Professional Background: The candidate worked as
a special assistant to the Environmental Protection Agency during the Bush
administration and he also worked as an assistant to former Congressman Bob
Franks. Mr. Kean additionally served as a volunteer firefighter and
Education: Mr. Kean is a graduate of Dartmouth
College in Dartmouth, New Hampshire, where he received his degree in
history. He also holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy degree from The
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Boston.
Currently, he is completing his doctorate in international relations at
Family Life: The candidate lives with his wife
Rhonda and their two daughters in Westfield.
Government Experience: In 2003, the candidate
was appointed to replace former senator Rich Bagger in the New Jersey
Senate. In November of that year, he was formally elected to the State
Senate as a representative of the 21st legislative district. He currently
holds the position of Senate minority whip. He also is a member of the
Judiciary Committee and the Health, Human Services and
Senior Citizens Committee. Before being elected to the senate, Mr.
Kean served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 2001 to 2003. During
his time in the General Assembly, Mr. Kean was the chairman
of the Republican Policy Committee and worked as vice chairman for the State
and Organizations: Mr. Kean currently serves on the New Jersey Network (NJN) Community Advisory Board and is an
honorary board member of the Westfield Symphony Orchestra.
New Jersey is simply becoming too unaffordable for too many families in New Jersey. In order to stop the exodus of people from our state we must enact comprehensive reforms in Trenton.
a. PROPERTY TAX RELIEF THROUGH EDUCATION REFORM
Developing a new school funding formula is the key to providing hundreds of thousands of New Jersey families with lasting, sustainable property tax relief. It is indefensible that nearly a year after the governor identified the urgent need for a new formula delays have pushed the target date for the adoption of a new school funding solution out past the November elections.
Providing sustainable property tax relief for New Jersey’s middle class families through a new school funding formula should not be yet another cynical election year ploy. After suffering under the burden of flat school funding for five years, which caused record property tax increases and program cuts, suburban school districts received only a 3 percent funding increase in this year’s budget. This hardly makes up for the hundreds of millions of dollars lost during the last administration.
In order to successfully compete in the new global economy New Jersey’s young students need to be assured that any new school funding formula will provide impartial and unbiased assistance to everyone throughout the state. To do any less is a disservice to the students, families and teachers across the state.
b. ETHICS REFORM
To break the entrenched political culture of corruption in Trenton, the legislature must pass a comprehensive ban on pay-to-play and dual office holding immediately. While some progress has been made with new ethics regulations, several loopholes remain.
Pay-to-play is the direct connection between campaign contributions and government contracts. Under the current campaign finance system, the size of a contribution can outweigh the merits of a contract bid. The inflated contract costs, passed onto the taxpayers, are a corruption tax, and one of the drivers of increasing property taxes.
Common Cause, a non-partisan citizen’s watchdog group, estimates pay-to-play costs New Jersey taxpayers up to $1 billion annually.
Additionally, this legislation bans the practice of “wheeling,” the unlimited transfer of political funds between different county and municipal party fundraising committees. The abuse of this campaign finance loophole allows party bosses to expand their power into regions beyond their organizational boundaries.
Pay-to-play takes on many forms within New Jersey. Only a true, comprehensive ban like this legislation will restore integrity to our system and promote fair government contracts that save taxpayers money.
Dual office holding is the practice by politicians of coalescing power in more than one elected office to serve different constituencies. Dual office holders become insulated from accountability, suppress opportunities for other citizen activists to become involved in elected offices, and increase the tax burden through pay-to-play and inflated pork spending.
It’s time for New Jersey to follow the lead of at least thirty-six other states and ban the corrupting practice of dual-office holding outright. Recently, some progress was made. The Legislature passed a watered down ban that exempted all current dual office holders into perpetuity.
If it's wrong in the future, it's wrong now.
c. REBUILDING NEW JERSEY’S ECONOMY
Recently released job growth numbers, indicating that New Jersey continues to lose jobs, have some New Jersey economists worrying about the strength of the state’s economy. The news that our economy has stalled and that New Jersey is no longer adding high-paying jobs to its economic rolls underscores the need for a more aggressive economic development program.
Once a model in progress and innovation, New Jersey’s fragmented economic development program is now a case study in ineffectiveness. Rather than simply make minor adjustments to the fragmented and dysfunctional economic approach, the time has come to truly challenge the system in place. It is time to literally and logistically shake things up.
Mr. Kean has introduced legislation that seeks to reinvent New Jersey’s approach to way it helps business do business in New Jersey. Senate bill 81 consolidates all existing economic development programs under the umbrella of the New Jersey Economic Development Agency, the logical choice to be the parent of all economic development programs. His proposal calls for the elimination of duplicate programs and services and the creation of new, more relevant programs designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century economy and workplace.
d. PROMOTING ALTERNATE FUEL TECHNOLOGIES
New Jersey must promote and invest in alternative fuels to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and reduce the burden of high gas prices. Senator Kean has proposed a six point plan that will make the Garden State a worldwide leader in alternative fuel programs.
1. Allows a gross income tax credit for the incremental cost of an alternative fuel vehicle.
2. Provides sales and use tax exemption for new motor vehicles with certain fuel efficiency.
3. Allows credit against corporation business tax or gross income tax for 50% of cost of constructing facilities for sale of certain alternate fuels.
4. Provides credit under corporation business tax and gross income tax for construction of buildings in accordance with certain energy and environmental performance standards.
5. Requires DEP to commission study of use of cellulosic ethanol as fuel.
6. Requires DOT to create map showing refueling facilities where alternative fuel is dispensed.