Author Archive: Assemblywoman Connie Wagner

North/South Divide over Higher Education should end now

Important – Assemblywoman Wagner, a member of the Joint Higher Education Committee, parts ways with Sen. Steve Sweeney’s response to U.S. Sen. Lautenberg’s call for a federal review of the proposed merger of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan universities. – promoted by Rosi

As a member of the Joint Higher Education Committee on the merger of Rowan, Rutgers and UMDNJ, I had the opportunity to listen to the passionate testimony of over 100 individuals who represented varied interests.  

I came to the meeting with an open mind and the hope that two questions would be answered.  Would this merger offer expanded educational opportunities for the students of New Jersey and would this plan provide for a more efficient less costly method of delivering higher education to the students of New Jersey?  

Sadly enough, the plan offered little in the expansion of choice for the students of South Jersey and offered no financial details as to how this can occur.  

The plan simply needs more work.  The four month deadline is absurd.  There are too many questions that need to be answered.  The first one is how to pay for this.  I heard estimates from as low as 40 million dollars each year to millions upon millions of dollars to make this happen.  In addition, I struggle to have Rutgers Camden Law and Rutgers Camden Business School simply go away and be turned over to Rowan.  

The students in South Jersey deserve an opportunity to have a choice of Rutgers Camden or Rowan.  A possible alternate, if we are looking to cut down costs and offer more opportunities, would be to form a consortium of the two schools in order to share services, grants etc.

The Rutgers-New Brunswick UMDNJ piece of the consolidation also needs more work.  How will this merger affect University Hospital and how will this merger help or hinder the progress of Newark’s revitalization program? During his testimony, Mayor Corey Booker quoted an African Proverb when he stated, “Go fast, you go it alone.  Go slow and you go together. ”  

Thank you

promoted by Rosi

This past November, with your support, I was re-elected to the State Assembly to represent Bergen and Passaic Counties.  I am honored to have earned your trust and respect over the past 4 years as your Assemblywoman.  I’ve never considered myself a politician, but always a public servant.  I have been elected to serve the people of New Jersey, something many elected officials forget, which is truly the most important part of our job.

Our state and country face many challenges and it will take the efforts of Democrats, Republicans and everyone in between to improve the quality of life for all Americans.

Public education has been the backbone of America and at every turn there are those seeking to dismantle it.  Higher education is becoming out of reach for many of our high school graduates due to escalating tuition.  Our environment and our health are being put at risk at a time when we should be embracing new technology to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy.  Government inefficiencies and outdated ways of doing things continue to keep the costs of running government too high.  Unemployment and underemployment are rampant, jobs continue to be shipped overseas and the middle class in America is struggling to survive.

These are among the major issues dear to my heart, issues that I have fought, and will continue to fight, to address.  In what capacity I can best tackle these challenges is a question I am now confronted with.

Protect Collective Bargaining

Citing a strong belief in the principal of collective bargaining and protecting workers’ rights, Bergen County Assembly members Valerie Vainieri Huttle(D- 37), Gordon Johnson(D- 37), Joan Voss(D- 38) and Connie Wagner(D-38) released the following joint statement:

“We were dismayed to learn that this Monday the Assembly Budget Committee will be hearing a bill which will forever alter the way of life of NJ’s low-income and middle class workers.”

“Through our careers as elected officials we have stood up for those that cannot fight for themselves and for the constituents we represent.  This is one of those times where we will stand together to protect our low-income and middle class families from a burden that should not be placed on their backs.”

 

Scott Garrett Sells Out Bergen County Again

Welcome to Blue Jersey, Assemblywoman Wagner. – promoted by Rosi

He’s done it again. On what should be a wonderful day for education in New Jersey with the passage of a federal education aid bill, Bergen County has been sold out once again by Congressman Scott Garrett. Instead of joining colleagues like Senator Frank Lautenberg, he voted against a bill that will save 3,900 teaching jobs in our state. For any other member of Congress, this would be seen as a shocking betrayal of our children and hardworking school teachers. But for Congressman Garrett, it’s just another day at the office.

It should come as no surprise that Congressman Garrett has voted against health care reform, financial regulatory reform and the entire recent Democratic legislative agenda. After all, nearly all Washington Republicans voted in lock-step against these bills. But did you know that Congressman Garrett voted against health care funding for 9/11 first responders? Or that he was one of only 11 members of Congress to vote against aid for Hurricane Katrina victims? He voted against funding the prosecution of hate crimes, against stopping offshore drilling, against mandating child safety locks on handguns and against preventing oil companies from price gauging. And now, he has added another vote to this sordid list – voting against saving 3,900 teaching jobs in New Jersey.

The federal aid contained in this bill could not have come at a better time for New Jersey’s teachers and students. Governor Chris Christie’s budget cut $820 million in education funding, and a recent survey by the New Jersey School Boards Association showed that 80% of schools would have gone into the new year with fewer teachers, before the passage of this bill. Numerous studies have shown that overcrowded classrooms hurt educational development. That’s exactly where we were heading before this crucial vote.

Besides the case for our children, there’s also another important reason to support this bill – unemployment. Congressman Garrett, Governor Christie and the Republican Party want us to think public employees like teachers, police officers and firefighters are not real people with real jobs that provide real service to our community. Of course, we know that is far from the truth. With unemployment still hovering near 10%, needlessly firing 161,000 teachers nationally, 3,900 in New Jersey, would have been a catastrophe. Now, instead of filing for unemployment, these men and women will return to the classroom and educate our children, while continuing to pay their mortgages and purchase goods and services, helping the economy remain on a path toward recovery.

Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner recently referred to teachers and police officers as “special interests” while attacking the education aid bill. Clearly, this distorted view is shared by Congressman Garrett, since he’s so determined to stick it to them that he’s willing to vote against saving 3,900 jobs during a recession. For a politician who labels himself a job-creator, this is nearly incomprehensible.

Despite the best efforts of Congressman Garrett, the education aid bill passed the House and the Senate and is awaiting President Obama’s signature. There are many aspects of economic recovery that are out of the government’s control, but providing funding to keep teachers in the classrooms and off the unemployment rolls certainly is not one of them.

There will be many more important votes in Congress soon, and it can sometimes be hard to determine what your Congressional representative stands for. But with Scott Garrett, it’s easy – he stands for nothing.