Tool Kit Progress Press Conference. November 23rd, 2010. (Transcript Below)
Well, good afternoon.
197 days ago I stood at this podium and laid 33 bills right here, and said to the Legislature that it was time to act to cap property taxes in New Jersey and then to pass the rest of the tool kit, which was going to be necessary to control property taxes without an enormous diminution of service to the residents of these municipalities, so 197 days ago.
Now, starting on September 7th, when we started our series of town hall meetings, there were 105 days left for the Legislature to act. We stand here today with just 28 days left for the legislature to act. The mayors have spoken very eloquently about this across the state, that the spine of the tool kit is arbitration reform, civil service reform, unfunded mandate relief, and COAH.
We reached a bipartisan agreement with the Senate on COAH months ago, and yet we've now watched the Assembly put forward a watered-down ineffectual bill that will never be posted in the Senate and will never be signed by a governor, not this one.
Now let's flash back if you would to June and July of this past year.
Speaker Oliver on June 28th said "this will be an extensive effort over the summer to properly analyze reforms and develop a real plan of action to bring relief to taxpayers. This is going to be a thorough review that brings smart reform to New Jersey, and a real plan."
So we've now waited since June 28th for the Assembly plan on property tax reform.
We got a press conference three weeks or so ago, where they laid out a plan which the Speaker couldn't even get out of her caucus. Now apparently today this extensive plan is a two-page press release with bullet points. All summer, all summer of extensive analysis to bring up a plan. This is the plan.
What's the Assembly been doing? Well, Assembly committees have only held 20 hearings in the past five months. In total, the Assembly has spent 42 hours debating and discussing bills, both tool kit related and non-tool kit related. Of that 42 hours, 90 minutes has been devoted to tool kit bills. 90 minutes over 5 months have been related to tool-kit reforms. The Assembly places that level of value on finally controlling what everyone knows is the most important issue to the taxpayers of New Jersey, and that's property tax reform. 20 hearings in five months. 42 hours of debating anything over that period of time and only 90 minutes in talking about the tool kit.
On July 3rd the Senate President stood behind this podium and said the tool kit has to happen. I agree. I agreed then. I've agreed every day since then, and I'll be agreeing for the next 28 days as well.
There's been no progress on arbitration reform. Despite attempts to move a watered-down version that we talked about three weeks ago that ultimately failed, Senator Doherty's bill that includes a hard cap on awards has languished since it was introduced on September 30th, and received a discussion only hearing on October 14th.
Five different proposals on civil service reform introduced back in June sponsored by Senators Kyrillos, Oroho, and Cardinale, and Assemblypeople Peterson, McHose, Bucco, Casagrande, and Chiusano. The deal with civil service have languished in both the Senate and the Assembly without any hearings.
But when the Legislature wants to act it's clear they can.
Now bullying is an important problem in New Jersey, and this anti-bullying bill that was passed is something that when it gets to my desk I'm going to study very closely and decide whether or not I can sign it or whether I need to improve it, but I consider it an extraordinarily important issue to the people of the state, and it will get my full analysis and consideration and that of my staff. But it is interesting to note that on this law legislation was introduced on November 8th, passed out of committees in both houses on the 15th, and passed by both full houses on the 22nd. In 14 days the Legislature could study this issue, propose legislation, pass legislation out of committee and have full hearings and then pass them in both full houses, in 14 days, yet we are 197 days, 197 days since we introduced the tool kit legislation that nearly every mayor in New Jersey has said is absolutely necessary regardless of party, and after 197 days of—I want to make sure I get this right—extensive effort to properly analyze reforms and develop a real plan of action, this is what we get. No legislation, no detail, a two-page press release and a press conference, I'm sure coincidentally, scheduled one hour before mine which we noticed last night. Maybe they needed 198 days to come up with something a little bit better than this, but this is all we have...