Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Raymond J. Lesniak for Governor of New Jersey

Raymond J. Lesniak for Governor
I have agreed to volunteer for the senator and we have now added the Raymond J. Lesniak for Governor campaign at the Sustainable Action Network (SAN)!

I will be calling on you for signatures and for support. Below are the platforms we are beginning or have already begun to implement in New Jersey:


ANIMAL PROTECTION


Protecting Elephants and Rhinos from Extinction & Cruelty

I am proud that New Jersey, The Humane State, was the first state in the nation to ban transactions in Ivory and rhino horns under legislation I sponsored.

Don’t Bring Your Trophies Into New Jersey

My legislation made it a criminal offense to transport through New Jersey, The Humane State, “trophies” of Lions, Tigers and other threatened animal species.

Banning Puppy Mills

My legislation, S63, banning sourcing of dogs and cats from Puppy Mills has passed the Senate and been released from Assembly Committee. It awaits further action in the Assembly and the Governor’s signature.

Ending Bear Hunts

My legislation, S2702, Pedal’s Law, which establishes non-lethal methods of black bear management, has been released from Senate Committee and awaits Senate and Assembly action and the Governor’s signature.

Banning Leghold Traps

My legislation, S2750, to ban Leghold Traps authorized by the NJDEP in 2015, has been bottled up in the Senate Environment Committee.

Banning Elephants In Traveling Circuses

Nosey’s Law, S2508, has passed the Senate and awaits action in the Assembly and the Governor’s signature.

Banning Gestation Crates

my legislation vetoed by Governor Christie after intense lobbying by the pork industry in Iowa when he was campaigning for president has been re-introduced, S2786, and awaits a new governor.

Banning Shark Finning

My legislation banning the cruel, painful practice of catching a shark, cutting off its fins and dumping the shark back into the water to bleed to death was stymied in the Assemby last legislative session. I have reintroduced it, S2044. It awaits Senate and Assembly action and the Governor’s signature.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION


I have sponsored the most progressive environmental protection laws in the nation. New Jersey needs as governor someone who will continue the fight to protect our environment.

Overturn ExxonMobil Settlement

Oral argument will soon be scheduled on my appeal of Governor Christie’s giveaway to ExxonMobil. I sued Exxon and the NJ petrochemical industry and won in Lesniak v. United States to make them pay my surcharge to cleanup abandoned hazardous waste sites. This surcharge and my sponsorship of ECRA cleaned up tens of thousands of contaminated sites and saved New Jersey from an environmental disaster.

Eliminate threats to our Drinking Water Safety

Governor Christie has ignored 12 testing recommendations of hazardous contaminants by the Drinking Water Quality Institute established under my Safe Drinking Water Act. I have sponsored S2468 to adopt those recommendations despite Governor Christie’s objections.

Get The Lead Out

Priority funding must be appropriated to remove lead lined pipes in school districts and lead paint in public housing.

Stop the Pipelines

Three proposed natural gas pipelines, Penn East, South Jersey Gas and Pilgrim Oil present serious environmental hazards and little if any benefit to New Jersey residents.
Penn East: Threatens drinking water from the Highlands to the Pinelands. NJDEP should exercise its authority under the Clean Water Act since the route does not avoid wetlands.
South Jersey Gas: Through the fragile Pinelands which hold 17 trillion gallons of pure water, this proposal violates the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan and should be rejected.
Pilgrim Oil: Should be rejected because it’s of no benefit to NJ and threatens endangered species, wetlands and critical habits.

Get Back Into RGGI

Christie withdrew New Jersey from this 10 state compact to trap and reduce CO2 emissions hurting our air quality and costing more than $100 million of revenue from the sale of emission allowances to promote clean energy initiatives.

Support President Obama’s Clean Power Initiative

Unlike Governor Christie’s Attorney General, New Jersey will not challenge President Obama’s Clean Power Initiative to reduce CO2 emissions and curb climate change. As a coastal state, New Jersey is on the front line of a disaster from unabated global warming.

Clean Trucks

The No. 1 contributor to New Jersey CO2 emissions is transportation and old diesel trucks are a large part of the problem. My legislation, S2507, will get these dirty trucks, which are particularly troublesome in neighborhoods leading to ports in Newark, Elizabeth, Jersey City and Bayonne, off the road.

Water & Sewer Infrastructure

A ticking time bomb that threatens the health, safety and quality of life of residents in communities throughout the state, a multi-billion dollar bond initiative must be passed before the threat of sewer overflow and contaminated water becomes a reality.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM


New Jersey has led the way ending mass incarceration with my legislation repealing most mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses which exclusively targeted minorities in urban areas reducing our prison population by 50% for drug offenses, 20% overall.
I expanded treatment for addicted offenders instead of prison so they could get an opportunity to be sober and lead a productive crime free life.
I was prime co-sponsor of Ban The Box which gives ex-offenders a fair shot at employment.

I am advocating legislation to:

  • Sign legislation I sponsored which Governor Christie vetoed to end the abuse of solitary confinement.
  • Enact legislation I sponsored, Presumptive Parole and Earn Your Way Out, which will further reduce the prison population by 20% and will begin re-entry at entry into prison rather than upon release from prison so inmates are given an opportunity to come out of prison as better persons than when they entered prison.
  • Close two prisons as a result of enacting Presumptive Parole and Earn Your Way Out saving tens of millions of tax dollars and gaining tens of millions of tax revenue from development of the closed prison sites.
  • Require the Attorney General to investigate all killings by law enforcement and a special prosecutor, appointed upon recommendation by the NJ Chief Justice, for killings by State police, to ensure the public’s confidence of our criminal justice and fund dash cams and body cameras for police.
  • Aggressively lobby Congress for universal background checks for all gun purchases. More than 70% of gun violence in New Jersey involve guns from other states.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Students and their families now pay—or borrow—much more than they can afford to get a higher education. New Jersey exports more college students out of state than any other state, a trend which will have grave consequences for New Jersey’s future economy.
Overall, New Jersey’s higher education funding fell from its peak of $2.33 billion in 2006 to $1.93 billion in 2013, a 17 percent decline. Funding per full-time equivalent student has fallen 29 percent since 2006.
I will reverse this trend which will make New Jersey more affordable for students and their families.
I have sponsored the Public-Private Partnership Act which allowed The College of New Jersey to develop a Campus Town, Montclair State University to develop a state of the art residential complex, Stockton College to develop classrooms and a museum, Rowan University to develop a Technology Park, William Paterson University to develop a Solar Energy Facility and at New Jersey City University, University Place, 163 market-rate apartment units, 10,000 square feet of retail, 177 structured parking spaces, two bike terminals and more than 25,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor amenity space enhancing not only the University but also downtown Jersey City.
Making Higher Education Affordable
  1. Cap loan payments after graduation at 10% of take home pay.
  2. Increase State aid per full time student by 30%.

HOUSING THAT’S AFFORDABLE

Housing in New Jersey is not only unaffordable for low income residents, it’s often unaffordable for those earning above the state’s medium income as well. That’s why, in addition to legislation I sponsored to transform abandoned foreclosed homes through bundling and financing through the NJ Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency for occupancy by low and moderate income families, which was vetoed three times by Governor Christie despite support from realtors, bankers, the League Of Municipalities and not for profit and for profit housing developers, I will as Governor:
  1. Establish the Mortgage Foreclosure Transformation Act vetoed by Governor Christie three times.
  2. Provide $650 million tax credits for housing development in low and moderate income neighborhoods to rebuild inner city neighborhoods and establish housing that’s affordable for not only low but also moderate income families. The tax credits will pay for themselves and more so by stabilizing neighborhoods and attracting businesses deterred from moving to New Jersey because of our high cost of housing.
  3. Approve Tiny Homes legislation so seniors, empty nesters, homeless can have a safe, comfortable, and affordable place to live.

INCOME INEQUALITY

I believe workers should not have to work at poverty wages. We should follow New York City’s lead by increasing the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 per hour by December 31, 2018 and for airport workers immediately and by December 31, 2019 for all workers. Also workers should be eligible for 12 weeks of paid family leave in 2018. The time may be used for caring for family members during a serious health condition. Workers should have paid sick time. It has been proven to increase productivity and helps keep fellow workers from getting sick as well.

WOMEN’S RIGHTS



Just two years after Roe v Wade, and one year after I graduated law school, I litigated Ponter v Ponter 135 N.J. Super. 50 (1975) 342 A.2d 574 which established a woman’s right to choose to have a sterilization operation.

Other candidates for governor talk the talk, but I’ve walked the walk.

  • Equal Pay For Equal Work
  • Support For Planned Parenthood
  • Paid Family Leave
  • Strong Laws and Support For Victims Of Domestic Violence
  • Affordable Higher Education
  • Universal Health Care
  • Tax Credits for Day Care
  • Incentives For Women Majority Owned Businesses

LGBT RIGHTS

“Senator Raymond Lesniak is as fearless and successful a champion of social justice as any other state legislator in the country. Millions of people owe their better lives to Raymond’s passion for equality and justice that he exudes every day of his career. And the thousands who know him personally owe our better lives to his massive heart that he shows us every day of his life. If you have faced hardship because our society unfairly discriminates against who you are, Raymond Lesniak fights on your behalf – and wins – like Muhammad Ali at his prime.”

Steven Goldstein, Founder & Former Chair of
Garden State Equality

Marriage Equality

I am the proud prime co-sponsor of Marriage Equality and was not deterred when it only received 13 of 24 Democratic votes! I co-authored a book with Senator Weinberg, The Case for Same Sex Marriage and hosted the first same sex marriage in my Elizabeth home for Marsha Shapiro and Louise Whalpin.
Lead the fight that stopped Anti-LGBT Ocean County Freeholder Jack Kelly, who tried to deny Ocean County Police Lieutenant Laurel Hester’s dying wish to leave her pension benefits to her domestic partner Stacie Andree, from getting a plush pension padding $120,000/year patronage position on the New Jersey Parole Board.
I was the Senate sponsor of New Jersey’s ban on the abusive “conversion therapy”.

“Senator Ray Lesniak has taken a leadership position in New Jersey as a Champion of LGBT rights and Equality. From his proactive role in adding transgender people to the bias crimes statute, to making a stronger more effective anti-bullying bill for all, to his unyielding efforts in getting a majority vote for marriage equality for all LGBT people in the legislature, he has stood tall!”

Barbra CasbarSiperstein, Director
GRAANJ (Gender Rights Advocacy Association of NJ)

I am advocating legislation to:

  • Aggressively fight any federal and state rollbacks of LGBT rights.
  • Ban state paid travel to any state that violates LGBT rights.
  • Support services for gay and transgender boys and girls and men and women.


PUBLIC EDUCATION


New Jersey ranks second in the nation in student achievement in our public schools but we rank last in having the largest gap between the best schools and the worse. My experience leads me to believe we are also at the top of spending not getting into the classroom. Click here to see my views on Cutting Waste In Government Spending.
  • I would focus on supporting wrap around community schools in low income neighborhoods that would provide family services from pre-natal to three years old, the most important time in the development of a child’s ability to learn.
  • On Charter Schools, I would make them accountable by the same standards that are applied to district schools. 
  • Also, I would hold harmless for three years state aid to schools losing students to a charter school so adjustments could be made by the sending schools which otherwise would immediately lose state aid.

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES


A top priority of the governor, legislators and public employees and their unions must be to secure the fiscal integrity of the public employee pension and health benefits. No employees, public or private, should have to worry about the security of their pension and health care, but worry they must because left unattended the funds will be depleted in ten to twenty years. Every New Jersey resident must also worry because without reform, backbreaking tax increases or devastating cuts across the board in state programs will be necessary to keep the public pension and health care funds solvent.
  • The state must keep its obligation to fully fund its share of pension and health care benefits. To accomplish that without draconian cuts in other vital responsibilities of government, a tiered millionaire’s tax to raise $1bil. a year for the pension and health care funds must be enacted. This millionaire’s tax will have marginal impact on only 1% of residents. Those impacted have received a $500 mil. tax cut when the legislature phased out the estate tax.
  • By keeping its commitment to the pension funds as “guaranteed” in Chapter 78 (Which I voted against and spoke out against at two public rallies), reducing the cost of health care benefits must be negotiated. To reduce costs, a prescription analytical company can be brought in to renegotiate prescription drug costs. Medicare options should be explored and negotiated. These cost saving are substantial and can help alleviate the added costs paid by public employees under Ch. 78.
  • Pension padding through multiple jobs by elected officials and through political patronage positions of short term duration must be prohibited.
  • Sign legislation I sponsored that was vetoed by Governor Christie giving support staff grievance rights and contractual protections.
  • Use of high fee hedge funds to invest pension funds must be prohibited.
  • By focusing on economic growth which has been tepid under Governor Christie and ensuring strong and smart economic growth policies combined with careful evaluation of government structure and priorities state government will ensure that our primary obligations to the people of NJ, including pension and health benefits are fulfilled.

REDUCE PROPERTY TAXES


I will reduce property taxes for 443,300 seniors and citizens with disabilities by $1000 and by $800 for 209,500 homeowners earning up to $75,000, by doubling the state appropriation for the property tax reduction program from $322.5 million to $645 million. This is be accomplished by closing corporate tax loopholes that have been closed in 40 other states, increasing state revenues by $300 million, along with freeing up additional state revenues (See Cutting Government Spending).
For all homeowners, I will direct the Office of the Comptroller to focus on municipal and county unnecessary or inefficient spending to reduce the need for property tax increases.


WE ARE ALL DREAMERS


America is a land of immigrants, built by immigrants, defended by immigrants and economically prospered by immigrants. We have an obligation to:
  • Establish a path to citizenship for those who have lived in the United States, obeyed the law and paid their taxes (unlike President Trump).
  • Protect US citizen children from being torn apart from their parents.
  • Allow drivers licences for all residents so they can get to work, go shopping, drive their children to school.
  • In-State tuition (Which I co-sponsored) and student aid eligibility for all students from low-income New Jersey families. An educated New Jersey resident population improves the quality of life for all New Jersey residents.

CUTTING WASTE IN GOVERNMENT SPENDING


Direct The Office Of The Comptroller To Focus Exclusively On County And State Governments’ Expenditures And Make Cost Cutting Recommendations To Reduce Property Taxes.

Lesniak Willing to Sue Over $300M Renovation Christie Is Pushing for State House

A Comptroller of Education Will Save More Than $1Bil. That Doesn’t Get To The Classroom

Giving The Public A Voice & A Vote In Government To Serve As Watchdogs Over Political Dealmaking At The Port Authority & NJTRANSIT Can Save Millions Hundreds of Millions

Replacing Political Patronage Appointees On The Parole Board Will Save Tens of $Millions

NJ Spends 3-10 Times More Than Other States For Infrastructure Construction. Using Design Build Procurements As Done In 40 Other States Will Save Hundreds of $Millions

End Pension Padding Through Boosts In Salary By Patronage Appointments Before Retirement. Limit Unused Sick and Vacation Time Payouts

MAKING NEW JERSEY AFFORDABLE


This should be a number 1 priority of any elected official in New Jersey. Taxes are too high and housing is not affordable for many New Jersey residents. Government must be restructured and reformed to cut unnecessary expenses and the public must be given a voice and a vote to oversee spending by state agencies like the Port Authority and NJTRANSIT which have wasted billions of tax and toll dollars through political maneuvers without scrutiny by the public.
Learn more about Cutting Waste In Government Spending to see how the outrageous cost of road construction can be reduced, how more than a $billion a year can be saved by cutting education costs that don’t get into the classroom and by cutting corrections costs by eliminating the political patronage in our parole system. Also see how citizen oversight of the Port Authority and NJTRANSIT can save significant tax dollars.

ONE NEW JERSEY. ONE AMERICA.


We are living in troubled times. It’s our responsibility to make them less troubling. I am a member of Stand Up For The Other an organization with members of every faith who pledge to Stand Up For The Other. We have taken this pledge in cities across the globe. I recently lead the Pledge taken in the New Jersey Senate.

Pledge to Stand Up for the Other

Background
Racial bigotry, religious persecution, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or any other form of hatred cannot be wiped out unless each and every one of us confronts it within ourselves, our own circles of family, friends and others that we interact with. Silence is seen as consent. It takes courage to stand up for the other. It is important to prevent bigoted speech coming from public officials, but it is even more critical to focus on our own individual responsibility to prevent bigotry we may see around us. By taking this pledge, each one us can make a profound difference in the world.

The Pledge

While interacting with members of my own faith, ethnic, or gender community, or with others, if I hear hateful comments from anyone about members of any other community, I pledge to stand up for the other and challenge bigotry in any form.