N.J. legislative changes proposed to foster compromise, sharpen focus

The top Republican in the Democratic-controlled New Jersey Assembly wants to create legislative panels to focus on long-term planning and problem solving.

The bipartisan committees could tackle a range of issues including the pension system, the school funding formula, and business incentive programs, said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick.

“This strategic long-term planning committee would look at phasing in 401(k)s while preserving the pensions for those who’ve earned those pensions, and working with actuaries and experts on how to revamp that system long term,” he said Monday as he introduced his plan.

Long-range planning is also needed to deal with the state’s inheritance tax and estate tax, also known as the death tax, he added.

“I assure you that this that is a significant threat to the stability of this state. This death tax is a death long-term to this state,” said Bramnick, R-Union. “People are planning now to leave.”

Bramnick also proposed a constitutional amendment that would make competition a key factor for legislative redistricting so that neither major party would have a 10 percent or larger voter registration advantage.

That, he said, would encourage lawmakers to be problem solvers instead of partisans.

“When you watch people vote, legislators vote, who come from competitive districts, they tend to vote differently than their caucuses sometimes because they understand they have to appeal to middle ground,” Bramnick said.

The earliest the measure might be on the ballot for voters would be November 2015, he said

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