Each year, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey asks State Senate and Assembly candidates 10 questions on hot button state topics and then publishes their responses.
Patch has been running this year's candidate responses, one-by-one. Up today, Richard Goldberg, a Republican State Assembly candidate
Previously featured have been:
Full Name: Richard S. Goldberg
Current Office: Mayor of Hawthorne
Address: 154 Beverly Road Hawthorne, NJ 07506
1. Property taxes concern many New Jersey residents. Do you think current programs, such as a cap on property tax hikes and rebates, are effective ways of dealing with them? What, if anything, do you think should be done about property taxes?
Richard S. Goldberg: Property tax caps are helping control our local property taxes, which is why I believe we must make them permanent. The caps themselves are not enough to do the job that is needed. We need to support the numerous initiatives that were designed to help manage taxes at the county and local level. The unfortunate problem is that they await action in Trenton and the Democratic-controlled legislature has refused to act upon them. I will work to get these initiatives passed in the legislature. We must help local governments gain the opportunities to share services between one another in order to help them find sound cost-cutting measures
2. In July, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released preliminary unemployment figures that showed New Jersey with a 9.5% seasonally adjusted unemployment rate. While this is comparable to the national average of 9.2%, it is higher than our neighboring states. What is your plan to lower New Jersey’s unemployment rate?
Richard S. Goldberg: Trenton’s culture over the last several years has been cantering to the special interest groups instead of listening to what the people of the state really want. The net result of this ‘culture’ has lead to massive spending, and the over-taxing of the citizens. This coupled with the over-regulating of businesses has made our state unappealing to job creators and has done serious damage to our economy. If elected, I will do what it take to make our state competitive in the national marketplace again by changing out current corporate tax structure, as well as working towards ridding our state of unnecessary regulations so that the state will be able to attract more businesses in order to provide jobs. I will also work towards promoting [truncated]
3. Currently, N.J legislators are working on the “Opportunity Scholarship Act” a pilot program providing tax credits to entities contributing to scholarships for low-income children. Do you support this pilot program and/or expansion of this program?
Richard S. Goldberg: Pennsylvania has a similar program called the Educational Improvement Tax Credit and it has been successful in that it awards 284,000 scholarships as well as saving property taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars every year. New Jersey should strive to emulate these results, especially because Opportunity Scholarships are targeted at helping our most vulnerable students. In addition, the Opportunity Scholarship Act can have positive impact on our economy as students are better prepared to enter the working world, which helps attract new jobs to our communities.
4. As a result of the current economic crisis and associated budget cuts, municipalities are receiving less state aid. What, if anything, do you propose on the issue of state aid to municipalities?
Richard S. Goldberg: As I stated earlier in question one, there are several initiatives that the Democrat controlled legislature are blocking in Trenton that have the potential to help the local governments reduce their spending and help generate revenue. If these legislations are passed the state will not need as much financial aid as has been necessary in the past. When discussing these issues, we need to focus less on the revenue side and more on our government’s expenses. The fact of the matter is that our government is suffering from the recession, just like our citizens, and therefore has less money to spend. Once we are able to cut costs then we will be able to focus more on the state’s revenue.
5. Do you think the state should fund family planning services? Why or why not?
Richard S. Goldberg: Taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortions. As for other family planned services, they must be examined in the same light as every other item that receives government funding (the taxpayers dollars) and we must ask ourselves the questions, “Are we able to afford them? Can they operate on lower budgets, or do we need to remove them? And are they more or less important than other governmental services that require taxpayer money?”
6. New Jersey’s energy needs are expanding. What is your plan to meet the increasing energy requirements in our state?
Richard S. Goldberg: The state must focus on initiatives that enforce both increasing supply and lowering the demand for energy by promoting public sector investment in alternative energies. We must focus on a comprehensive strategy that calls for an attention to both supply and demand, and not one aspect more than other
7. Charter schools were originally written into legislation to innovate and share those innovations with school districts. Is that the mission you see for charter schools still or do you believe their main purpose should be to provide parental choice?
Richard S. Goldberg: Party politics is getting in the way of helping our New Jersey residents. Charter school can meet their original mission if we simply allow them to lead the way in educational innovation.
The constant political bickering in Trenton is getting in the way of helping our people and allowing charter schools to deliver some form of parental choice, especially in areas where special interests have successfully blocked innovations from entering our public education system.
8. In a 2010 budget report, the United State House of Representatives identified the need for a focused study of hydraulic fracturing. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to complete the study by late 2014 with initial study results available by late 2012. As a New Jersey legislator, how would you approach the issue of hydraulic fracturing?
Richard S. Goldberg: As a state and a nation, we cannot ignore the economic and energy opportunities provided by development of the natural gas industry.
However, with opportunity comes responsibility to provide strong oversight of that development – and the hydro-fracturing that comes with it – to ensure that our environment and natural assets are well protected.
As a legislator, I will support strong oversight and regulation of the operation of natural gas drillers to ensure that safe development, and will continue to refine that oversight and regulation as new science on the issue becomes available. I don’t know how to rewrite this; I have no clue what this is talking about.
9. The NJ Transportation Trust Fund, which funds construction and repairs of New Jersey's bridges, highways, and mass transit system, has been under-funded and in danger of going bankrupt. There has been much debate over how to fund needed infrastructure development and repairs. How would you suggest funding New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure needs?
Richard S. Goldberg: I do not support a gas tax increase on working families. I believe we must control debt financing and ensure continued state funding of the Transportation Trust Fund. I would support a proposal that would provide $3.2 billion to the TTF, which includes federal and state funding of $1.6 billion respectively per year, as well as additional money what has been set aside for the ARC tunnel project. This plan also includes $200 million a year for local road projects.
10. The legislature has not enacted reforms to the state’s Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, despite recent Supreme Court (Gallenthin v. Paulsboro) and Appellate Court (Harrison Redevelopment Agency v. De Rose) decisions which call the existing statutes into question. If elected, how would you propose to update the state’s land use laws to conform to the above cited court decisions?
Richard S. Goldberg: The real issue we are presented with here is how the government uses eminent domain and how we can protect the rights of private property owners. Eminent domain can have a positive impact in terms of economic development, however, it must be a last resort and should be seen as such when drafting legislatures.