Lou in the News

Greenwald on NJ Transit Fare Hikes: This is a Serious Blow to Working Families

Assembly Majority Office
July 15, 2015
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Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald chided New Jersey Transit's decision Wednesday to hike fares once again on hardworking New Jerseyans:

"This is a serious blow to working families who are still absorbing the near record hikes instituted five years ago. Not only are they having more money taken out of their pockets, but the agency is adding insult to injury by cutting services.

"When the average New Jersey worker's wages have remained nearly stagnant, the only way they can make up this difference is to either work more hours, if that's even possible, or to cut back on essential needs for their families. Either way it will have a negative impact on their quality of life.

"I'm disappointed the administration did not roll up its sleeves and find more creative solutions to close this budget gap. Fare hikes should be the absolute last resort, not the go-to solution every time New Jersey Transit finds itself in a bind," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington).

Majority Leader Greenwald Bill to Restore Tax Credit for Working People Now Law

Assembly Majority Office
July 7, 2015
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A bill sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Majority Leader Louis Greenwald to restore a tax credit that strengthens families by encouraging hard work and reducing poverty is now law.

The law (A-4602) increases the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 30 percent of the federal credit after years of Christie administration cuts to the successful anti-poverty program. The governor reduced the tax credit to 20 percent of the federal credit from 25 percent in his first budget in 2010, effectively raising taxes on low-income families by $45 million, and failed to restore it in subsequent years.

"The EITC has received strong bipartisan support over the last 40 years, because it is a manifestation of the fundamental idea that hard work should pay off," said Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson). "The governor's action on this issue is the right thing to do, but the right time to do it was years ago. Working people in New Jersey - men and women who want nothing more than to be able to support their families - deserved much better than being reduced to annual victims of the veto pen; Democrats always recognized that. Although we remain disappointed that he has yet to come around on the issue of tax fairness, we welcome the governor finally recognizing it, too.

Democratic Leadership Urges Governor to Make Upfront $1.3 Billion Pension Payment

Assembly Majority Office
June 29, 2015
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Democratic Leadership Urges Governor to Make Upfront $1.3 Billion Pension Payment

Early pension payment projected to earn $87 million in extra investment income, shoring up underfunded system and saving future tax dollars

TRENTON - New Jersey's Democratic legislative leadership today called upon Governor Christie to make the state's $1.3 billion budgeted pension payment in early July to shore up the underfunded pension system.

The Senate and Assembly leaders authored a concurrent resolution calling upon the governor to make the upfront payment using the state's line of credit. Plans are for the Assembly and the Senate to vote on the resolution today. Democratic leaders plan to discuss the resolution during an 11:45 a.m. news conference on fiscal issues.

"Making the $1.3 billion payment now, rather than waiting until next June, would generate a projected $87 million in additional investment income for the pension system over the course of the year," said Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester).

"That's $87 million that taxpayers will not have to put into the system in the future, and that money will continue to grow year after year after year," Sweeney said. "This is a no-brainer that should draw bipartisan support."

N.J. Democrats say they'll make good on $3.1 billion pension promise with budget

June 21, 2015
Samantha Marcus
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TRENTON — Democratic lawmakers on Monday are expected to reveal their plan for a state budget they say would bridge the gap between the $1.3 billion Gov. Chris Christie wants to spend on public worker pensions next year and the $3.1 billion unions are demanding.

That plan likely relies on the controversial millionaires' tax and a surcharge on corporation business taxes, and will resemble Democrats' efforts last year to restore $1.57 billion to pensions cut by Christie, sources with knowledge of budget talks say.

The last time Democrats proposed the millionaires' and business tax hikes, they were redlined by Christie. He's given no indication that he's budged from his opposition to the income tax increase, which all told he's vetoed four times.

Most observers expect that fate looms again as the state Assembly and Senate put the final touches on a budget that could spend $1.8 billion more on pensions than Christie's $33.8 billion spending plan.

The state Senate and Assembly budget committees are scheduled to take up the budget Tuesday in prelude to the full Senate and Assembly on Thursday. The fiscal year begins July 1.

While legislative leaders and the governor have met to negotiate on the upcoming spending plan, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) declared June 9 that there was no chance of a compromise budget.

Greenwald and Lampitt push bill allowing sick kids to use medical marijuana oil in school

June 22, 2015
Susan K. Livio
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TRENTON — As the family of a severely ill teenage girl in south Jersey sues for her right to consume medical marijuana oil at school, two state lawmakers Monday introduced a bill that would require school boards to set policies that would allow it to be used in schools across the state.

Parents or a person they designate would be required to come to the school and administer the medical marijuana dose in the form of an edible oil, according to the legislation. No one would be allowed to smoke marijuana on school grounds.

State Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt said she and Assembly Lou Greenwald (both D-Camden) were moved by the Barbours' plight. They also understand the challenge for school officials who fear they may violate federal drug laws by allowing cannabis use on school property.

"We both feel it's going to be a heavy lift," getting the bill passed, Lampitt said. "But when you put a face behind an issue like this, people realize there is a strong need. It's not arbitrary, it's real."