Tag Archive: California

California’s Pension Change — A Cap on Pensions

Thoughts, Blue Jersey? 12mileseastofTrenton’s already started off a discussion. Promoted by Rosi.

I started this diary to promote discussion about California’s AB340, passed in 2012, that changed California’s pension system.  It didn’t solve the whole problem but achieved important financial savings.

One of the main elements was a cap on the pensionable income.  The cap would be at the same level as Social Security.  So for now, it would be $110,000.  In other words, a worker would only accrue a pension based on their average income unto $110,000.  So in effect, if they earn a 50% pension (based on 25 years service), they would receive $55,000 a year.

Such a cap would preserve current pensions for low and middle-income workers but reduce pensions for upper-class workers, for whom pensions are not as necessary.

I know, I know: there are a lot of $110,000+ workers in NJ who are doing important jobs and $110,000 isn’t much in New Jersey.  But the same can be said of California.  But we have to find savings somewhere.

Yes to Oprah. No to Suffering Kids

Yesterday, the Assembly passed a bill that would facilitate palliative care for children by allowing them access to certain marijuana-related drugs. The bill next goes to Governor Christie’s desk where he will decide whether or not to allow parents to access these drugs in order to ease the pain and suffering of their children. These small kids suffer seizures and other medical conditions and often require expensive hospitalization. The drugs would not cure these symptoms, but would make the little children’s lives less unpleasant and do not produce the “high” that is associated with marijuana.

After the bill passed, several parents asked for an audience with the Governor, presumably to urge him to sign the legislation. Incredulously, the Governor refused to grant them even a few minutes – instead pawning them off on a staffer.

It’s difficult to understand the Governor’s priorities. He apparently has time to gallivant across the country to promote himself and his education-industrial complex buddies. But he doesn’t have the time to meet with parents of New Jersey kids suffering from debilitating diseases. He has the time to be in photo ops celebrating Federal dollars that Senator Menendez and the late Senator Lautenberg secured for hurricane relief, but says the use of medicinal marijuana is a slippery slope to making New Jersey more like California.

I don’t see the right-wing using the term “compassionate conservative” any more. Perhaps even they can’t live with that lie.

Open Thread: All Eyes on the United States Supreme Court

GSE amicus curiae brief. Click to enlarge.

“The arc of the moral universe is long. But it bends toward justice.”

– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King 1929-1968

Beginning this morning, history will be made at the United States Supreme Court. Today, in oral arguments before the Court, advocates make the case that there exists a constitutional right to same-sex marriage that states may not deny. The case is California’s Prop 8, which voters passed in 2008 to define marriage as between a man and woman. It ended the joyous rush to the alter of same-sex couples after that state’s Supreme Court made it legal. The legal challenge worked its way through California courts, now to the highest court in the land. The Obama administration’s Department of Justice is arguing for an “8-state solution” that would bring marriage equality to New Jersey, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, and Rhode Island — on the grounds that Prop 8 and other “separate but unequal” civil union/domestic partnership laws are violate equal protection. The Supreme Court also hears DOMA this week; it is the law of the land, but the Obama administration has already declined to defend it.

One of the many amicus curiae briefs submitted on behalf of the gay California couple at the center of today’s case comes from Garden State Equality. Read it here. New Jersey is, in all ways except by law, a marriage equality state. By 2-1.

I’ve been thinking all day of the many, many people who brought us to this moment. Among gay people, it is mainly those whose names we will never know because our laws forced them to live their lives and fall in and out of love in secrecy and often in fear. Along with those who spoke out.

Gay people are waiting for justice, in a country that often fails to provide it. Women know this. Immigrants know this. Disabled people know this. Black people know this.

As gay people await these decisions, so do straight people like me. What is right is right. We all live better when the people around us are treated as they should be. The gay rights movement follows a path set down by the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and heroes known and unknown. But it also takes that movement’s great lesson; that we move forward as a nation when we give a damn about the people around us; their lives, their freedom, their opportunities, their happiness.

The arc of the moral universe is long. It bends toward justice. Good luck, everybody.  

Where’s Christie Now?

New Jersey is in the midst of an economic crisis, spurred on by the failed Christienomics. New Jersey is the only state economy in the Mideast region – which includes Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. – that shrank last year. Our economic output shrank last year, ranking 47th out of all the 50 states in terms of growth and our gross domestic product decreased 0.5 percent in 2011, making New Jersey one of six states that registered a negative rate of growth.

You would think with such dismal economic indicators our Governor would be working fulltime to get New Jersey back on track… You would think…

Instead, Governor Christie is traveling around the country touting his “successes.” According to the Star Ledger, Governor Christie has left New Jersey 54 times in the past eight months and an ABC News political blog notes that Christie is averaging 1.5 days per week outside of the state.  

With such a prolific travel schedule, it is no wonder that New Jersey’s economic troubles have managed to slip the Governor’s mind. It is hard to remember the problems in your own state when you’re out campaigning on behalf of Tea Party darlings and presidential candidates.

The only question I have is: Where’s Christie now?

California’s Breaking News on Prop 8 Stirs NJ Activism

Garden State Equality is using a decision in the California court system that came minutes ago as a jumping off point to ramp up activity and create waves to impact the NJ legislature, even as two dates loom which could change everything for gay couples in love in this state. The full Senate will consider NJ’s marriage equality bill Feb. 13. The full Assembly follows 3 days later. Both come after companion bills were passed out of both houses’ Judiciary committees over the last few days, following 10 hours of often-emotional testimony. Chris Christie, his sights set on his national GOP street cred at least as much as his responsibility to do the right thing in this pro-equality state, has signaled his intention to veto. Unknown if there are enough votes to overturn that veto, and some of those votes may still be in flux.  

Less than an hour ago, a 3-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, serving California, ruled that state’s Proposition 8, banning marriage equality, is a violation of the United States Constitution. The case is widely seen as destined to be decided in the United States Supreme Court.

In a message sent wide to GSE’s NJ supporters, founder Steven Goldstein wrote this:

Jump with me …

Election Day News Roundup & Open Thread for Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011

Today’s the Day!

Vote Today 

 Shuffling the Deck Chairs

 Other Political News

 Christie is Consistent in his Inconsistency

 Victory in the Battle of Trenton


The Next Election

 I Miss NJN

 New Jersey Parks

 New Jersey Roads

 Is Scarlet Fever the Cure for Penn State’s Offense?

 The Chutzpah Award goes to…




Gov. Brown’s Progressive Budget Alternative

promoted by Rosi

We all know that Gov. Christie has ruled out any and all revenue-side solutions to New Jersey’s fiscal problems. The State Treasurer just reiterated that Christie would veto any tax extension, even a surcharge on New Jersey’s wealthiest and most comfortable residents.

Our governors next door, Gov. Corbett in Pennsylvania and Gov. Cuomo in New York, have made the same promises. They refuse to look at an entire half of the budget ledger, preferring to “share” the sacrifice with everyone but the rich. So one might wonder, since both Republican and Democratic governors are taking this approach, maybe there’s no other way to fix our fiscal problems?

Well, there is an alternative. Gov. Brown in California, confronting one of the country’s most severe budget deficits, has proposed a

balanced budget solution that is essentially fifty percent revenue enhancements and fifty percent spending cuts. While Gov. Brown knows that his proposed spending cuts will be painful, he is drawing a line in the sand and refusing to acquiesce to Republican demands to shield the wealthy from their responsibilities. Republicans are even proposing additional corporate tax cuts while simultaneously claiming the state is going bankrupt.

Watch Gov. Brown in his own words below. He’s not going to give in without a fight — hopefully we can get Gov. Brown into one of Christie’s “town halls.” I know he’d refuse to be shouted down.