Bill Brennan for Governor - Issues

Each of the problems faced by New Jersey arises from an absence of integrity. Our pension system, our infrastructure and our environment are in need of an emergency response because we placed our trust in leaders who abused it. New Jersey’s ample resources were plundered in a manner of corruption that has become the hallmark of New Jersey politics. Unless and until we elect a governor with integrity we cannot expect anything to improve.

New Jersey consistently ranks in the top 10 most expensive states in which to raise a family. $8.33/hr is inadequate to provide food, housing or health care in any state let alone New Jersey.  Raising the minimum wage to $15/hr will stimulate our stagnant economy by putting purchasing power into the hands of those most likely to spend it, lift thousands of workers out of poverty and ease the public assistance burden carried by taxpayers who subsidize low wage earners.

Incentivizing the use of renewable energy and moving away from fossil fuels is the single most important action we can take to protect ourselves from the catastrophic consequences of climate change.

Protecting New Jersey’s open space from overdevelopment has been a lifelong endeavor for Bill. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation and we are paving over what is left of our open space at an alarming rate while at the same time our inner cities are crumbling. Before we destroy another acre of open space we must revitalize our urban centers.  Bill Brennan plans to harness the unused infrastructure of these cities and revitalize our state’s economy.

New Jersey has a history of diverting fines and settlements from polluters to our general fund. Dupont, Ford, Exxon and a host of profitable corporations have fouled our water, air and soil and then paid pennies on the dollar for the damage they caused. Pollution must never again be a means for anyone or anything to derive a profit. Bill intends to ensure that pollution becomes so costly that no corporation will consider it as a means of boosting profits. Ensuring that polluters pay for the damage they inflict and demanding that those payments go toward remediation (rather than corporate tax cuts) is part of Bill’s firm and direct stand against corporate pollution for profit.

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Our policy on marijuana prohibition is founded on outdated “Reefer Madness” propaganda. The costs associated with investigating, arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating non-violent marijuana users are an obscenity that we can no longer afford.  Criminalization creates an underworld of unregulated dealers who sometimes resort to violence in order to protect their bootlegging enterprises. Legalized hemp and marijuana as an industry will bring much-needed jobs, tax revenue and economic activity to New Jersey while reducing unnecessary expenses.

Prohibition disproportionately affects minority communities and renders otherwise law-abiding citizens unemployable. Restoring these citizens to the workforce will reduce the burden on public assistance programs, increase tax revenue and improve the quality of life of non violent marijuana offenders who are disenfranchised from many aspects of society.

Our decaying factories are an ideal place to grow and harvest this multi-billion dollar crop. We have a unique opportunity to create an industry of good paying jobs that reside entirely within our state’s borders. From harvest, to wholesale to retail operations – federal law requires that all of that economic activity remain within our borders.

Colorado has proven that the end of prohibition is the beginning of a flourishing economy. Whether the business includes Hemp as a textile, extracts for baking or paraphernalia for consumption, all of the jobs and sales are exclusive to New Jersey’s economy. As it stands today, the underground market is untaxed, unregulated, prone to control by a criminal element and unabated by government’s failed effort at prohibition.

When we mislabeled our efforts as a war on drugs, we classified sick and addicted individuals as enemies rather than fellow citizens in need of medical care.  It is long past time to admit that the war has been lost. We must begin to face the drug epidemic as a health issue and not a criminal issue.  Bill Brennan proposes shifting the resources that are dedicated to incarcerating non-violent users toward treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration programs that don’t make enemies out of family members, friends and neighbors who are afflicted with addiction.

In addition to my position of ending the war on drugs and restoring the rights to those unjustly put in prisons, I would use the office of governor to end the discriminatory nature of our judicial system. The Clinton Era “tough on crime” approach has left blood on the hands of Democrats as well as Republicans, by mandatory minimum, three strike, and juvenile detention laws.

Mandatory minimum laws are not only costly to the taxpayer, they target those who are unable to afford a lawyer, which are the low-income and minority communities of New Jersey. 3 strike laws are irrational and do not begin any dialogue or reflection about the root cause of someone in a situation where they commit illegal acts repeatedly due to their social circumstances, not the nature of that person themselves. Juvenile detention centers unfairly begin the poverty and crime cycle of black and Latinx communities in the most formative years of human life. We must make a serious effort to shift from a system that rests upon endless occupation and oppression towards one where community values are reflected by law enforcement, citizens, and elected officials and their daily relationships.

Beyond being a policy that counters Trump’s despicable promise to break up families and criminalize the existence of many New Jersey residents, the idea of a sanctuary state maintains our values. By turning our local law enforcement into federal immigration enforcers, we are essentially creating a new system of crime. Similar to the way the War on Drugs turned non-violent users into criminals in the eyes of the state, Trump’s vision will do the same to the undocumented.

Anybody who fears a family member, friend, or even themselves will be deported will avoid the police at all costs in fear of what they may do. If someone commits a crime against them, they are no longer able to rely on the protection of those who are sworn to protect them. Instead, for many the only route will be submission to those who wish to take advantage or taking matters into their own hands. This means more crime, less cooperation with police, and less safety in our communities overall. Instead, we must realize our values of community-based policing: instead of perceived as an occupying force, law enforcement ought to act as fellow community members with relationships built between themselves and those they serve. A sanctuary state status in New Jersey will prevent a divide being created between police departments and these communities, reinforce our values of equal protection under the law, reject the dangerous notion of a person’s identity and existence as “illegal”, and increase safety for all citizens.  My Attorney General will order that ICE agents leave weapons and handcuffs outside every state, county and municipal buildings under their protection so that law abiding undocumented immigrants can avail themselves to the services and protection of local government.

Bill proposes a 10% surcharge on all corporate profits for any company operating in New Jersey where the CEO earns more than 100 times the median pay of all its employees. Portland, Oregon recently adopted this tax as a first step in addressing income inequality. Bill would like to see this at a national level and will place New Jersey at the forefront when it comes to dealing with the growing problem of income inequality.

The election of Donald Trump while republicans are in control of Congress is a cause of concern for progressives throughout our country. Bill Brennan has a demonstrated track record of standing up to governmental abuse. Given these troubled times we need a fearless public advocate in the office of governor. Protection from a federal government that seems poised to act in a blatantly unconstitutional manner on many fronts is not something we have needed in our lifetime. There is no candidate other than Bill Brennan who has dedicated his life to holding public officials accountable. Now more than ever we need a leader who is not afraid to stand up for New Jersey.

There is no doubt that Pilgrim Pipeline will leak. The only open questions are:

· How long before the first leak?
· How many times per year will these foreseeable leaks occur?
· How long will these foreseeable leaks spill before they are even noticed?
· How much of the cleanup cost will be shifted onto the backs of taxpayers?

As Governor, Bill will not allow dangerous pipelines to cross through our water supply or jeopardize safety near our schools, hospitals and public safety centers.

The only people who would benefit from this pipeline are the Pilgrim Pipeline owners and their politically connected investors. This oil is currently shipped by barge and is exported rather than used in NJ. We bear the risk, the company reaps the reward and foreign sovereigns get the oil.

The pipe has no value unless it can pass through our state.  The land and water the pipe travels through provide this company it’s profits, not the pipe.

The fresh water supply for 4 million people is far more valuable than anything investors in worthless pipe can offer in exchange for putting our water at risk. Our state is not a conduit for dangerous environmental pollutants.

The Office of Governor has the authority to stop this pipeline dead in it’s tracks, Bill Brennan is taking a firm and direct stand against the Pilgrim Pipeline.

Bill intends to make NJ’s energy supply 100% renewable more pipelines are not part of his plan. It is time we turn the page.

For more information on the Pilgrim Pipeline please visit: www.stoppilgrimpipeline.com

New Jersey has a perverse incentive for public officials to violate the law and generate campaign contributions as a reward. We are inundated with litigation from whistleblowers and other people who are having their rights trampled on by abusive public officials. Invariably attorneys are retained to defend despicable conduct and the taxpayer ends up defending the indefensible. Ultimately these cases settle and the perpetrators escape punishment, in fact the perpetrators often receive campaign contributions from the lawyers who represented them. Bill insists that a public official found by a jury to have violated the rights of a citizen or employee suffer consequences. Bill’s efforts at holding Governor Christie accountable for Official Misconduct are an example of how our system has been hijacked and put to work defending misconduct rather than prosecuting it – that ends when Bill takes office.

New Jersey’s Public Employment Retirement System is the single largest issue facing the State of New Jersey. Our unfunded pension liability is more than 3 times the state’s annual revenue. Tax money that once went toward services and infrastructure must now be spent on higher bond rates when we borrow. Bill’s plan will have an immediate and positive impact on our state’s credit rating.

Bill Brennan’s plan:

  • does not raise taxes
  • returns the state pension system to solvency
  • restores retiree cost of living adjustments (eliminated due to the crisis)
  • increases/improves the retirement benefits for public employees
  • decreases the employee rate of contribution for employees
  • places all public employees in a single tier, and

 

How can we fund this?

Currently 12.4% of every public paycheck goes into the Social Security Trust Fund. Half of that comes from employee wages while the other half is paid as a matching contribution from the public employer.

Bill’s plan diverts the employer’s 6.4% from the social security trust and into the pension fund. The remaining 6.4% is deposited in an employee controlled 457 deferred compensation plan. https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/irc-457b-deferred-compensation-plans. This employee owned and controlled fund will grow to between $400,000 and $1,000,000 depending on years of service and salary.

This proposal is a win for taxpayers and workers alike:

  • Workers have their rate of contribution reduced to pre-crisis levels
  • Workers accumulate between $400,000 and $1,000,000 dollars in a tax deferred 457 retirement account.
  • Retirees have their Cost of Living Adjustments restored
  • Without raising taxes or cutting services, the state fully funds a retirement system that was pillaged by 4 separate administrations
  • New Jersey’s Bond rating improves.

 

If you asked yourself:   “How do we simply stop contributing to social security?”

Then you will be surprised to learn that public employees are not entitled to participate in the social security program. The state must seek permission to enroll and must have a Section 218 agreement in place with the IRS, before employees can enter the system.  https://www.ssa.gov/slge/overview.htm

Bill is the only candidate with an actuary approved solution to the most serious fiscal constraint our state has ever faced.  This solution saves the state billions of dollars while giving workers more money during their career and in retirement.

$15/Hour Minimum Wage

New Jersey consistently ranks in the top 10 most expensive states in which to raise a family. $8.33/hr is inadequate to provide food, housing or health care in any state let alone New Jersey.  Raising the minimum wage to $15/hr will stimulate our stagnant economy by putting purchasing power into the hands of those most likely to spend it, lift thousands of workers out of poverty and ease the public assistance burden carried by taxpayers who subsidize low wage earners.

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After decades of neglect New Jersey’s answer to structurally deficient bridges and roadways has been orange traffic cones and reduced weight limits on bridges. This neglect is costing us millions in lost productivity, time wasted in traffic, vehicle repairs and traffic fatalities. Moreover when the trades who maintain our infrastructure are forced onto unemployment we compound our self-inflicted economic harm and depress our economy.

During the Brennan Administration, structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges shall be repaired or replaced in earnest. Our recently increased gas tax shall not be diverted to the general fund nor will that tax go toward funding outrageous corporate tax cuts.

The various “authorities” (Port Authority, Highway Authority, Delaware Bridge and Tunnel Authority, Turnpike Authority, Sports and Exposition Authority, etc.) shall not be co-opted for political purposes and will be held accountable by a governor concerned with public service rather than higher office. In addition all new infrastructure will incorporate a renewable energy component, bridges will harness hydro power from the rivers they cross, covered roadways will incorporate solar panels, high points on infrastructure will generate wind energy and deep borings will include geothermic capacity. Synergistic opportunities will no longer be squandered.

Th­­e Port Authority Bus Terminal and NY’s Penn Station are functionally obsolete and structurally deficient.  These facilities must be constructed in a single modern and efficient transit facility. Visionless politicians who don’t use either facility are planning on moving both facilities further west at separate locations.  Adding time to anyone’s commute is the wrong direction.

The lease at Madison Square Garden is up in 5 years – it is an ideal site for a new bus terminal.  Bill’s plan provides bus and rail access that includes the LIRR, Amtrak and Subway lines  A,C,E, 1,2,3,7.  Travelers will no longer be forced onto the streets to transfer from busses to trains or vice versa within a half mile of each terminal.

Collaboration between the Port Authority, NJ Transit, the LIRR, the NYC Subway and Amtrak would: spread construction costs among more agencies, streamline travel, reduce congestion and solve a problem that exists merely because these facilities were once competitors and were built at separate times.

As with every public project under the Brennan Administration, the new infrastructure will incorporate wind, solar, geothermic and waste energy capture as part of its design.  Reducing commuting time by millions of hours while saving tax dollars and improving our environment is the right direction.

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We have a political system that fills public offices with candidates who can raise the most money for their campaign rather than those who can most effectively serve their constituents. Our system lends itself to the buying and selling of public office rather than a principled occupancy by dedicated public servants. Bill proposes that all state and county elections be publicly funded and each candidate be required to run his campaign with the same financial constraints as the next. Candidates will not assume office owing favors to contributors but rather they will owe their voters honest and effective public service.

It is easy for a candidate to propose programs that are popular. Bill intends to pay for his proposals with the following revenue receipts and cost saving plans. The net effect of these policies will provide more than one billion dollars every year in resources with which to tackle our problems. Bill’s solutions generate economic activity and will spur our stagnant economy, the exact opposite of what Chris Christie has done for the last seven years.

Estimated revenue 600-700 million per year – Increasing the state income tax on income over $750,000 by 2% will bring in 600 – 700 million dollars in additional tax revenue.  Two pennies per dollar on income over $750,000 is not a lot to ask from New Jersey’s wealthiest residents.

Estimated revenue $100 million per year – Colorado took in over $70 million in marijuana tax revenue last year. New Jersey has a larger population, a higher sales tax rate (6.7% versus Colorado’s 2.9%) and higher levels of income; therefore projected revenue of $100 million a year is a conservative estimate.

That $100 million in new revenue is in addition to savings on law enforcement, corrections, prosecution and the judiciary. The revenue and savings are augmented by billions in economic activity that will remain within our borders because of federal prohibition.

The farming, harvesting and distribution of this crop will constitute a shift from untaxed “off the books” smugglers and dealers to law-abiding companies and workers. Prohibition has prohibited nothing but progress.  The existing untaxed multi billion dollar black market must be legalized and taxed.

Our vacant factories are in need of a product, our unemployed citizens are in need of jobs and our strained services are in need of revenue.  It is time that our policies reflect the truth.

Estimated revenue undetermined – Under the Christie administration New Jersey suffered a record 10 consecutive credit downgrades. These downgrades require us to pay a higher interest rate on our Bonds. That interest does nothing for our economy, builds no infrastructure and employs no workers – it is simply lost revenue. Bill’s plan to restore the pension system to solvency will result in credit upgrades that save us billions in Bond interest.

Estimated revenue undetermined – Corporations that currently pay their CEOs more than 100 times the median wage for their employees will face a 10% additional surcharge on their earnings. Whether or not they pay that surcharge or increase wages is entirely up to the corporation.  Whatever course is chosen, New Jersey will receive additional tax revenue from either the increased wages of employees or the 10% corporate surcharge.  A CEO earning $150 million dollars per year is unlikely to spend any additional income, a wage earner taking home $50,000 per year is likely to spend every additional dollar received thereby stimulating economic growth.