TRENTON – Come January, Democrats in the New Jersey Assembly will have a 51 (or 52) seat majority over Republicans, the largest difference since 1979. Today, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) was reselected as his party’s leader in the lower legislative branch. Now, Bramnick and his fellow Republicans are asking Democrats how they plan to solve issues that are plaguing the state.
According to Bramnick and his fellow leaders, now is the time for Democrats to put forth ideas on how to fix the nearly drained Transportation Trust Fund, the high property tax burden and the school funding formula, among other issues.
“The Democrats have picked up a few seats and now they have an opportunity to present their plan,” said Bramnick at a Wednesday State House press conference. “What is your plan to address the Transportation Trust Fund? Put it on the table. What are they going to do about property taxes?”
Bramnick said that the recent election—and the time period leading up to it—actually set the state back in terms of talking about solutions to issues.
“This election was all about negative, personal attacks,” said Bramick, focusing on the ad in LD11 against Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini, one of the GOP incumbents not reelected to serve in the legislature in 2016. He also said that much of the Republican loss was due to the “special interest money” that Democrats had pouring into the state ahead of the election, something that is hard for the minority party to compete with.
“It is not easy to find special interest money as Republicans in a Democratic state,” said Bramnick referencing the approximately 700,000 more voters registered Democrat that Republican.
According to Bramnick, negative ads that that were funded by special interest money won’t cut it now that Election Day has passed. He also said that Republicans are ready to discuss plans to move the state forward. Bramnick said that includes the idea, which he has said he would possibly support, to impose a gas tax dedicated to the TTF if fair cuts from areas like the the estate tax were considered.
“Where are the negotiations, ask them,” Bramnick said. “We are here. We may be the minority party but, mark my words, we won’t be the silent party.”
Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Anthony M. Bucco (R-25) also spoke at the press conference, encouraging Democrats to look at the bills Republicans have already put on the table.
“We have a lot of legislation in our caucus that will solve these problems,” Bucco said. “Will they post those bills? The solution to many of these problems is already out there.”
Bucco also echoed Bramnick’s sentiments that the assembly GOP was ready and willing to work with Democrats.
“I read that [Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto] was willing to work with us,” Bucco said. He also said that, while the currently proposed bills by Republicans may not be the final solution, Democrats should attempt to compromise on those bills.
According to Bramnick, Democrats can act during the coming Lame Duck session to start to address state issues using the current 48-seat majority.
Other assembly Republicans like conference leader David Rible (R-30) and whip Scott Rumana (R-40) also spoke about the need for solutions.