Democrats swore in their largest majority in the state Assembly in 37 years Tuesday, but the lower house’s leaders urged its members to work in unity and avoid the kind of bickering that has plagued politics across the country in recent years. They also agreed New Jersey’s sky high property taxes should be their focus.
Jon Bramnick, asked his colleagues to “make a promise” to draft meaningful, bipartisan policy in the new legislative session. Both Prieto and Bramnick said lawmakers’ focus should be relieving New Jersey’s property taxes, among the highest in the nation.
In addition, Prieto once again touted his concept of the state gas tax to help fund the nearly broke state Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for transportation projects across New Jersey. And he said he is open to the Republican idea of cutting New Jersey’s estate tax in return. “Nobody wants to pay more at the pump,” Prieto said. “We want to make sure we are fair to everybody.” In a speech Tuesday, Sweeney — a likely Democratic candidate for governor next year — called for strong leadership and a strong agenda.
“What we want to avoid is what we see in Washington. Too much partisanship. Too much posturing. Too few results,” he said. “Leadership is what gets things done in this house.” Sweeney praised both Republican and Democratic lawmakers for their work on reforming juvenile justice, preserving open space and improving transparency in Superstorm Sandy recovery. Looking ahead, he said the Senate needs an “aggressive blueprint that tackles our state’s biggest challenges.” The planks mentioned in his remarks Tuesday mimic a platform he rolled out last year that focuses on early childhood education, college affordability, transportation, public-private partnerships, neighborhoods and retirement security.
“There are enormous things, great things this house can do when we work together, and we’ve proven that,” Sweeney said. “Whosever idea it is that makes sense that’s going to improve the quality of life for the people in this state, I’m supporting it. I don’t care if it’s a Republican or a Democrat.” Like Sweeney, Kean urged the body to work together to cut taxes and grow the economy. “Let’s strive to serve not just as responsive and responsible legislators, but be remembered as responsible caretakers of this chamber, the Legislature, but most importantly, the state of New Jersey.”