Modern Politics as Sport

Vastine2015I want to congratulate Asm. Jerry Green and Asm.-elect Jim Kennedy for their election in the 22nd Legislative District. They had the numbers behind them and used them effectively.

I would like to thank the many people who actively supported me through their contributions, door to door walking, phone calls and talking with friends and neighbors on my behalf.

A special thank you goes to my family, for their love, support and patience. It’s tough to see disappointment on the face of your child…but we will all use this experience for a learning opportunity.

Leading up to Election Day, I spent time contemplating the many issues we face in New Jersey. For those paying attention to facts, you all know the harsh realities; NJ is the highest taxed state in the country, NJ has the highest rate of foreclosures in the country, NJ has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, our pension system is on life support, our transportation infrastructure is in shambles, our education system is broken and more people leave the state than come here to live. And yet… throughout campaigns across the state, rather than debating ways for solving these problems, we saw absurd sums of money spent by the teacher’s union to “get even”, vitriolic rhetoric…fabricated from thin air…to diminish good people who work hard for people in their communities or better yet…a complete lack of reality as to who got us in this mess in the first place.

Throughout all of this, the overriding thought that kept running through my mind, was that we have begun to view our civic participation in representative government as nothing more than a sport. A sport played without regard to solving real problems, but rather…played by some purely for the thrill of winning or for the largess that is believed to come from an unending spring of resources. All of this without regard to the consequence of the outcome. Politics has become the same as our participation in, or observance of, a baseball or football game…and nothing of any greater significance.

Unfortunately, unlike the games we watch on the weekends, the decisions that are made regarding our governance, have real and in some cases dire affects on people’s lives.  The Mets not winning the World Series will not cause a retired senior to lose their home because they can’t afford the taxes. Rutgers not going to a bowl game will not force a recent grad to move far away from their friends and family to find a good job and the ability to buy a home. Whether or not the local high school team makes the playoffs will not force retired state employees to change their retirement plans because the pension fund is out of money.

I am not naïve, I know that politics has been a sport of sorts for time eternal…but throughout our history, when the stakes were high and it really mattered; people got serious about the decisions being made and chose those individuals who they believed had a complete understanding of the circumstances and better still, a good grasp on the solutions which would right the ship and avoid disaster…not double down on the same empty promises made for the last twenty years.

While campaigning, I often talked to people about the parallels between our economy in New Jersey and Hurricane Katrina. As Hurricane Katrina approached New Orleans, I called friends of mine to check on their status. They responded in the way only people who live in a hurricane prone area can…they said… “It’s a hurricane…we know its coming…we are packed and on our way out of town…we are evacuating.” As we all know, not everyone was able to evacuate. Some didn’t take the storm seriously until it was too late and some were trapped by their dependence on others to provide safety and security. Unfortunately, for those who didn’t evacuate early, decisions made by those who they elected; local, state and federal…caused them great harm and in some cases their lives.

Here in New Jersey, it isn’t a hurricane that is coming…but rather, a storm of economics…and it is very real. The evacuations have already begun. New Jersey lost 15,000 people, with a net worth of $1 million or more, in 2014 alone. As taxes increase even further to pay for the shortfalls, more people paying into the system and a lot more jobs will leave the state at an increasing rate, and the consequences for those who are left behind will become greater with each passing day. You may not yet feel the effects of this storm directly, but with every election cycle that we continue to see our choices as a sport…we get one step closer to the day when it will be too late to heed the warnings and evacuation will no longer be an option.

The home that you counted on for retirement will be worth far less with fewer people wanting to live here. That pension plan you are counting on will only pay pennies on the dollar when it’s bankrupt and your families will be fragmented across geography due to a fixed income, a lack of jobs or unaffordable taxes. Technology has afforded us many things…and it will also allow us to live anywhere but here. Sometimes winning doesn’t mean everything when the cost of winning means you lose.

The storm is coming, the evacuation has begun…we need to start taking these issues seriously before it’s too late.

May God Bless You All,

Bo Vastine


If Not Now…When?


Over the past number of months, I have spoken with many residents who have expressed deep concerns related to the many challenges that we face here in New Jersey. I understand the frustration that many people feel…but if we want to make progress, we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted from the real issues right now.

To be honest, right now…I could care less whom the presidential nominee is for either party…that’s next year. This year…right now, New Jersey literally has the highest taxes in the US…forcing retirees to move away from their families or face losing their homes; Right now, New Jersey has one of the highest unemployment rates in the US…forcing college graduates to live at home with their parents or move away from their hometown to find work; Right now, New Jersey has the highest foreclosure rate in the US…which, combined with all the rest…creates the highest net loss of residents, businesses and jobs in the entire country. Perhaps these issues haven’t touched you directly…but if we continue to double down on the same people and the same failed policies…eventually they will.

The structural problems that have led to these issues in New Jersey cannot go unaddressed indefinitely without catastrophic results…and the hard truth is that they will never be fixed until the legislature makes them the priority. Haven’t we seen firsthand the results of kicking the can down the road? Our pension system hasn’t been fully funded by any Governor since 2000 and our Transportation Trust Fund is depleted. How can we expect a different result in the future, if we continue to do the same thing right now?

Paying lip service in an election year, engaging in class warfare or using misdirection to confuse voters is a tool used by the people who created these problems and we cannot allow them to continue. Here is the truth: Republicans in Trenton didn’t vote to raise your taxes 117 times over the last 20 years, my opponent – Jerry Green did. Republicans in Trenton didn’t create restrictive regulations and over burdensome red tape which has driven businesses and good paying jobs out of New Jersey, my opponent – Jerry Green did. Republicans in Trenton didn’t choose to support the New Jersey Teachers’ Union, rather than the Teachers of New Jersey, which left large populations of students in failing schools, my opponent- Jerry Green did.

I understand the cynicism…”nothing ever changes”. I would suggest that nothing ever changes because we keep sending the same people back into office to double down on failed policies. Some priorities we agree on…and perhaps some we don’t. However, one thing we can absolutely agree on is this; if we do nothing right now…the results will be the same as they have been for the last twenty years and things will only get worse.

I am asking for your vote on November 3rd. Together, we can fix these problems and make New Jersey a great place to live, work and retire.

If you want Change Right Now…Vote Column “A”

By: William “Bo” Vastine

Candidate – NJ Assembly

Legislative District 22

Eliminar los Abusos con las Jubilaciones y con la Obtención de Empleos Gubernamentales por Funcionarios Electos

vastinelogo_webLos Demócratas Linda Stender y Jerry Green tienen que rendir cuentas a los contribuyentes: ¿Por qué pueden ellos y otros funcionarios demócratas manipular sus puestos públicos para ellos mismos obtener aún más plazas públicas bien renumeradas? Así, reportando mayores ingresos por dos o más empleos, logran aumentar sus pensiones. Los contribuyentes no deben financiar las pensiones de los políticos que aprovechan su posición para inflar sus ingresos. Los contribuyentes y los que consagran sus vidas al servicio púbico pagan por esa codicia.

Por años, las miles de entidades gubernamentales en Nueva Jersey han carecido de transparencia y rendición de cuentas a los ciudadanos que pagan altos precios por los servicios públicos que reciben. Los funcionarios electos han actuado en su propio interés. No podemos darnos el lujo de ahogar a los contribuyentes en el despilfarro de esos oficiales.

Apoyaré reformas a las reglas sobre ética y transparencia; mi objetivo será convertir al gobierno en un instrumento del pueblo, no de los políticos. Apoyaré los esfuerzos legislativos para terminar con los abusos de las pensiones  públicas. También trabajaré para reformar las leyes de financiamiento de campaña que actualmente permiten a unos pocos intereses especiales hacer donaciones ilimitadas con el fin de influir al gobierno. Esa influencia eleva los costos de los servicios públicos.

Respaldo la siguiente legislación:

  • Prohibir que el mismo funcionario público tenga simultáneamente más de un empleo gubernamental. Muchos hoy tienen a la vez puestos a nivel estatal, a nivel de condado, y al nivel municipal. Que se acabe el “ double dipping” y el “triple dipping”.
  • Suspender la pensión de cualquier empleado público jubilado que regrese al sector público con un sueldo de más de $ 15,000.
  • Que los empleados gubernamentales declarados culpables de ciertos delitos no puedan seguir en sus empleos.
  • Si son convictos de delitos civiles o criminales, los empleados públicos deben reducir sus pensiones para rembolsar al estado por sus gastos durante el juicio y por los fondos malversados.
  • “Transparencia en el gobierno” para permitir a los contribuyentes observar al gobierno en acción. Una página web costeada por el estado debería proveer información detallada sobre las finanzas públicas.
  • Exigir un referendo antes que las entidades gubernamentales locales puedan pedir dinero prestado.
  • Cerrar la laguna jurídica que permite a los sindicatos evitar límites que otros con contratos públicos deben respetar al contribuir dinero a las campañas políticas. Los sindicatos hacen estas contribuciones para influenciar al gobierno. De esta forma pueden ofrecer a sus miembros los contratos más lucrativos en la fuerza laboral, a un costo de miles de millones de dólares al año a los contribuyentes.
  • Hoy, la responsabilidad de hacer regir las normas éticas, incluso en las escuelas, cae en los funcionarios locales. Esa responsabilidad debe pasar a Comisión Estatal de Ética.
  • Prohibir que los candidatos y funcionarios públicos acusados ​​de delitos usen para su defensa legal los fondos recaudados para sus campañas políticas.
  • Que los oficiales públicos condenados de delitos que involucran sus puestos pierdan sus beneficios de jubilación pública.

El presente sistema ofusca la supervisión y rendición de cuentas. Si no lo reparamos vamos a seguir gastando innecesariamente en la lucha contra la corrupción. Y el esfuerzo para atraer nuevos negocios y el desarrollo económico del Estado será en vano.

Les pido su voto el 03 de noviembre para que juntos … pongamos fin a la corrupción.

Focused on Fixing our Public Education System to Serve Every Child

I support efforts that are focused on results, so that every New Jersey student will graduate high school on time and with a great education. I am committed to the principle that our students must be prepared for a career or college, so that they will be able to live their life with independence, self-reliance and dignity.

Specific legislation that I would support:

  • Provide K-12 students with a tuition allowance to attend the public, private or technical school that is right for them.
  • Provide additional State aid to public school districts that target their expenditures towards classroom instruction.
  • Establish three regional superintendents of schools and eliminate the position of executive county superintendent of schools.
  • Ease property tax burdens by creating the Task Force on School District Regionalization.

Eliminate Pension Padding and Job Wheeling Among Elected Officials

vastinelogo_webDemocrats Linda Stender and Jerry Green need to answer to the taxpayers about why it’s OK for them and other elected Democrats in Union County to manipulate their elected office to secure high paying public jobs and contracts to pad their pensions. Taxpayers should not have to fund pensions for politicians who leverage their elected office to get higher paying government jobs. Everyone who spends a lifetime in public service, and the taxpayers, pay the price for their greed.

In addition, far too many of the thousands of public entities across New Jersey have lacked accountability and transparency to the people who pay a big price for their services. They have been allowed to act in their own interests for far too long and we cannot afford to continue drowning taxpayers in their waste and abuse.

I will support strong ethics and transparency reforms to make government beholden only to the residents and not the politicians. I will support legislative efforts to end public pension abuse, as well as work to tighten campaign finance laws that currently allow a select few (special interests) to make unlimited donations in order to influence government. This coercive influence at all levels cause overly expensive goods and services at the taxpayers’ expense.

Specific legislation that I would support:

  • Prohibit simultaneous holding of certain state, county and municipal elective and appointive positions; Put an end double- or triple-dipping.
  • Suspend pension of any retired public employee who resumes public employment with compensation more than $15,000.
  • Require forfeiture of public office, position or employment upon conviction of certain offenses.
  • Subject public employees convicted of crimes or found at fault in civil actions to pension garnishment for public legal expenses and illegally obtained funds.
  • “Transparency in Government Act” to allow taxpayers to police their government in real-time by providing for the establishment of state public finance website to showcase records detailing how every state tax dollar is spent.
  • Require the passage of a public referendum before local government entities can borrow money above certain thresholds.
  • Transfer responsibility for establishment and enforcement of ethical standards for local officials and school officials to the State Ethics Commission.
  • Prohibit candidates and elected public officials charged with crimes from using campaign contributions for their legal defense.
  • Mandate forfeiture of the public retirement benefits of elected officials convicted of a crime involving office held.

Unless we fix the current system which obfuscates oversight and accountability, we will continue to spend needlessly in the fight against the culture of corruption. We will also continue to struggle in vain in the effort to attract new business and economic development to the state.

I am asking for your vote On November 3rd so that together…we can put an end to the culture of corruption.

Focused on Expanding our Economy and Creating Good Paying Jobs

For twenty plus years, under a Democrat majority, all we have seen out of Trenton is tax increases and failed policies which hurt the middle class. I am focused on finding solutions that will strengthen New Jersey’s workforce training efforts, make this state a worldwide hub for innovation, draw more job creators to the state, eliminate the reasons that businesses leave and provide more job opportunities for people.

Specific legislation that I would support:

  • Reduce tax rates for employers and middle-class earners.
  • Provide additional incentives for relocating corporate headquarters to New Jersey.
  • Create an incentive for the expansion, rehabilitation or modernization of manufacturing operations in New Jersey to increase jobs in that sector.
  • Eliminate duplicate, conflicting and otherwise burdensome state regulations that increase costs, delay projects, and stall or jeopardize job creation.

Focused on Reducing the Cost of Government

vastinelogo_webI will support reforms to New Jersey’s income tax structure, which is noncompetitive, as well as measures to repeal unnecessary taxes and fees. New Jersey, for example, is one of two states with two different “death” taxes, allowing government to take an excessive portion of people’s life savings, family business and wealth or forces grandparents to leave their families behind for other states that make more economic sense.

Specific legislation that I would support:

  1. Phase out estate tax over five-year period.
  2. Make New Jersey a more viable place to stay for retirees.
  3. Support constitutional amendment to establish a 2% cap on annual appropriations increases for certain State government spending.
  4. Eliminate loopholes in 2% cap as it relates to debt service.
  5. Permit state aid to fund start-up costs for local shared services projects.