Entries in Assemblyman Jay Webber (4)

Wednesday
May162018

How Steve Oroho finished what Jay Webber started

In the Legislature, you can be a conservative in one of two ways... broadly speaking.  One way is to be a conscience, sit above it all, and vote accordingly.  You could not find a more perfect example of this than Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, who negotiates the prickly halls of Trenton with a Zen assuredness.  He always knows the right thing to do... and he always does it.  Instead of the wilting figure of John McCann, the YR's and CR's could do no better than to adopt Assemblyman Carroll as their Sensei. 

The other way is to wade into the muck in an attempt to climb aboard the ship of state and steer it in a more desirable direction.  Sometimes the engine isn't even working and you might need to get down into the boiler room -- knee deep in waste -- and grapple with the machinery of government, just to get it sputtering in some direction.

Assemblyman Jay Webber takes this course... to a point.  He seems well enough suited to steer, but when it comes to the engine room, he doesn't want to get his hands dirty.  That's where he differs from Senator Steve Oroho.  Oroho accepts that he will have to endure the heat and muck in order to get the machine running -- and he doesn't mind busting a knuckle or two while grabbling with a boiler wrench. 

A prime example are their differing approaches to preventing the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) from going bankrupt and ending the Estate Tax.  Two very conservative causes.  The TTF, funded by a gas tax, was right out of the Reagan mantra of using user taxes to fund public infrastructure.  Those who use the roads should pay for them, said Reagan, no free rides!  While the death tax -- which is what an Estate Tax is -- has been identified by conservatives for years as the destroyer of small businesses and the ruination of family farms.

Jay Webber waded into the issue assuredly enough.  On October 14, 2014, the Star-Ledger published a column by the Assemblyman.  It's title was "Fixing transportation and taxes together."  Webber was writing about how to raise the gas tax to re-fund the nearly bankrupt TTF, while offsetting that tax increase with cuts to other taxes.  He zeroed in on the Estate Tax: 

"NEW JERSEY leaders are grappling with three major problems: First, New Jersey has the worst tax burden in the nation. Two, New Jersey's economy suffers from sluggish growth. And third, our state's Transportation Trust Fund is out of money. There is a potential principled compromise that can help solve all of them.

Of the three problems, the Transportation Trust Fund has been getting the most attention lately, and for good reason: It's broke. There is just no money in it to maintain and improve our vital infrastructure. Without finding a solution, we risk watching our roads and bridges grow unsafe and unusable and hinder movement of people and goods throughout the state. That, of course, will exacerbate our state's slow economic growth.

...we should insist that if any tax is raised to restore the TTF, it be coupled with the elimination of a tax that is one of our state's biggest obstacles to economic growth: the death tax. By any measure, New Jersey is the most extreme outlier on the death tax, with worst-in-the-nation status... 

New Jersey's death tax is not a concern for the wealthy alone, as many misperceive. We are one of only two states with both an estate and inheritance tax. New Jersey's estate-tax threshold of $675,000, combined with a tax rate as high as 16 percent, means that middle-class families with average-sized homes and small retirement savings are hit hard by the tax. 

It also means the tax affects small businesses or family farms of virtually any size, discouraging investment and growth among our private-sector job creators. Compounding the inequity is that government already has taxed the assets subject to the death tax when the money was earned. Because of our onerous estate and inheritance taxes, Forbes magazine lists New Jersey as a place "Not to Die" in 2014. 

That's a problem, and it's one our sister states are trying hard not to duplicate. A recent study by Connecticut determined that states with no estate tax created twice as many jobs and saw their economies grow 50 percent more than states with estate taxes. That research prompted Connecticut and many states to reform their death taxes. New York just lowered its death tax, and several other states have eliminated theirs. 

The good news is that New Jersey's leaders finally are realizing that our confiscatory death tax is a big deal. A bipartisan coalition of legislators has shown its support for reforming New Jersey's death tax..." 

Taking Webber's lead, Senator Steve Oroho got to work and began the painstakingly long process of negotiation with the majority Democrats.  Oroho was animated by the basic unfairness that New Jersey taxpayers were under-writing out-of-state drivers to the tune of a half-billion dollars a year.  He understood that if the TTF went bankrupt, the cost would flip to county and local governments... resulting in an average $500 property tax increase.  Oroho went to battle to prevent this disaster and even had to stand up to Governor Chris Christie, who wanted to end negotiations too soon and accept a weaker deal from the Democrats.

Unfortunately, Assemblyman Webber didn't stick with it.  When the time came for Jay Webber to be counted as part of that bipartisan coalition, he couldn't be counted on.  Jay got scared off by the lobbyist arm of the petroleum industry and what's worse is that he started attacking those who did what he advocated doing only a short time before.  

Remember that it was Webber who wrote these words in that column more than three years ago:  "Any gas-tax increase should be accompanied by measures that will help alleviate, or at least not increase, the overall tax burden on New Jerseyans." Jay Webber wrote those words, setting the direction.  Steve Oroho was left on his own to get the job done -- to do the negotiating.  The helmsman had abandoned the engineer.  

Webber said at the time that he believed the bipartisan tax restructuring package worked out by the legislative leaders (minus Senator Tom Kean Jr.) and the Governor would result in a net tax increase.  Oroho and others disagreed with him.  Webber is by all accounts a good lawyer, but Oroho is the numbers man.  He's a certified financial planner and CPA.  Before beginning his career of public service, Steve Oroho was a senior financial officer for S&P 500 companies like W. R. Grace and  Young & Rubicam.  It was this knowledge that enabled him to fashion the compromise that he did -- one that turned out to be the largest tax cut in New Jersey's history. 

In the end, the Democrats' 40-cent increase on the gas tax was paired down to 23-cents.  The gas tax, the proceeds from which funds the TTF, had not been adjusted for inflation in 28 years, had not provided enough funding to cover annual operations in 25 years, and wasn't even bringing in enough money to pay the interest on the borrowing that was done to keep operations going (in 2015, the state collected just $750 million from the gas tax while incurring an annual debt cost of $1.1 billion).  Even so, Senator Oroho knew exactly where to draw the line... at the minimalist 23 cents and not the 40 cents the Democrats plausibly argued for. 

In the end, the engineer got the job done.  Senator Steve Oroho emerged from the boiler room triumphant.  He ended the Estate Tax and secured tax cuts for retirees, veterans, small businesses, farmers, consumers, and low-income workers.  He secured property tax relief by doubling the TTF's local financial aid to towns and counties -- and prevented a $500 per household property tax hike.  He made out-of-state drivers pay for using New Jersey's roads -- and ensured that New Jerseyans will continue to have safe roads and bridges to drive on.

Oroho's tax cuts were praised by conservative groups like Americans for Tax Reform and conservative publications like Forbes, which called his tax cuts "one of the 5 best state and local tax policy changes in 2016 nationwide." 

That's getting something done.   

Friday
May112018

Did Jay Webber abandon Passaic County conservatives?

In Bergen County, conservative Steve Lonegan has a full slate of county candidates running against the dregs of the BCRO and its hapless leadership, led by Paulie "the hand" DiGaetano.  There is a weirdness within the Bergen County political establishment -- Democrats and Republicans -- in that they derive great pleasure by mimicking the folkways of a traditional Mediterranean criminal elite.  We don't get it, but it seems to turn them on.

 

Over in Essex County, Assemblyman Jay Webber has his own slate of county candidates.  Webber, who has taken the phrase "Reagan Republican" and made it his own, was expected to link up with Lonegan in Passaic County -- where they both faced the county machine.   Whether this "machine" is the remnants of the once powerful organization that totally dominated Passaic County or the reconstituted second coming of the same remains to be seen, but it is still formidable nonetheless.  And so it made all the sense in the world for the two conservatives to link up in common cause.

But in the rush towards the April 2nd filing deadline, they failed to agree on ballot slogan and Webber raised objections to some of those candidates recruited by Lonegan.  "It became the Jay show," said one conservative activist. 

Webber bracketed his campaign with that of Brian Goldberg, a candidate for U.S. Senate.  Goldberg is running as a fiscal and social conservative this year -- a curious conversion from the social liberalism he displayed when he ran for the same office in 2014.  Lonegan was left with the conservative insurgents running for county clerk and freeholder.  Essentially, Webber split the movement and cut the conservative insurgents off his ticket.

The only way the county-level conservative insurgency was going to have a chance at winning was to be led by well-financed conservative congressional candidates in districts 5 and 11.  They have Lonegan in District 5 -- but that is just two towns (Ringwood and West Milford).  Webber booted them from his ticket in District 11 -- that's eight towns (Bloomingdale, Little Falls, North Haledon, Pompton Lakes, Totowa, Wanaque, Wayne, and Woodland Park).

To give our readers an idea of what this did, here are two sample ballots, one from a Ringwood, in District 5, and the other from Wayne, in District 11...

Now imagine how strong the conservative ticket would have been if it had stretched from U.S. Senate down through Freeholder in ten of the county's sixteen towns?  Instead, those conservatives running on the county level found themselves cut-off Jay Webber's ticket, all but assuring their defeat in the June primary.

Was this an act of treachery on the part of Webber?  Does he have a deal with the party bosses in Passaic County?  Why assure the defeat of the conservative insurgents and the ensure the hegemony of the machine?

There are many questions here but sadly only one certainty:  A great opportunity was missed to build a conservative infrastructure in the Passaic GOP.

Wednesday
May022018

Tony Ghee shows us how a Republican should behave

On the one hand, you have the campaign of John McCann, gleefully sharing every attack made by the Left on conservatives and his conservative opponent, Steve Lonegan.  While on the other, there stands Major Tony Ghee, United States Army.

Tony Ghee knows how to tell his friends from his enemies.  He is new to politics, but not so new that he's going to sit by and watch some scumbag liberals attack his Republican opponent's family.  Tony is a dad himself.

So Tony stepped up and stood with his opponent, conservative Assemblyman Jay Webber, against the attacks of leftists like Democrat State Senator Nellie Pou, who disgraced herself and her party.  Speaking of Pou, a supporter of Democrat congressional candidate Mikie Sherrill, here's what Tony Ghee had to say:

"Has our political discourse gotten so bad, that we need to drag the children of candidates into political statements about the critical issues impacting our community?"

"It’s 2018 and we should all be able to agree on three simple concepts:  political corruption is bad and should be repudiated by everyone, regardless of party; everyone deserves equal pay for equal work and government has a responsibility to ensure that; and the family of a candidate for public office is off limits, especially their children."

“This campaign should not be about scoring cheap political points, rather it should be about putting the people we are seeking to serve above partisan politics.  We need leaders who are dedicated to serving a cause greater than themselves or their party, because the issues at stake in this election are too great to be mired in soundbites and cheap petty politics. Senator Pou owes an immediate and unequivocal apology to the Webber’s for dragging their children into this campaign.”

Bravo, Major Ghee!

Meanwhile, back at the McCann campaign, one of his top supporters -- West Milford Republican Chair Matt Conlon -- actually sided with double-dipping Paterson Democrat Pou's attack on a Republican Assemblyman and his four daughters.  That is a real poor move by Conlon.

This is really unfortunate behavior for a local Republican leader.  Conlon is a bad role model.

We need more Republicans like Tony Ghee!

Saturday
Oct082016

In July 2008, gas hit $4 a gal, what happened?

 

Remember the mass starvation that occurred?  The displaced masses?  Thousands died.

 

No.  That's right, it didn't happen.  And it didn't happen in October of 2012, when the price per gallon again flirted with the $4 mark.  And it won't happen when the price per gallon goes to $2.15 cents, due to the 23 cents per gallon tax increase.

 

Despite what the petroleum lobby (AFP) and the foul-mouthed followers of the Tea Party tell you, it won't be the end of the world.  In fact, the roads and bridges that had to be closed because there was no money to repair them will now get done, and the world will run a little smoother.

 

The $8 million dollars in road repaving money promised by the state TTF to Sussex County will now be sent.  That means the county won't have to raise our property taxes next year by $100 to cover that $8 million.  A 105-year-old bridge in Byram will be replaced.  Dozens of other projects in townships and boroughs that would have been paid for by increases in local property taxes will now be funded by the increase in the gas tax.

 

In New Jersey, the killer tax isn't the user tax on gasoline and diesel, it is property taxes levied by county and local governments and school boards.  New Jersey has the highest property taxes in America and because of it, we have the highest foreclosure rate too.  It is foreclosure that is the breaker of families and the bringer of misery.   

 

All the energy brought to stop a tax increase was aimed at the wrong tax.  The gas tax hadn't been raised -- not even adjusted for inflation -- for 28 years. 

 

28 years ago, what did your property tax bill look like?  What is it today?  Did you pay more every year?  Didn't it just go up again this year?

 

The petroleum lobbyists at Americans for Prosperity ignored the very real property tax/ foreclosure problem and instead focused our attention on the gas tax because that is a tax on the product they sell.  We can at least understand that.

 

But the Tea Party doesn't have that excuse.  Led by a foul-mouthed national candidate and populated with a legion of rude, foul-mouthed Facebook warriors, the Tea Party is not someone your Mom would let date your little sister.  They are just in it for someone to hate.  It's the anger not the reason that matters.

 

Some examples:

 

An X-rated Tea Partier...

After announcing his intent to run as the Tea Party candidate for State Senate against Republican Steve Oroho, Kevin Mazzoti talks Trump to a voter:

 

 Kevin Mazzoti I'm disappointed in you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Who do you think you are? Are you the one sucking xxxxx off?

 

An Obama supporting Tea Partier...

A Facebook exchange between Franklin Mayor Nick Giordano and a constituent:

 

CONSTITUENT:  Don't talk conservative when you brag about voting for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama Mayor.

 

Franklin Mayor Nick Giordano: Yup cause I vote best candidate at the time not by party.

 

A two-faced Tea Party "hero"...

As a Freeholder, Gail Phoebus lobbied the Legislature to pass the gas tax to fund the TTF, then lied about it as a candidate, and voted against what she had lobbied for as an Assemblyperson. (Sussex County Freeholder Minutes, November 25, 2014)

 

A lost Tea Partier on Facebook...

Someone who lives hours outside the district, makes his obligatory threats:

 

I have been a life long member of the Republican Party.
Now I look forward to repaying you this favor at the ballot box in November.

 

A flip-flopping Tea Party "king"...

Assemblyman Jay Webber lectured other legislators on the importance of adopting a tax restructuring plan that included an increase in the gas tax and the phase out of the estate tax  -- then turned around and joined Marxists in attacking the plan he told others to support. (Star-Ledger op-ed by Jay Webber, October 14, 2014)

 

A Tea Partier melts down on Facebook...

At this time, I want you to know that I am going to be spending all my time and energy (outside of working hours) campaigning, writing, and calling everyone I know to VOTE YOU ALL OUT!!! (and it doesn’t matter if you are not in my district). Not one incumbent should be re-elected.

 

...The burden of the transportation infrastructure costs will now be carried EXCLUSIVELY by the people who travel to work every day.


Yes, by everyone who drives.  It is supposed to be.  It is a user tax -- the fairest form of taxation, according to Ronald Reagan.  Remember him?

 

...let me remind you that the roads and bridges are used by delivery people, EMT/Rescue personnel, fire trucks, mail delivery vehicles, package delivery, food delivery, telephone and utility (gas/electric) personnel, doctors and nurses who go to work, x-ray and medical technicians, teachers, etc. Now, remember, that people who do not drive utilize these services every day. Are they paying for the transportation costs? NO because they do not drive. The burden of the transportation funding needs to be carried by every citizen of this state.


In other words, New Jersey property taxpayers should subsidize the out-of-state drivers who use our roads.  By-the-way, 30% of those who use our roads are out-of-state drivers.  Wow...