Governor’s Address Draws Reaction From the Shore State Lawmakers
Not surprisingly, the Governor's State of the State Address was well received from State Lawmakers in Ocean and Monmouth Counties because the region is well represented by the Republican Party. However, not everyone embraced all of the Governor's proposals.
Assemblyman Greg McGuckin agreed with the Governor's call on the state legislature to take additional steps aimed at reducing the state's high property taxes. McGuckin said the 2% property tax increase cap is working and the rate of increase has been reduced dramatically since the 2% cap came into place. "At the local level, it has forced towns to consolidate services, to reduce salaries and or contract negotiations," explained McGuckin.
State Senator Robert Singer said the Governor's new property tax relief initiative is needed because in some instances towns are hindered from saving taxpayer's money because of rules that are now in place. Singer said some towns can't share services and gain from it if one municipality is civil service and the other is not. "He's (the Governor) just saying lets streamline it, making local municipalities and counties able to share services, breaking down some of the barriers that make it impossible for them to get together to save the taxpayer's money," explained Singer.
The Governor also proposed expanding the school day and academic year, something Monmouth County Assemblywoman Caroline Cassagrande supports. "You know it's really interesting that New Jersey is taking a look at taking that step not only to give our kids a better education and allow them to compete in a global market place but also to make sure that we are making life a little bit easier for New Jersey's families."
Cassagrande believes that municipal consolidation will play an important role in providing the extra funds needed to finance the proposed school initiatives. "Does every tiny town need its own police chief, need its own back loader? All of those things, all those cost that are built in to our day to day life in New Jersey that really don't necessarily enrich the lives of our residents," she added.
Ocean County Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove, who's a former educator, was cautiously receptive the Governor's proposed education reforms because in her words she believes New Jersey's education system is 'pretty darn good'. She said education changes need to involve all parties, the parents, teachers and administrators. "You know what? You can never say let's not look at something because something can always be improved," said Gove.
Assemblyman Dave Wolfe, who's also an educator, said some school districts across the country are seeing success from expanded school days and academic years. "He hasn't ruled how it's gonna happen. I would suspect he's going to propose a few pilot programs in selected districts through out the state, rather than just kind of rush Willy-Nilly into it almost as a fiat. I think it's something we need to look at," explained Wolfe.
Wolfe also commented on the Governor's proposal to assist Drug Court participants with job placement. "It's one thing to get help. It's another thing to get something to get your life back together again in terms of a working future. I think that's very very important," said Wolfe.
Assemblywoman Gove said if she had a wish list, the Governor's address would have focused more on Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts. "There's been so much devastation. We've done a good job but we need to really get people back on their feet and building our communities is very important," said Gove.