Tag Archive: Vincent Prieto

Environmental Kumbaya (Almost)

New Jersey Senate Energy and Environment Committee Chairman Bob Smith noted today that on the environment, there should be no disagreements. Of course, we know that this is not the case with our current governor who puts the interests of his dirty energy donors ahead of clean air and water for New Jerseyans.

Several bills and resolutions were heard at Smith’s committee this morning. All but one passed with unanimous, bipartisan support. There was universal agreement on technical items related to the Environmental Infrastructure Trust (low-interest loans for certain projects), and the installation of automobile charging stations at rest areas on New Jersey’s major tollways.

The capstone of today’s meeting was SCR-163, a proposed amendment to the New Jersey Constitution to “dedicate all State moneys received from settlements and awards in cases of environmental contamination for certain environmental purposes.”

Comments that might counter the state’s pension fund position

The unions presented to the court their pension arguments on April 20 and on Friday the state presented its arguments in response. Also on Friday Senate President Steve Sweeney and General Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto re-stated to the court their position that the pension law “was considered constitutional at the time of its enactment, remains constitutional, and clearly creates a contractual obligation to systematic funding of the pension systems.”

Sen. Sweeney over the weekend said the Democratic-led state Legislature will fully fund New Jersey’s public worker pension system next year … with an addition of $3.1 billion for this year and next. Left unstated is that paying out the current year requirement of $1.6 billion in the next two months is impractical. He did not explain where the money will come from, but he is sending a message to the judiciary that the State can reasonably accommodate the obligation. Gov. Christie, using fear-mongering tactics, has argued that to make full payment would require raising the sales tax from seven percent to ten percent or increasing the income tax by 29 percent.

The unions won the first round in Superior Court. The showdown is scheduled before the NJ Supreme Court on Wednesday May 6. Below the fold are some further comments that might counter the State’s position.  

An Interview with Assembly Leadership

Chairing the Assembly Budget Committee seems to be an excellent path to higher positions in that body, at least for the current Speaker and Majority Leader. Both Vincent Prieto and Lou Greenwald are former chairs of that important committee. So I started off this interview asking them what to expect in tomorrow’s budget message from the governor. We also spoke about related issues like the gasoline tax and the inheritance tax. Education, Atlantic City, and the Port Authority were also discussed.

Opt-in Nursing Home Surveillance: Good Idea or Bad idea?

Surveillance Cameras. They’re everywhere. On the streets of our cities. In the stores where we shop. In the bars and restaurants that we frequent. Soon they’ll be on every police officer on his or her beat. Now, Assembly Speaker Prieto wants to put them in our nursing homes as well.

Today, the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee moved Prieto’s bill (A3883) that would allow nursing home residents or their legally designated guardian to monitor the activities in the resident’s room using electronic surveillance. The idea is to reduce abuse and give family members peace of mind that their loved one is being cared for correctly.

The proposed bill contains some safeguards such as requiring permission of roommates for the installation of monitoring devices, and imposing civil penalties on anyone who abuses the recorded data.