Highlights Importance of Gateway Project to Replace Century-Old Rail Tunnels
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean said that Penn Station track repairs announced by Amtrak that will result in more than a year of potential rail delays show the great cost of delaying critical infrastructure work. The projects follow on the heels of several recent service disruptions that caused massive delays for NJ Transit commuters into Manhattan.
“New Jersey commuters will once again pay the price for Amtrak’s failure to properly maintain its rails,” said Kean. “Recent derailments and service disruptions have demonstrated the risk of deferring maintenance on Amtrak’s aging rail infrastructure. It seems likely that work that may have caused a minor inconvenience at an earlier date will now result in major long-term delays. Amtrak should do everything possible to minimize the impact on commuters.”
Kean Joins Bipartisan Group of State Leaders to Urge Federal Government Support for Gateway Tunnel Project
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean joined a bipartisan group of state leaders who called on the federal government to continue support for the Gateway Tunnel trans-Hudson rail project:
“Advancing the Gateway Tunnel project is critical to protecting New Jersey commuters and the region’s economy. Recent serious disruptions to rail traffic have highlighted the need for immediate action. It is imperative that the federal government reaffirms its commitment to Gateway, which will allow us to continue planning for this important project.”
Following the April 3 NJ Transit train derailment, Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. released the following statement reaffirming his support for investing in the Gateway Project, and other infrastructure projects benefiting New Jersey commuters.
The April 3 derailment occurred less than two weeks after a NJ Transit train was sideswiped by a derailed Amtrak train at New York Penn Station.
“NJ Transit riders cannot afford any more major disruptions that put their safety and their job security at risk,” Senator Kean (R-Union) said. “The Gateway Tunnel would provide one-seat rides to Manhattan on every NJ Transit rail line, alleviate congestion and ensure that New Jersey commuters reach their destination safely and without delay.
“There seems to be a bipartisan agreement among State and Federal legislators that investing in transportation infrastructure projects is critical to creating jobs and securing longterm economic growth, not to mention protecting the thousands of tri-state area commuters who rely on mass transit. Two train derailments in fewer than two weeks should be enough to make this a top priority.”
Senate Republicans Propose School Funding Reforms to Improve Opportunities for Students, Provide Property Tax Relief for Families
Proposals Eliminate Abuses, Establish More Equitable Funding for Overlooked Students in Underfunded Districts
In an effort to improve educational opportunities for New Jersey students and provide real property tax relief to overburdened families, New Jersey Senate Republicans released a series of school funding reform proposals as the starting point for discussions on the replacement of the state’s failed school funding system.
“Senate Republicans want to fix the broken school funding formula that has failed too many students and devastated middle-class property taxpayers,” said Kean. “We’re ready to roll up our sleeves to negotiate a funding formula that works, and we’re prepared to come to the table with detailed solutions that we believe will improve educational opportunities statewide and make New Jersey more affordable.”
During his Budget Message last month, Governor Christie challenged the legislative leaders of both parties to join with him to work on a new funding formula to replace the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 (SFRA).
Governor Chris Christie has signed legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean (R-Union, Somerset) to fund upgrades and improvements at New Jersey’s public colleges and universities.
The law, S-2897, appropriates the remaining $34.3 million from the “Building Our Future Bond Act,” voter-approved legislation sponsored by Senator Kean to fund capital improvement projects at public institutions of higher education statewide.
“More and more high school grads are choosing to pursue a career in STEM-related fields, such as nursing or engineering. They shouldn’t have to travel out of state to study at a school with a state-of-the art research facility or lab,” Senator Kean said. “This appropriation will help our top-notch colleges and universities evolve to meet the needs of incoming students.”
Legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean to transfer governance of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) from the New Jersey Division of Pension and Benefits to a newly empowered PFRS Board of Trustees has been approved by the New Jersey Senate.
Kean sponsors the bipartisan measure, S-3040, with Senate President Stephen Sweeney.
“The police and fire unions covered by PFRS spent two years researching this proposal, including meetings across the country with representatives of other states’ pension systems to learn what works and what doesn’t,” said Kean. “This proposal represents the culmination of that diligent effort. I have no doubt that they have the best interests of all their members at heart, and was glad to work on this innovative approach to help strengthen the pensions earned by our first responders.”
The following editorial by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean was published by the Star-Ledger on February 17, 2017:
As the New Jersey Senate debated a pair of symbolic resolutions on immigration last week, a new bill that has the potential to devastate our state budget and cause unbelievable harm to New Jersey taxpayers was introduced by Senate Democrats with little fanfare.
This new legislation, S3007, follows a proposal floated by President Trump to withhold federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration law enforcement efforts.
The president’s proposal has yet to become actual federal policy or law.
Still, Democrats in the state Senate rushed forward with an ill-conceived response which would require the state to reimburse local governments for the loss of any federal funds resulting from their status as a sanctuary jurisdiction.
Legislation sponsored by Senator Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union, Somerset, Morris) to help homeless individuals during severe winter weather events was passed by the New Jersey Senate.
“We saw just last week the kind of nasty cold and wet weather a New Jersey winter can bring,” Senator Kean said. “Now, we’re one step closer to ensuring that more of our state’s homeless individuals have a warm shelter to stay on harsh winter nights.”
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean was gaveled down by Senate Democrats and called “out of order” for urging the New Jersey Senate to take action on a number of issues of importance to the people of New Jersey.
Senate Democrats later blocked efforts by Senate Republicans to bring the following three bills up for a vote that would address New Jersey’s crisis of affordability and help to rebuild residents’ trust in government.
- S-1557 (Beck) – Provides full forfeiture of pension of elected or appointed official convicted of any crime touching office.
- S-1888 (Doherty) – Establishes State Transportation Cost Analysis Task Force.
- S-2554 (Kyrillos) – Sets level for health care benefits; requires employee contributions; prohibits reimbursement of Medicare Part B; adds member to SHBP/SEHBP plan design committees; requires retirees to purchase health care through exchanges.
Included below are the full remarks that Kean was blocked from delivering during the Senate’s floor discussion on S-3:
“In his State of the State address on January 10th, Governor Christie called on the Legislature to pass this critical reform that’s before us today to help battle our state’s growing opioid epidemic.
Kean Urges NJ Senate Democrats to Spend Less Time Criticizing Washington & More Time Working to Fix New Jersey
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean called on New Jersey Senate Democrats to spend less time criticizing Washington and more time working to fix problems here in New Jersey:
“With Senate Democrats so focused on federal affairs in Washington, they’ve ignored work on reforms they have the power to advance in Trenton that could have a real impact on the lives of every New Jerseyan.
“They’ve planned votes to express opposition, but they haven’t planned any votes on cutting property taxes, nor have they planned votes on creating opportunities for students and job seekers, or on ethics reforms that would help to rebuild trust in our government institutions.