housing options to low and middle income residents, improving New Jersey’s schools and addressing transportation funding needs as her key legislative priorities.
The Assemblywoman serves on the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee, the Law and Public Safety Committee and the Women and Children Committee.