Bills Deserve Bipartisan Support
Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) was released from the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee today to prevent wasting millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money on special elections to fill vacancies that occur in the U.S. Senate. The bills will be voted on by the Senate on Thursday.
Her bill S2858 would change the date of the 2013 General election from November 5 to October 16, the date scheduled for a special Election to fill the vacancy left after Senator Lautenberg passed away on June 3. The second bill S2857 would eliminate the special election option to fill future vacancies in the U.S. Senate and would require the appointee to be a member of the same political party as the person vacating the office at the beginning of that term. The bills were released from Committee with a 3 to 1 party line vote.
Senator Turner called on both Democrats and Republicans in the State House to support the legislation to cut the $24 million costs of holding two additional elections in half. Speaking at the Committee meeting, Senator Turner lauded her bill as one that conservatives and progressives can appreciate.
“On one hand, the bills will save the taxpayers over $24 million, and on the other hand, it embodies democracy with a small “d” by making it more convenient to vote on all the offices that affect our daily lives,” said Senator Turner. “If we are genuinely interested in saving taxpayers’ money and creating an environment that encourages public participation and fosters good government, these bills should receive bipartisan support.”
“Governor Christie’s October surprise special election — on a Wednesday, less than three weeks before the regular General election where his name is on the ballot — is all about naked political ambition for national office,” said Senator Turner. “We can all see through the Governor’s tax cut façade. The only question is how many legislators are willing to stand up for the taxpayers and voters and say ‘no’ to Governor Christie’s wasting $24 million for an election that benefits only him – not the voters or the taxpayers.”
“Support for this bill will show that common sense doesn’t go on the ‘ash heap’ just because Governor Christie says it does,” said Senator Turner. “We’ve been listening to the Governor’s anti-tax mantra for almost four years and now he and his fiscal conservative cohorts have the opportunity to put their money-savings where their mouths are.”
The non-partisan Office of Legislative Services estimates it will cost $24 million to meet Governor Christie’s demand to hold a special U.S. Senate primary August 13th and a special U.S. Senate general election on October 16. Senator Turner’s bill to merge the General election with the special election would cut the costs in half. She said the one-year shift of the November General election to the date chosen by Christie for the special election would enhance full voter participation and avoid an unneeded $12 million taxpayer expense in the midst of a statewide fiscal crisis.