1st District Republican candidates, Dave DeWeese for Senate and Sam Fiocchi and Suzanne Walters for Assembly, today announced a 7 point plan to reform the Legislature and get New Jersey working again. After a decade of mismanagement by Jeff Van Drew and the Democrat controlled state legislature, DeWeese, Fiocchi and Walters believe that a new common sense approach is needed to change the course of state government and get our economy back on track.
“If we do not learn from the lessons of the past decade, we will never move New Jersey out of the downward economic trend which was caused by the failed policies and irresponsible budgeting of Jeff Van Drew and the Democrat Legislature.” said DeWeese. “The New Jersey State Legislators are extremely unpopular, and for good reason. Empty promises and vague platitudes will not move this State forward. For that reason, we are advancing the following important and specific proposals to reform state government, create jobs and sustain economic growth for years to come. The people of New Jersey are telling us to get the Statehouse in order. Until we get control of this runaway legislature, we can do very little to help small business and entrepreneurs grow our state’s economy. These 7 points are the first necessary steps to broader legal and regulatory reform.”
- No Additional Taxes.
- Cap the Number of Bills that Legislators can Sponsor or Co-Sponsor.
- Impose a Hard Cap on State Spending and Pay As You Go.
- Direct Contact with Constituents.
- Provide Constituents with Accessible Information on Every Vote Cast.
- Empower Local Governments to Save Money.
- Return to a Part Time Legislature.
“These seven points are essential to gaining control of state government and creating an environment for economic growth,” added Fiocchi. “They will also serve to regain the trust of residents at a time when so many politicians have let them down.
As a small town Mayor, Walters highlighted the importance of these reforms for municipal governments and taxpayers across New Jersey.
“These reforms will finally give municipal governments the tools they need to control costs and stabilize property taxes,” noted Walters. “We must roll up our sleeves and make the tough choices without regard for popularity to ensure that we hand the next generation of New Jerseyans a state that more affordable and full of the same opportunities we inherited.”
1. NO ADDITIONAL TAXES: DeWeese, Fiocchi and Walters pledge not to vote for any additional taxes. The people of New Jersey are already over taxed. There is no room for any new types of taxes in this State. Our goal is to find ways to lower taxes as reforms and savings permit. In keeping with the pay-as-you-go approach, any new spending must be paid by real, recurring revenue that has not been generated by tax increases or through cuts in spending in other budget areas.
2. CAP ON BILLS: No individual Legislator should need to propose as a main sponsor or co-sponsor more than 6 new laws in any legislative session. Even at this limit, the potential exists for the imposition of over 700 new laws on the people of New Jersey as a result of one legislative session. This volume of new laws is absurd. Laws should not be passed to justify the existence of the Legislature or to grab “feel good” headlines during election years. Citizens are swimming in more and more laws every year. Many of them are necessary, but scores of them are simply needless, special interest enactments or politically motivated laws. Our goal should be less government intrusion in the lives of people, not more. Laws are the route that government takes to impose itself of the citizens. We should be very careful in the enactment of our laws so that each new law serves a legitimate and limited purpose designed to serve the interest of the people, not the interests of state government. We are currently drowning in a sea of laws that stifle our productivity and our entrepreneurial spirit.
3. A HARD CAP ON STATE SPENDING/PAY AS YOU GO: The legislature imposed a 2% cap on local spending. It is time for a hard cap on state spending. The people of New Jersey should never again be faced with the prospect of out of control state spending and Enron-style accounting in the state budget. State government should be limited to increasing spending no more than the rate of inflation plus 2%. On a nearly $30 Billion budget, this permitted increase amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending. But we shouldn’t stop there. There should be no spending increases that are not paid for by a reduction in spending somewhere else in the budget or by realizing additional revenues without increasing taxes. This pay-as-you-go approach must be implemented in order to ensure that any spending increases are paid for with real dollars and not through accounting gimmicks or smoke and mirrors.
4. DIRECT CONTACT WITH CONSTITUENTS: Our current Legislators have virtually no public interaction with their constituents. They never put themselves out for questioning and never appear before large groups to report on their work and submit to the concerns of those they represent. This interaction is a critical component of public representation and something we take for granted on the local level. When elected, DeWeese, Fiocchi and Walters will conduct monthly town hall meetings, with the media invited, where they will take questions from their constituents on any subject. Legislators should not simply go and hide and prepare for the next election, they should present themselves to the public on a regular basis for direct contact and questioning. Listening to the concerns of your constituents is an important function of a Legislator. This process will permit DeWeese, Fiocchi and Walters to regularly hear the concerns of their constituents.
5. ACCESSIBLE INFORMATION ON EVERY VOTE CAST: Right now, our Legislators play a game of cat and mouse with their votes in the Legislature. When they vote in favor of things their constituents might not like, they clam up and hide. When they vote on something they think their constituents might support, they launch a full-on media blitz. These tactics are a corruption of the legislative process for political purposes. DeWeese, Fiocchi and Walters will be different. We will maintain an active website and presence on social media that will immediately report every single vote we cast and detail the subject matter. There will be no hiding the ball when DeWeese, Fiocchi and Walters are in the legislature. The public will know exactly where we stand on all issues and won’t have to drill through the Legislature’s website. No leader can be on all sides of every issue. Trying to convince voters that you are in favor of something and against it at the same time is deceitful and disrespectful to the people of our district.
6. EMPOWER LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: Many of our local elected officials have excellent ideas on how to consolidate functions, share services and lower local property taxes. Yet, they constantly run into roadblocks with state government bureaucrats. DeWeese, Fiocchi and Walters will propose legislation to empower local governments to pursue these cost saving approaches without the burden of the heavy hand of Trenton. Under the DeWeese, Fiocchi and Walters plan, local governments will be empowered to pursue consolidation through the revision of civil service regulations and make major budgetary changes regardless of the time of year. In exchange for these important tools, municipalities will be required to prepare a two-year consolidation employment plan that will allow employees whose positions may be eliminated an opportunity for lateral transfer or placement with other entities or movement to the private sector.
7. RETURN TO A PART-TIME LEGISLATURE: The State Legislature was never intended to be a full-time body churning out laws nearly 365 days a year. DeWeese, Fiocchi, and Walters will propose legislation to limit the amount of time the legislature may meet and the purposes for which it may convene. Benjamin Franklin said that the most dangerous time for the people is when the Legislature is in session. There is great truth in this observation. The Legislature should meet for specific limited purposes and for limited duration. DeWeese, Fiocchi and Walters propose that the Legislature change the way it conducts itself, by holding two annual business sessions. The first session would commence on February 1st and end on May 31st, and during this session, the Legislature would be empowered to deal solely with budgetary matters and emergency legislation necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of the State of New Jersey. By limiting this first session to budgetary issues, the Legislature will be forced to focus on fiscal responsibility and completing a budget well in advance of the Constitutional deadline of July 1st. The second session would commence on October 1st and end on November 30th. This session would be for general legislation with important limitations as detailed in Number 2.