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Posted: April 14th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Christie, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes | Tags: Chris Christie, Interest Arbitration Cap, Property Tax Cap | Comments Off on Christie to hammer NJ Assembly on expiration of property tax law
With one business day to go prior to the expiration of the Interest Arbitration Award Cap that has saved New Jersey property tax payers millions of dollars over the last 3 years, and with no sign that Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto is going to call the General Assembly back into session to vote on concurring with Governor Chris Chrisite’s conditional veto of legislation to extend the cap, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, the Republican Assembly Budget Officer, is calling on every New Jersey municipality with an expired police or firefighters contract to file for arbitration on Monday so their new contract will fall within the 2% parameter of the existing cap.
“It is quite frankly heart breaking to me that the leadership of my house, all of who are my friends, are leading New Jersey property tax payers off a cliff,” O’Scanlon said, “I fully expected to hear by the end of the day today that we would be brought back to Trenton on Monday to vote to affirm the Governor’s conditional veto of the arbitration award cap legislation which was overwhelmingly passed on a bipartisan measure by the apparently much more responsible New Jersey State Senate.
“Since the clock is counting down to the expiration of the previous law and the Assembly leadership seems to care more about pandering to special interest than the property tax payers of New Jersey I now feel compelled to take action assuming we’ll face the worst case scenario. In order to most comprehensively guard themselves against potential frivolous, but costly none the less, litigation any municipality that has an expired contract, but that has not yet filed for arbitration, should do so immediately – before the April 1 expiration of the previous law.
“It is extremely unfortunate that the Assembly Democrat leadership would act to threaten the welfare of New Jersey property tax payers, but that is apparently the reality.”
Pass this post on to your municipal officials.
Posted: March 28th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: NJ State Legislature, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes | Tags: Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, Declan O'Scanlon, Interest Arbitration Cap, Property Tax Cap, Property Taxes | 2 Comments »
The ball is in the Assembly’s court
Both the State Senate and General Assembly passed the bill that would blow a hole in municipal budgets for the next four years, the “extension” of the 2% Interest Arbitration Cap for police and firefighters base salaries that did not really cap those salaries. Had the bill become law, there would have been a massive cut in municipal services throughout New Jersey or property taxes would have started rising again at levels we experienced during the Corzine/Codey/McGreevey administrations.
But Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the bill and the Senate quickly concurred with the changes he made to the bill which kept the cap intact through December 2017 by a vote of 33-1. Christie’s office announced the conditional veto and the Senate’s concurrence in the same press release.
One has to wonder why the Senate went through the exercise of passing the “bad bill” in the first place, by a vote of 28-7, only to abandon the changes it made to the existing Interest Arbitration Cap and, for the most part, extend the existing law for another four years, so quickly. Without the Senate’s concurrence to Christie’s conditional veto, the cap on arbitration awards would expire on April 1st. Either the “bad bill” or the expiration of the cap would have been a victory for the Trenton Democrats benefactors in the police and firefighters unions.
The unions may still have their victory. Before the Assembly could take a vote on concurring with Christie’s conditional veto, Speaker Vincent Prieto abruptly adjourned the session. No Assembly session has been scheduled, yet, to take up the concurrence prior to April 1.
Below is a video of Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon’s floor speak before the chamber voted on the “bad bill.” As usual, O’Scanlon makes is case and fights for New Jersey taxpayers very well.
Posted: March 28th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Declan O'Scanlon, NJ State Legislature, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes | Tags: Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, Declan O'Scanlon, Governor Chris Christie, interest arbitration, Interest Arbitration Cap, NJ State Legislature, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes | 2 Comments »
Sponsors a critical bill before he reads it
Legislature in poised to pass a “cap” that doesn’t control costs
State Senator Mike Doherty
State Senator Mike Doherty (R-Warren) told MMM that he hadn’t read a bill of which is he is a primary sponsor, the day after it cleared the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.
We’re not talking about an insignificant bill like designating “I’m from New Jersey” as the State Song, or the establishment of special license plates for honorably discharged veterans, two other bills that Doherty sponsored.
We’re talking about the extension of the 2% cap on arbitration awards for police and firefighters unions, the provision of the 2010 reform legislation that slowed the growth in New Jersey’s property taxes and made the 2% cap on those taxes work.
Doherty joined Senate President Sweeney in sponsoring legislation that exempts contracts that have already been subject to the cap from being subject to it again when they are up for renewal and raises the cap to 3% on contracts that have not yet been subject to renegotiation.
Doherty said, “I don’t see what the big deal is, the original bill had one bite at the apple, this bill extends that. Is it a perfect bill? No, but this is the way Trenton works. A bill that passes is better than no bill.”
Not really, Senator. A bill that passes the same as no bill, except it deceives the public into thinking the legislature is continuing fiscal reforms when they are actually engineering massive chaos in municipal governments.
Doherty said he hadn’t read the bill when we questioned him on specifics. He said he was relying on analysis of the bill from Republican legislative staffers and referred questions to Republican Senators Steven Oroho and Sam Thompson, members of the committee that unanimously cleared the bill.
The leadership of the police and firefighters unions not only read the bill, they helped write it, according to what they are telling their members.
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Posted: March 27th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: NJ State Legislature, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes | Tags: Interest Arbitration Cap, Nancy Pelosi, NJ State Legislature, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes, Seante President Steve Sweeney, Senator Mike Doherty | 1 Comment »
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Posted: March 26th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: NJ State Legislature, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes | Tags: Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, interest arbitration, Interest Arbitration Cap, NJ Legislature, Property Tax Cap, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Mike Doherty | Comments Off on Property taxes: Christie won’t sign Democrat bill to extend key law, Republican lawmaker says
photo credit: Tim Larsen/Governor’s Office
It’s beginning to look like Governor Chris Christie’s Boulevard of Compromise is a dead end.
The 2% property tax cap is under attack, as the Trenton Democrats are on the verge of passing an “extension” of the Interest Arbitration Award Cap that eliminates the cap on most arbitration awards and increases the cap on the remainder of the potential awards by 50%.
In my piece last night about the Interest Arbitration Cap, I raised the hope that published reports that Assembly and Senate committees cleared an identical bill that guts the cap were inaccurate because Senator Mike Doherty was co-sponsor of the Senate bill and because of Senate President Steve Sweeney’s comments about the cap at his Town Hall Meeting in Keansburg last week. It turns out that was wishful thinking. MMM has learned the bills are identical and, inexplicably, Doherty is a primary sponsor of the Senate bill, giving Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto “bi-partisan” cover.
Doherty has yet to return our call for comment. We’ve been told his attitude about the bill he is sponsoring with Sweeney is “a bill that will pass is better than no bill.”
Doherty has a point, albeit a minor one. If no bill passes by April 1, there is no cap on Interest Arbitration awards at all. If the bill that cleared through committees yesterday passes the full legislature and is signed by Christie, there will be a 3% cap on a minority of municipal government labor contracts for the next few years. If Christie vetoes the bill, even conditionally, there is no arbitration cap. Either way the property tax blaze is about to be reignited and/or the pain inflicted upon municipalities will be so great that consolidations and mergers will be forced indelicately. The backdoor destruction of municipal governments appears to be Sweeney’s undeclared plan.
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Posted: March 25th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Christie, George Norcross, NJ State Legislature, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes | Tags: Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Boulevard of Compromise, Chris Christie, George Norcross, Interest Arbitration Cap, NJ Legislature, Patrick Diegnan Jr, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes, Steve Sweeney | 7 Comments »
New Jersey property taxes will likely resume the double digit annual growth that occurred under the McGreevey, Codey and Corzine Administrations if Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto’s version of the of the Interest Arbitration extension becomes law. Either that, or municipal governments as we know them will cease to exist, succumbing to a long and painful death of higher crime and reduced services and capital improvements.
A 2% cap on interest arbitration awards in labor disputes was a key component of the 2% property tax cap negotiated between Governor Chris Christie, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Prieto’s predecessor, Sheila Oliver in 2010. It worked. Arbitrators made awards of less that 2% to police and fire fighters unions and property taxes rose less than 2% per year over the last four years.
The problem is Oliver insisted that the arbitration cap expire on April 1, 2014. Now, we’re a week before the arbitration cap expires and Prietro is gutting the cap by passing an extension of the law that exempts contracts that were awarded less than 2% during the last three years from any future caps and raises the cap to 3% on contracts that have not been negotiated since 2010.
The math will never work. If property taxes stay capped at 2% but the primary cost of property taxes, salaries, are not capped or are capped at 3%, municipal services will disappear. Police will be laid off, with the junior, lower paid officers being let go first, leaving the older and more highly paid officers to run drown the inevitable increase in crime. Towns will go bust. The state will take over municipal governments and force consolidations.
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Posted: March 24th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Christie, Declan O'Scanlon, NJ State Legislature, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes | Tags: Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Interest Arbitration Cap, NJ Legislature, Property Tax Cap, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes, Senator Michael Doherty, Steve Sweeney | 7 Comments »
Monmouth County Freeholder Serena DiMaso, Keansburg Deputy Mayor Jimmy Cocuzza, Congressman Frank Pallone and Senate President Steve Sweeney talk before Sweeney’s Town Hall Meeting in Keansburg. Pallone was not impressed. Click for larger view.
Senate President Steve Sweeney told MMM today that he expects a key provision of New Jersey’s 2% property tax cap that is set to expire on April 1 to be extended.
The interest arbitration provision of the property tax reforms passed with bi-partisan support three years ago caps arbitration awards in government labor disputes to 2%. Since they’ve been implemented the average arbitration award resulted in salary increases for local government employees to 1.86%–the lowest in 20 years. The provision will expire on April 1 unless extended by legislation.
“It’s my bill,” Sweeney said, “I’ll pass it next week.” Ask if the arbitration cap would become permanent or extended with another sunset provision, Sweeney said, “That’s what we’re working on now. I’d just assume we done with it, but we’ll get the best we can.”
Sweeney said that while negotiating the original property tax reforms that he favored a 0% cap. “That would force municipalities to, if not consolidate, to share, to share services.”
Sweeney spoke to MMM after his sparsely attended Town Hall Meeting at the Bayshore Senior Day Center in Keansburg this afternoon.
Posted: March 20th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: NJ State Legislature, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes, Stephen Sweeney | Tags: Bayshore Senior Day Center, interest arbitration, Interest Arbitration Cap, Interest Arbitration Task Force, Keansburg, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Steve Sweeney | 2 Comments »
Posted: March 19th, 2014 | Author: admin | Filed under: Declan O'Scanlon, Press Release, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes | Tags: Declan O'Scanlon, interest arbitration, Interest Arbitration Cap, Interest Arbitration Task Force, NJ State Legislation, Press Release | 1 Comment »
Task force study on arbitration reform confirms law works – and is essential
Following up on his comments last week that allowing the interest arbitration law to expire on April 1st would have disastrous consequences on towns and property taxpayers, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon will introduce legislation on Thursday that would make the law permanent.
From January 2011, when the law took effect, to September 2013, average raises in contracts, whether through arbitration or negotiations, were 1.86 percent — the lowest in at least 20 years. O’Scanlon was a member of the task force charged with studying the effects of the law since its inception and said there is no doubt the cap has been the single most significant tool responsible for the stabilization of municipal budgets.
“The data contained in the task force report is irrefutable that the interest arbitration law works and is an essential element in helping towns control costs,” said O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth. “The cap on arbitration awards was a critical part of our 2010 reforms and was the most important tool ever enacted to bring under control the never-ending, upward pressure on property taxes and the gradual strangling of local government services. One simply cannot logically argue that we can maintain a cap on property taxes without providing this tool for municipal officials to control their largest expense categories.
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