By Candace Waller and Kanwal Minhas
Christopher “Kip” Bateman, Republican Senator from New Jersey Legislative District 16, shared his thoughts on unemployment and answered questions at PSGCNJ’s April 8, 2013 meeting. Senator Bateman is noted for his open door policy to constituents and his advocacy in bringing environmental issues to the forefront in New Jersey. PSGCNJ thanks member-at-large Pamela Williams for organizing the Senator’s visit.
The Senator opened the meeting on a positive note, sharing that New Jersey unemployment although still high, had dropped .2 percentage points to 9.3% (the national average is 7.6%) He noted that the private sector added 13,000 jobs. The 2% cap on municipal government spending helped New Jersey see the smallest property tax increase in years.
The Senator spent a significant portion of the hour addressing questions from the audience. Themes common to the questions included:
- New Jersey’s high property taxes causing an exodus of pharmaceutical companies to states with more attractive tax structures.
- Employer discrimination based on age, a negative credit history (resulting from job loss) and length of unemployment.
- Three professionals shared their families’ difficulties which resulted from their lengthy unemployment.
The Senator was asked what the legislatures is doing about the economy, high unemployment, discrimination facing the long-term unemployed and increases in property taxes. “The problem is the mindset. People don’t want to consolidate,” Batemen said. “We have 565 municipalities in New Jersey. There are 19 Superintendents in Somerset County.”
“New Jersey has some of the highest property taxes in the nation,” Bateman conceded. “This is a difficult state to raise a family. We have great infrastructure but this is an expensive state to live… The governor and legislature are trying to be more business friendly.” He mentioned the difficulties of building consensus with a republican governor and majority democrat Senate.
The Senator encouraged participants to contact his office via emails and letters to make him aware of their plight. He encouraged people to visit his office at 36 East Main Street, in Somerville on Monday and Thursdays. Honored by the Senator’s attendance, PSGCNJ members accepted his open invitation to his office with gratitude.
A panel composed of PSGCNJ members will meet with the Senator to establish an ongoing relationship to benefit both parties.
Senator Bateman served with the Somerset County Board of Freeholders from 1988 to 1994. He was director of the Township of Branchburg Committee from 1983 to 1988, and Mayor in 1986. The Senator has been a member of the Senate and Deputy Conference Leader since 2008. He is a practicing Attorney/Partner with the firm of DiFrancesco, Bateman, Coley, Yospin, Kunzman, Davis & Lehre, P.C. More information about the Senator is available at his website: http://bateman.senatenj.com/.