Friday, February 15, 2008

New Jersey Legislator Condemns spending to Honor Cold War Veterans

Vincent Polistina, R-Atlantic, really doesn't Get it. I am So sick of lawmakers belittling Cold War Era Service. Most lawmakers go out of there way to honor Veterans but time after time Cold War Era Service gets aslighted here is yet another example.

Cutting state spending / Just say 'no' - repeatedly
Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Rookie Assemblyman Vincent Polistina, R-Atlantic, gets it.

You have to wonder why so many of his fellow lawmakers do not.

With all the talk (and the shouting) about Gov. Jon S. Corzine's plan to dramatically raise tolls to pay down New Jersey's skyrocketing debt and fund long-neglected needs in the state, it can be easy to forget that the state Legislature is in session and busy doing other stuff as we speak.

Part of the battle to fix New Jersey's financial mess is being waged right now on the floor of the state Senate and Assembly. And whether you like Corzine's plan or not, it should be clear to all that business as usual in the Statehouse must end.

But the signs are that most lawmakers still don't understand that.

Consider this scene from the Assembly floor, reported by The Associated Press:

"As the state Assembly Thursday blitzed through dozens of bills, Assemblyman Vincent J. Polistina refused to sit still.

Over and over again, the freshman Republican from Atlantic County, participating in his first voting session, stood to question how much each initiative would cost the state, even on the most innocuous sounding bills, such as giving certificates to New Jerseyans who served in the military during the Cold War.

It's not that Polistina opposed honoring veterans.

He said he favored doing that.

But the bill, Polistina said, would cost the state an estimated $350,000. ...

'This bill will cost money,' Polistina said. 'I do not believe this is the right time to be introducing anything that could cost upwards of $350,000.'"

So what happened to that $350,000 measure to honor veterans of the Cold War? It was approved by a vote of 67 to 4 (with five Assembly representatives abstaining and four not voting at all).

Polistina was the only assemblyman in The Press coverage area to vote no on the measure. His running mate, Assemblyman John Amodeo, R-Atlantic, voted yes, as did Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, and Brian Rumpf and Daniel Van Pelt, R-Ocean, Burlington, Atlantic.

By the way, all of them campaigned on a platform of cutting state spending.

Gentlemen, this is how you do that - by saying no to one $350,000 bill at a time. And then doing it again, and again and again.

In addition to his controversial toll hike, Corzine has also vowed to hold next year's spending at this year's level, which could require $2.5 billion in spending cuts. Still, the Assembly wants to hand out certificates to veterans of the Cold War.

The culture in Trenton has to change. Polistina deserves praise for recognizing that - and acting on it. Not many rookie assemblymen make so much noise at their first voting session.

But the question remains: What will it take for the rest of them to get it?

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