Category Archives: Speeches

Seniors Agenda

6/27/2005

Corzine’s Six Point Seniors’ Agenda

Mayor Pucci, I want to take you on the road with me, you are smart and kind and generous, particularly for someone who does such an outstanding job leading. I’m honored to know that we have someone who really is compassionate and cares about the day-to-day lives and works to make sure that the people of this community have the best possible access to the kind of life that we…I’m thrilled to call him a friend and I’m grateful.

Charlie, thanks for having me here, and all of you are but I want to talk about today is a broad based agenda for seniors that I want to make sure that I lay down my marker so that you know where I stand and so people can understand the direction I will take as governor, the things that I hold valuable. I’m going to cover a little ground in this, and you might get a little antsy, some people might even say I might be signing up for the benefits by the time I get done it’s so long, but tough problems don’t come with easy answers, slogans, sound bites. They actually are very difficult issues, and we’re going to talk about a senior agenda that is wholesale, and I would encourage any of you that want ot get the framing of this, there’s a great article on the front page of the NY Times today that talks about senior issues, the costs of Medicaid and how we [inaudible], it really is very [inaudible].

[These problems] are complicated, and I believe that we need to accept, we have to be thoughtful, we have to think before we shoot, and we have to make sure that we follow through and put together holistic approach to the problems that you’re solving. We face some challenges, as I said earlier, the challenges we’ll face as the demography of this country changes, as we extend our lives, which is a great benefit, but as there are greater and greater members, individuals over 65 in our society, the length of life that women have relative to men, have different kinds of problems. But if we don’t think about them, if we don’t try to address them, they won’t get resolved. They’ll just become [inaudible] and I truly want to make sure that we do everything we can to make people’s senior years, their golden years, truly that, and I hope that we do that not only because it’s the right thing to do, but I think that we need to make sure that we say thank you to those who have built this country, who made sure that we had the prosperity that we have today. [inaudible] my mother, my father’s passed, but it was the greatest generation. They protected this country, fought for us, our veterans did an incredible job and faced enormous challenges, and we have a responsibility in my view to give back to those who have [inaudible].

And one of the things that I’m going to be talking about over and over again, you’ll probably get bored before the campaign is over, is an affordability agenda. This is an incredible state, it’s the wealthiest, it’s the most educated, the most diverse, it’s got more thought provoking industries, pharmaceutical industry, call kinds of high tech businesses, but it is one that is also the highest cost of living than the rest of the nation. And we need to make sure that our seniors are able obtain and own their homes, and access quality and affordable healthcare, we need to make sure that their grandchildren have access to the higher educational system that is the best in the country, and it’s important that we be able to make sure that everyone in the entire state can stay in their home, and that’s what I want to talk to you about, because while your incomes may be fixed, you know your costs aren’t, and we need to make sure that we’re addressing that [inaudible]. Although social security benefits grow about 2.5 percent per year over the last four or five years, New Jersey property taxes are up 6.5 percent each year, you know, that isn’t a potion for great comfort among those who are on fixed incomes. Medigap has grown much faster than inflation, and this year is the fourth year in a row that we’ve seen double digit growth in prescription drug costs; that does not make a potion for security for our seniors who are on fixed income, so I want to make sure that we give back and understand the pressures that go on on people, and we address your issues the same way you’ve addressed society’s, with high integrity and high principles over the years, providing for your family and always thinking about giving back [inaudible]. That’s why we have to do what I believe is important to help when you’re facing these costs.

I know that this is an agenda that I hope will deal with property taxes, will deal with long term care, will deal with the rising cost of healthcare in general and particularly with regards to prescription drugs, so I’m going to work very hard to deal with these tough problems and speak to them as you go through your day.

Now, one of the reasons I feel so strongly about this, I really have been fortunate in my life. I have had to say, I’ve had as blessed a life as anyone could have, I had a loving family, a good education, the Mayor talked about that, strength and support from the community that helped me succeed. I, like the gentlemen here, served my country in the US Marine Corps, I was able to work my way from the bottom to the top of a great company. The American Dream is something I’ve lived. I’ve been honored to serve you all as your United States Senator; the American Dream is something that we have to perpetuate, and work on, and I believe one of the most important ways to do that is to make sure people who are retiring have a high quality of life. That’s why I’ve been so strongly outspoken in my views with regard to the privatization of Social Security. Leaving aside that that’s a political issue, it’s just flat out wrong that we want to cut benefits and move away from having a safety net for all our seniors; it’s just wrong and I think that we need fight it. I’ve led the Democratic caucus on that in 2003 and 2004, since I’ve taken on the task of running in New Jersey I’ve stepped back a little bit. There’s not a more important issue in our country than to make sure that we maintain Social Security and that safety net.

And as a governor, it’s even more important. Can you imagine what would happen if we go from [about] 41 to 42 percent down to about 20 percent of income? What would be the cost to the state at charity care and hospice, the pickup of the responsibilities in Medicaid and Medicare, it’s just wrong, it’s bad business, it makes no sense, and I hope, I know most of those who are present feel very strongly that we need to protect Social Security. I know we have to, I know we have to as a state, so I look forward to working with you and making sure that we do that. You know this is one of those things, covenants, that one generation to the next have made sure that we’ve agreed to. It’s an earned benefit, it is not an entitlement in the sense that people haven’t paid for it; it’s an insurance benefit that people actually went out and paid for. I feel very strongly that we shouldn’t be going back to the days of the 1960’s, where 35 percent of our seniors lived in poverty, 50 percent in the ’30’s, and now we’re down to 10 percent, and there’s a reason, and that’s Social Security, and I hope that we do the right thing and I hope that you all will stay involved, because politicians listen to seniors, and there’s a real reason why: you vote, and people pay attention. So send those cards and letters, not just to me, but anybody else that might be challenging that.

I also think we have some major issue with regard to our pension system in this country. We’ve seen lots of businesses walk away from their responsibilities in pension benefits; the airline industry, we’ve seen it in the savings and loan industry, there’s lots of various, the steel industry, where people go bankrupt so that they don’t have to take up their pension obligations. And then we have the problem at the federal level where the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. [inaudible]. This has got to stop. It is wrong, and I can be a voice on that as governor, but it is absolutely essential in the same way talking about social security. When those pensions go out the window, guess who picks up the tab? The state and local governments have a responsibility for people, and they care about them, and they pick up the tab. That’s why we have to win those fights in Washington, to make sure that the PBGC and all these other issues that are involved in assuring that pension obligations are fulfilled.

We have some of those same problems here in New Jersey. We have a $30-35 billion hole in our public employee pension funds. 30-35 billion. There are estimated holes in the operating budget, but we have not been living up to our responsibilities putting money into the pension system as time goes on. We’ve also had some abuse of the system: double-dipping, people taking advantage of the system, and I think there’s major changes. We haven’t actually invested effectively, I think we can strategically make better use of pension resources without having political influence come in. I’m a trustee of the University of Chicago’s investment fund, and the difference between what you see in our college and university endowments versus what we’re doing in the state is dramatic because when you diversify, it gives you a wider range of assets, more broadly presented. I can make real changes to this; we do have to stop those abuses, and you read about them, and they’re real, and I’m going to make sure that double dipping and all those kinds of things that run up costs, that we do with regard to the state fulfill its contractual obligation just like you might require the airlines to do theirs, or US Steel. So that’s a big issue that’s meaningful and I hope that in this pension and social security area we can work together at the state and federal level. I think because I know how Washington works that I will have a much stronger voice as far as [inaudible].

Now, as I had mentioned, New Jersey residents will soon be receiving in the mail, if you haven’t already, information the Medicare prescription drug plan as formulated down in Washington. I have to tell you, this is one, I don’t feel that I have served as well as I’d like, because this is a bad program for the money we put down. It’s going to have more paperwork, more premiums and I think a lot of headaches for a lot of people, the red tape, [inaudible] brands, the co-pays, drug companies, I think once those get out there, Mayor Pucci you’re going to have people calling your office saying What the heck’s going on here, we feel like we’ve really been undermined. The way we have calculated it, 500,000 New Jersey seniors would get less benefits in the new program then they would in the old programs. Plans that are private care or state benefits, or PAADs, SeniorGold, I think it’s going to be a really really tough trying, I’m glad I’m not running for re-election in 2006 and having to justify this [inaudible]. [Inaudible] I encourage you to read the New Jersey section of the Star-Ledger, where it talks about PAAD and SeniorGold may have higher co-pays, and taxpayer responsibility, [inaudible] and I think it’s severely risky for the thousands of New Jerseyans who have these employer sponsored programs, because they’re actually getting benefits from their employers, there is every incentive built into this program to have the General Motors or the large corporations to drop their benefits and have the individual sign up for the prescription drug program and Medicare, and [inaudible], and I think it’s wrong, and I will do everything I can do to make sure that the state fills in those gaps where Medicare’s prescription drug program doesn’t work, try to make sure that our businesses do the right thing and stay [inaudible]. We’ve had that fight on the floor of the US Senate, now it’s going to come down to how the state fills in some of those unsure areas.

Now, another thing that I’ve worked on is cutting your prescription drug costs, and I see my veterans, VA has the best negotiating process with the pharmaceutical companies of anybody in the country. Something like Lipitor, they pay 4 times in [inaudible] what someone would pay in VA, that’s why everybody’s signing up for the VA, and you know, here in the state of New Jersey, we don’t have bulk buying for broad based purchases of pharmaceuticals for our seniors, for any of our programs. And I’ll tell you, this is wrong, and this is one change if I am governor. I love the pharmaceutical industry and the jobs it creates in New Jersey, but I also love our seniors, and our seniors deserve a fair price just as much as our pharmaceutical industry deserves a good return on capital. We have to make sure that we’re negotiating tough, prices with our pharmaceutical industry here at home, and I think we can make a real difference in the cost of your prescription drugs. That’s another area that I believe strongly that we need to work.

Another thing that relates to this is we also have to be pushing the edge of the envelope with regard to our research. I support Governor Codey’s initiative, ballot initiative, to move on life saving, life changing [stem cell research]. If you’re interested in dealing with Alzheimer’s and all of those degenerative diseases that are so prevalent in our society, we have to push the outer frontiers of science, and New Jersey ought to be the leader in that and we’re losing some of our edge because we’re not putting the resources into it. So I’m a strong supporter of that, I know that that has some controversy, but it can help make a difference in people’s lives, and we want to advance we need to make sure that we [inaudible] Parkinson’s Alzheimer’s and MS and all these other issues as we go forward, and I think Governor Codey’s done a great job on that.

Moving on, with my affordability agenda, I think a basic healthcare costs are an issue for everyone, not only for seniors but for society as a whole, and we have to go about making sure we’re getting maximum efficiency [inaudible]. And in some cases, which I’ve already identified, and I shouldn’t say I because so much research has been done on this, there is the presumption, the Rand Corporation has actually looked at New Jersey and they believe that we’ve got about 10 percent cost overrun in healthcare costs. There’s about maybe $4 billion a year in the state, we’d have savings of $1.2-2 billion; think what we could do if we had $2 billion to invest back in long term care, or invest back in making sure that we have senior services. I am going to go on a rampage as a business manager to make sure we get out those problems of waste fraud and abuse in our healthcare system. I know that money can be used to better serve the community [inaudible]. There is no [inaudible] for people abusing the system, particularly with some of the healthcare providers who, I sit on the Budget committee in Washington, and I hear this over and over, state after state, put in programs to change this and have been able to make major savings and it’s estimated we could make $100 per person in this state savings by managing our healthcare system better. I know it has to happen, and we can make it happen.

Another area is making sure that we have the best technology [inaudible] how we’re working our healthcare system. Medical errors, duplication cost us literally hundreds of billions of dollars and more tragically, as I think most of you probably followed this case of the killer nurse, when we don’t monitor safety and security and records and processes that go on, folks can take advantage of the system in an enormous way. It has tragically cost people’s lives, but it also costs huge resources on duplication. 20 percent of the tests are estimated to be duplications in our healthcare system; the technology, state of the art technology can change that, we have to be working with the best here in New Jersey. That’s why I [inaudible] resources to [inaudible], and we ought to get our hospitals coordinated, how many times have you gone to a hospital, and you go up to a different doctor or a different department and you have to go through the same list of checkoffs of what medicines do you take, do you have a knee problem, do you have a back problem, when’s the last time you had surgery. All of those things are expensive to do, and they’re all paper focused and technology focus would provide an enormous amount of savings moving forward with that, so I hope that, I know that we can do better in this area, making it more safe, making it more affordable. I think the last thing I’d say in this particular area is that we also have to accelerate what we’ve done with the veterans homes. Now I’ve been around the state to Menlo Park, to Vineland, to Paramus; these are great institutions, we just don’t have enough beds; we just don’t have enough rooms for our disabled and aged veterans. This is another place where you’re required to have additional resources to go forward. I know we can do it, use that technology [inaudible]. And we start making sure that we have the kind of preventative care, that I know restricts costs. So if we do that, we have more resources, we have more [inaudible].

Now let me sum this all together. New Jersey, right now is ranked 43rd in the nation on healthcare quality; all of these things that I just talked about, these initiatives, we have to take to change that. And if I’m elected, four years from now if we haven’t moved that up into the 30’s or the 20’s, I will felt I have failed as your governor. If I’m graced enough to be a little longer than that, we will be the best, the top ten. We need to have objectives and we’re going to do that; the only way to do that is to change the technology and end the waste fraud and abuse. [inaudible]. Now I know those things can happen if we really work at them. I encourage you to go to Corzineforgovernor.com; I’ve laid out all of this in great detail [inaudible]. But we’re going to work on these things.

Now, apart from healthcare there are other things that seniors are interested in. I look at this great local facility, [inaudible] we need to make sure that we have essential programs that our senior citizens can use as well. Senior centers, [inaudible] those are areas where we can make the quality of life much higher than where we are today, and I know even where we have problems, we don’t communicate with people about what they are. We need to make sure that everybody knows what’s available so we’re not leaving services on the table that people want to be using, and right now there’s a New Jersey program [inaudible] and we need to make sure that they have the knowledge that they can be able to take advantage of the systems and I will make sure that we have a [inaudible] for every senior to find out what services are available and make sure that is available to our seniors across the state.

The second is, we have to make sure that we think about seniors when we’re making investments back into our community. The mayor knows, when you’re talking about development you need to talk about sidewalks, you need to think about disabilities, other kinds of lighting, extending crosswalks, [inaudible] for senior citizens that make the society work. And I will make sure that there are no [actions taken] without people thinking about what the implication is for our seniors going forward. We need to make sure our public parks and spaces are senior friendly for everybody’s ability to have a higher quality of life. You know I know we can make that happen; so if you help me on these kinds of agendas, we will make a big difference, and I think we can also take that [inaudible].

The last area I want to talk about is long term care. People in our state often think that we have two choices about long term care: people are living into their late 80’s, this is a real issue, and it’s nursing home care or no care at all, that’s often the choices, for, particularly middle income families, and we need to do something about it. We also need, in my view, a very fundamental premise, that we ought to encourage people to stay in their homes as long and as much as possible. And we need to make investments to allow that happen. And I think the simple [inaudible], installing a rail, or a chairlift, a railing for the tub; you can make life actually work better for people so that they can stay in their homes. The state should facilitate that, there’s a very real reason: it costs 30 percent less for a person to stay at home, which is where they want to be generally, where they’re happier in their surroundings, but the cost of living in your own home relative to going to a nursing home is extraordinary. We need to make sure that everything [inaudible], and those are things that I talked about that are simple like ramps, lifts, and railings in tubs; all that needs to be organized through [inaudible] and we need to make sure that it’s a priority, it’s not something you just talk about we’ve got to make sure it happens, and again the information needs to get out.

In New Jersey, we have 83 percent of our seniors staying in nursing homes after age 75; in Oregon, that’s 50 percent. Other states have made major efforts to try to keep people in their homes on a positive basis, and it’s with the result of 30 percent savings, so we’ll get more resources by making good choices about how we make policy [inaudible].

There are other things that you need to do, speed up Medicaid approval process for home based care, guarantee that we get benefits for home care workers, make sure that we have an educational system[inaudible], but I know that those are the kinds of things that can change the quality of life, and we really have [inaudible].

Let me just end with a discussion of all of those things. Only about 8 percent of our seniors have long term care insurance, and in my view that’s just not good enough. Some of it is going to be the next generation of people, the sort of 45-65 year olds, although we ought to encourage people to stay in long term care, and many of you may remember last spring in the US Senate we talked about long term caregivers and health insurance, [inaudible] sponsored an [inaudible] tax credit [inaudible]. [inaudible]. And we’re not making that happen in this country, we’re just not spending the proper [inaudible] on it. Nor are we putting money in our [inaudible] to pick up long term care insurance policies. I have worked in the Senate for this, and I will work here in the state of New Jersey. [inaudible] nationally. We had a $250 tax credit for anyone who takes up long term care policies and we’re going to make sure that we have what are called partnerships policies, which will allow them to keep their homes and transition into Medicaid if they’ve actually taken up these long term care policies 10 years, 15 years. A number of states have actually encouraged the insurance industry to make it happen. It will be an enormous benefit for our families, retaining their resources, and an enormous benefit for our society as a whole. I think that in this state, where 75 percent of our seniors own their own homes, 75 percent here in New Jersey own their own homes, we have to do everything we can to make sure they can retain them, and long term care is one of the most [inaudible].

The other thing that I think we need to do on that score is property tax relief. I think property tax relief ought to go to those who need it most, and people on fixed incomes need it most. This is not a political sap, we want to target what limited resources we have toward property tax relief to seniors. We want this rebate program renewed, average is a little under $1200 for seniors in 2004; I would like to renew that and grow it 10 percent a year over the next 4 years, that’s 40 percent for those of you with those calculators it’s 47 percent compounded interest. We can make that happen [inaudible] $1800, and for average individuals [inaudible] $5000 [inaudible] 35 percent. As soon as we can make that something that will be [inaudible] policy, we’ll do it. We have to do some technology investments, but we can make that happen. I believe property tax relief ought to go to those who need it most, and seniors [inaudible].

There are a whole bunch of other things that we need to work on, making sure that the senior tax credits for energy and efficiency and use of [inaudible] at home, we need to make sure that we have an incredible reverse mortgage purchasing program, that [inaudible] the hands of predator lenders that allows for seniors to capture the value of their homes, we need to work with housing finance agencies to provide sensible [inaudible] programs along those lines, I worked with [inaudible] on that, but we need to make sure that all of these things fit together in a holistic manner. We can save Social Security, if we can dress up our prescription drug plan, if we can get long term care, if people can live comfortably in their homes, if we make sure that property tax relief goes to the people who need it most, we can make a difference in people’s lives, and that’s why I want to be your governor. That’s why we have a responsibility to work to build this agenda, I know you all have given so much to our society, it’s time for us to stand up and [inaudible] those values that you’ve given to us as we go forward. I truly appreciate all of you being here, I appreciate the council, I just want to leave this last thought. You know, when I led Goldman Sachs it was one of the 10 best places in the country to work, and I was proud of that as a leader; I want to make this state one of the best places to live for people to [inaudible] retire, stay here, everyone should have that chance[inaudible].

Creating Affordable Opportunities in Higher Education

7/22/2005

Plan for Greater Affordability & Greater Opportunities in Higher Education

Thank you for welcoming me to the Governor’s School today.

It’s a privilege, even if none of you can vote. But you soon will. It’s great to be with such a terrific group of young people.

You know, so much has changed since I was in high school: technology, the culture… and my hairline.

And so much of what is ordinary to you was unimaginable when I was in school, like: the iPod, the internet… Paris Hilton.

Back then, there was no Governor’s School in New Jersey. In fact, the Governor of North Carolina was just starting the first one in 1963.

So I’m especially pleased to get a chance to attend yours, if only for an afternoon.

Let me congratulate you for being selected. Your achievements and your interest set you apart.

You represent the best and brightest in our state. Take a look around: It may be scary to think, but you are looking at the next generation of New Jersey leaders. It’s not scary to me because I know you care – you’re engaged.

And especially look for those geeky kids – because in twenty years, they’re in charge – like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

In all seriousness, in your time here, you have been preparing for leadership roles – exploring some of the most complex public policy challenges facing our state. And I am too.

In fact, today, I would like to address one of those challenges, a challenge I believe you have a huge stake in.

That is: how can we make the promise of, the opportunity for higher education more affordable for more New Jersey students and families, while maximizing the benefit to our state’s economy?

During the course of my gubernatorial campaign, I have set out my vision for New Jersey’s future – a vision where New Jersey is not just the wealthiest state, but also far more affordable for all the hardworking people who live here.

That’s why I’m running for governor: to make the changes we need to improve the quality of life for all New Jerseyans. To make accessible the great advantages of our great state.

And that’s why I have proposed an “affordability agenda” – an agenda designed to make it easier to access quality medical care; acquire a home; save for retirement…

And attend and pay for college at home in the Garden State.

To make New Jersey truly affordable, we need to lay the foundation for a strong economy: high paying, high quality jobs in New Jersey

We need to move from an industrial economy to a knowledge- and skills- based one… we need to move from the failed model of tax, borrow, and spend to a strategy of “invest, grow and prosper.”

We must expand industries that will generate economic activity, and provide good paying jobs for the workers of today and tomorrow.

We must invest in the next generation – in you, the people in this room and your peers throughout New Jersey who will make our state and our families productive and prosperous.

We in New Jersey have terrific assets that will help keep us competitive in the 21st Century – from our position as the connecting transportation corridor, to being a biotech capital in the most vibrant region in the world, to our world-class universities and research centers.

But our greatest advantage is that we have the most diverse, best educated, most highly skilled, most ambitious, and most optimistic citizens in the world.

To meet the challenges of the new economy and to make our state more affordable, we must harness their collective talent, drive, and optimism.

We need to:

–nurture the aspirations of our best and brightest – that’s you;

–convince you to study in New Jersey at our great public and private universities;

–encourage you to stay in New Jersey or return after graduation; and

–make the promise of a higher education a reality for more of your parents.

I was fortunate to attend a great public university, the University of Illinois, so I know firsthand how important an affordable, high quality college education can be. It prepared me for a successful business career and the tremendous opportunity I have had to serve the people of New Jersey in the United States Senate.

All for $225 a semester – in 1969 of course.

Nowadays, college students are lucky if that covers a semester’s worth of books for one class.

In the modern economy, workers who stop at high school can expect to earn less than half – maybe one million dollars less than what their college-educated peers earn over a lifetime. That’s the reality.

What you may not realize is just how much New Jersey has riding on the higher education choices you and other high school students make.

College graduates are significantly less likely to be unemployed, underemployed or to require public assistance. Their higher incomes generate far greater revenues for the state and provide the engine for American business. Most importantly, states with large pools of skilled workers can attract the high technology and financial services companies that are important to any thriving economy. And New Jersey must be just that.

The cost of higher education, however, has increased along with its importance. Over the last decade, tuition costs have risen dramatically nationwide. At public universities, they spiked 10.5 percent on average for the 2004-2005 academic year alone.

In high cost states like New Jersey, the situation is tougher. At Rutgers-New Brunswick, undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board cost approximately $16,700 dollars. While that represents a savings over most private schools, that’s nearly 50 percent more than the national average for public universities ($11,354).

As many of you will soon learn: these costs are not abstract concepts, but real financial challenges for students and their families.

To pay for higher education, children and parents twist themselves into financial knots.

Parents take out second mortgages, take on second jobs, and draw down their retirement accounts. In recent years, about 5 percent of the money borrowed through home-equity loans was used to pay for education – putting a severe strain on the resources of middle class families.

More and more full-time students are also working full-time and – despite their best efforts – most end up racking up red ink and I.O.U.s.

They also break their focus and undermine the quality of their academic experience.

Regrettably, when students graduate, they face monthly student loan payments that far outpace their ability to pay. Based on the standards set by the student loan industry, about 40 percent of recent college grads owe more per month than they can reasonably afford.

And it’s getting worse. Adjusted for inflation, recent college grads from public universities owe 85 percent more than recent college grads did just ten years ago. According to a Time Magazine poll, five percent of recent college graduates owe more than 100 thousand dollars in student loans. The bank loan rate among recent grads has skyrocketed.

Facing these enormous costs, many students are discouraged from attending the schools of their choice or even attending college at all. Over the next decade, it is estimated that financial barriers will prevent more than four million qualified high school graduates nationwide from attending a four-year college. Other students downsize their college experience, from four years to two – downsizing from a B.A. to an Associates degree.

Until college loans are repaid, other important priorities – like buying a home, pursuing further education, saving for the future, or even getting married – can be crowded out or postponed.

I believe that our state can do more to help students overcome these financial challenges.

No recent college grad should have to postpone marriage or another important life event because of educational loans.

No family in our state should have to choose between their own financial security and their child’s future.

And no high school student should think her dream of a college education is a luxury she cannot afford.

That’s why I have been so outspoken in the United States Senate about the importance of increasing financial assistance for New Jersey college students.

In 2003, I am proud to have led the successful effort to help more than 80,000 students afford the college of their choice – by fighting a major cut in Pell grants proposed by the Bush Administration.

If I am elected Governor, a central priority of my administration will be to expand access to an outstanding and affordable higher education.

I want to tell you what we’ll do to improve and lower the cost of higher education. Now some of this will be technical. And when I was in high school, “technical,” was just another word for “boring.”

You may even wish you were back in class. But this is important – it’s vital for students and for our whole state.

As Governor, I will push an Affordable Opportunities Initiative – a phased-in $40 million plan to bring down the cost of higher education for our students and improve New Jersey’s economy.

When it is implemented, the Affordable Opportunities Initiative will represent the largest increase in financial aid in New Jersey in a generation.

My Affordable Opportunities Initiative will fully fund tuition assistance grants for all economically disadvantaged students – and it will strengthen the Educational Opportunity Fund, which helps students cover the costs of textbooks, fees, room and board.

My approach will maintain a commitment to the New Jersey STARS program, which offers top high school graduates from New Jersey free tuition at county colleges.

And it will provide vitally needed assistance to the middle class families who often suffer the most under the current financial aid system. It’s another example of the middle class squeeze: middle class families are too wealthy to get need-based tuition assistance, but are not wealthy enough to afford the cost of tuition.

Under my Affordable Opportunities Initiative, 10,000 new tuition assistance grants will be awarded annually – offering support to a broader middle income swath of the New Jersey population. That represents a 17 percent increase over current levels.

But even with extra help, many students are likely to accumulate college debt, which can make choosing certain rewarding career paths difficult. Where starting salaries are low, loan obligations are contributing to historic worker shortages. For example, in 2006, our state is expected to have 18% fewer nurses than necessary to meet our health care needs.

Graduates interested in some of the most demanding and important fields – nursing, teaching, law enforcement – are forced to weigh their financial commitments against their dreams. And too often, dreams give way to the cold economic reality.

To address this challenge, I am proposing two major loan forgiveness programs – “Serve New Jersey” and “Come Home to New Jersey” – for college graduates entering certain critical professions. The first program is directed at graduates of New Jersey colleges, while the second – as the name suggests – attempts to attract New Jerseyans who left the state for college to return home for their careers.

Both proposals build on a program that Governor Codey just started for mental health professionals, and both will forgive up to $5000 in loans – $1000 per year for five years – for workers in areas suffering from severe worker shortages, including nurses, high school math and science teachers, child care providers, and first responders.

These programs will attract the high-quality college graduates our state needs, and they will provide the financial security some New Jersey residents need to follow their dreams.

My Affordable Opportunities Initiative also includes a special $5000 tuition credit to help students whose parents are in the military and serving our country in Afghanistan and Iraq. For many Guard and Reserve families, longer and longer deployments have cut into household incomes substantially – making it tougher to afford tuition for college-bound children. While the Federal government has the G.I. bill, that benefit does not help the dependents left behind.

My approach will address this oversight, and ensure that the children of servicemen and women do not become unintended educational casualties of the war effort.

But as I mentioned before, higher education does not simply benefit the individual; it benefits the state. If we use our educational resources strategically, we can enlist our system of colleges and universities into a broader strategy to grow our economy and make our state more affordable.

Before I was elected to the Senate, I led Goldman Sachs, a company that in 2001 began building a major office complex in Jersey City. And one of the main factors that attracted Goldman Sachs to locate in New Jersey was the highly skilled professionals who would work here and live here already.

The logic is simple: where talent goes, economic activity follows.

That makes enrolling the best and brightest in New Jersey colleges and universities a matter of tremendous economic importance.

Too many of our most talented students choose to leave New Jersey for college. Only 7 percent of New Jersey students with SAT scores above 1300 limit their applications to in-state universities. Ultimately, more than 40 percent of all our students leave for college – double the national average.

Unless we reverse this brain drain, New Jersey will not be able to attract the important industries that will propel our economy in the future.

That’s why I am proposing a major increase in merit-based scholarships to state universities. Based on the state’s successful Outstanding Scholar Recruiting Program, my plan will create one thousand new scholarships geared towards New Jersey’s highest performing high school students.

We also need to make serious investments in our university infrastructure. That’s why I support a top-to-bottom needs assessment to see where major capital projects should proceed, and then I will campaign to pass a voter-approved bond to cover the needed to build the new classrooms, research labs and residents to make us a national leader in public colleges and university.

Finally, my affordability agenda understands the unique role that university research centers can play in developing the key technologies driving the future economy. That’s why I proposed the Edison Innovation Fund, a program that will invest hundreds of millions in New Jersey’s research institutions – from Einstein Alley to Camden’s universities and colleges – to fund critical research, leverage additional private and government investments, and provide New Jersey with partial ownership of valuable patents.

By strengthening the research and development capability of our universities, we will enrich the educational experience for students, retain the very best faculty, advance the cause of science, and place our college graduates and our state at the epicenter of exciting new job-creating industries – fields like nanotechnology, renewable energy, and stem cell research.

While my Affordable Opportunities Initiative is an ambitious, multifaceted effort, much of its cost can be offset by streamlining various university processes – like financial aid – reallocating existing resources, and rooting out corruption and fiscal mismanagement in the higher education system. The recent scandal at UMDNJ – where substantial higher education resources were misdirected – only underlines the importance of ethics reform.

I have called for the establishment of a new independently elected official with the power to oversee spending at every level of government, and eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse – whether in Trenton or at Rutgers.

Let me wrap up:

When I led the investment bank Goldman Sachs, it was rated by its employees as one of the ten best places in American to work.

By implementing my Affordable Opportunities Initiative… by investing in the people and institutions that will pave the way for New Jersey’s future success… and – most importantly – by working together, we can make New Jersey the best place in America to grow up, go to school, live, work, and retire with dignity.

Go forward from the Governor’s School, find your opportunities, and let’s build a great future – together – for New Jersey.

Thank you.

Homeland Security

8/4/2005

Keeping New Jersey Safe: Jon Corzine’s Plan for Homeland Security

Coming here to speak in the shadow of the New York City skyline – a skyline forever marred by the September 11th attacks…

And standing in front of the Exchange Place PATH station just weeks after terrorists murdered innocent civilians in the London subway … the need for a serious public commitment to homeland security is undeniable.

All those who aspire to public office have a fundamental responsibility to tell the people they seek to lead how they plan to promote safety and strengthen security in an unsafe and insecure world.

Today – more than ever – enhancing homeland and hometown security must be the single highest priority for the Governor of New Jersey.

Yes – property tax relief, affordable healthcare, disciplined fiscal policies, ethics reform, clean air and water, and access to quality education are all critically important to the people of this state.

But without basic safety and security, everything else we care about is at risk.

I am here today to speak to my plans for homeland security because slogans and sound bites will not solve our security challenges.

Only the best ideas and the best implementation will.

It comes as no surprise that the assets that are essential to New Jersey’s economic future – our airports, seaports, highways, mass transit system, chemical plants, casinos, and financial institutions – also attract the unwanted attention of terrorists whose primary objective is to kill Americans and disrupt our economy.

The objective of a Corzine Administration will be to make certain that terrorists fail.

While it is impossible to stop every conceivable plot, each of our decisions must be calculated to make the probability of an attack as close to zero as possible.

People are not perfect, and neither is government. But with the lives of New Jersey families at stake…with our community still living in the shadow of 9-11…with our families acutely aware of the way that terrorism rips apart lives and causes lasting pain…our goal must be to do all we humanly can to protect our people and this state.

From published reports, we know that al Qaeda has targeted New Jersey infrastructure.
— The George Washington Bridge.
— The Prudential Plaza Building in Newark.
— The Lincoln Tunnel.

Other New Jersey locations are believed to be high on the list for terrorists looking to kill Americans, disrupt commerce, and grab headlines – an unfortunate reality made clear in my work on the Intelligence Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee.

A two-mile stretch near the Pulaski Skyway, in fact, includes so many high profile targets – from facilities working with deadly chemicals and flammable materials to major transportation assets – that the FBI dubbed it the most dangerous two-miles in America.

And we know terrorists have operated here before. The anthrax letters were traced back to a mailbox in Princeton, several of the 9-11 terrorists lived and worked in New Jersey, and flight 93 – one of the four planes hijacked in the September 11th attacks – took off from Newark Airport.

I believe that New Jersey’s entire homeland security effort must be directed towards a single aim – moving terrorism from the front pages of newspapers to the back pages of history.

Since 2001, the people responsible for New Jersey’s law enforcement, counterterrorism, public health and emergency response activities have done a first class job dealing with the new realities of a post 9-11 world.

Our local police, fire, and emergency services on up to managers at our state agencies deserve our appreciation for adapting to emerging threats and new preparedness requirements.

Fort Monmouth along with other military installations should be recognized for their homeland security contributions too, developing cutting-edge electronic technologies used to harden key infrastructure.

Now – armed with the knowledge that comes from nearly four years of experience with the new security environment – we must move this process forward. We need to bring seamless coherence to a system that was constructed on the run in the aftermath of 9-11.

For New Jersey’s homeland security efforts, centralized decision-making is extraordinarily important.

Unlike other states confronting security challenges – sensitive infrastructure in New Jersey is not concentrated in a single city – like New York – but distributed all across our state, from tunnels in the north to nuclear power plants in the south.

Just as our challenges are spread around the state, so are the agencies that we rely on to meet these challenges.

By my count, no fewer than two dozen state agencies and departments take part in homeland security – from the Attorney General and the Department of Health, to the National Guard and the State Police.

We have 566 municipalities, with 522 police departments, 852 fire districts, and hundreds of EMS squads spread across New Jersey – posing more than just a budgetary problem, but a real challenge for coordination and integration.

The Governor needs to be able to cut across jurisdictions, streamline inefficiencies, and proceed with a consolidated approach.

He needs to be equipped with the best information, the most highly qualified personnel, and an organizational structure designed for effective command and control.

That’s why – in a Corzine Administration – there will be a new cabinet-level official – a Director of Homeland Security who will be responsible for overseeing and coordinating homeland security efforts in New Jersey.

Similar to the newly created Director of National Intelligence in the White House, the Director of Homeland Security will report directly to the governor with daily threat briefings – including classified information – and timely policy counsel, while managing the intra-governmental homeland security effort.

This new official will not be tucked away in a state agency or heading some vast, new bureaucracy. He or she will command a top-flight team of Homeland Security professionals drawn from various relevant agencies – including the Office of Counter-Terrorism.

He will be a professional, not a politician – picked for what he knows, not whom he knows.

The failure to meet this standard for the Governor’s homeland security advisor in the past – appointing an individual obviously not qualified to do the job – represents a colossal mistake and an embarrassment.

The position initially will be created by executive order, and then made permanent through legislation. I expect that any appointment ultimately will be made in consultation with the Senate and subject to advice and consent.

If I am elected – the people of this state will get nothing less than a Director of Homeland Security who exemplifies the highest standards of competence, merit, and integrity.

We also need a clear command structure that lays out how the various agencies will interact and who will be responsible for each part of the mission.

We need to ensure that we receive the best and most timely intelligence available, and that it is disseminated to those charged with protecting us.

Perhaps most importantly, we need to generate a consensus for how to move forward – what steps need to be taken and on what timeline – something the 9-11 commission successfully accomplished on the national level.

Now, I want to see the success of the 9-11 Commission brought home to New Jersey.

If elected, I will establish a new Homeland Security Commission – a bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel of experts modeled on the 9-11 Commission – to conduct a top-to-bottom review of homeland security in New Jersey.

New Jersey retains some of the best minds in homeland security in the country. All New Jerseyans are proud of the tremendous contributions that Governor Kean made as Chairman of the 9-11 Commission, and that Former Attorney General John Farmer made as counsel to the Commission.

It’s time to tap the expertise of our most talented and nuanced thinkers – people who will make certain our state does everything necessary to keep our citizens safe and secure.

By providing the kind of thorough analysis this state needs, this Commission will go a long way towards making sure the quality of our own structure matches the quality of the people who are on the front lines, protecting us every day.

Coordination must happen not just within New Jersey but across state borders and with the Federal Government. If the Holland Tunnel gets flooded, water will pour out both ends.

When the World Trade Center was attacked, New Jersey firefighters and emergency personnel raced to ground zero. Staging areas were setup in Hudson County, the National Guard took up positions on our bridges and tunnels, and we sent specialized units along with construction workers and other volunteers to assist in the rescue effort.

It is clear that in today’s highly integrated world, terrorist attacks often require a regional and national response.

Trains originating in New Jersey end in New York and vice versa. To defend our mass transit system, we need to make sure that – where necessary – police officers have the authority to work across jurisdictions. It’s a discussion already initiated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force that must continue.

If I am elected, I will work closely with Governors from other states – New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware — with regional authorities, and with relevant federal agencies to develop a master plan to pool resources and work together in a thoughtful and strategic way.

By approaching security as a common endeavor, we can prevent unnecessary duplication, avoid confusion in the event of an attack, and establish a common effort to press the Federal government for changes vital to our shared regional interests.

New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania face a common foe.

We are addressing common challenges.

It’s time to adopt a common security strategy.

In at least one area of common interest, New York and New Jersey are already working together closely: to secure risk-based terrorism funding.

Although the 9-11 Commission are our allies in changing the misguided funding formula – it remains in place, sending millions in terrorism funding to places where there are more grain silos than schools, chemical plants, rail links, and all other sensitive locations put together. It means that Wyoming gets $27 per-capita in homeland security grants, while New Jersey gets only $7.

Until New Jersey gets its fair share of homeland security funding, I will continue to fight this imbalance – in the Senate or as Governor – through every avenue available.

But the fundamental principle that we should base our funding priorities on risk applies with equal weight here in New Jersey.

As Governor, I will not fall into the trap of formula-based funding that leads to resources stretched so thin that no one ends up as safe as they should be.

And I will not let partisan politics get in the way of smart budgeting.

To that end, I will set new state guidelines for awarding homeland security funds that assure grants are based on risk, not politics. Aid should be targeted to the places where it will do the most good, no matter which party happens to be in charge.

No homeland security approach can fail to recognize the public service and public sacrifice of the people who stand on the front lines for our families – our firefighters, police, and emergency service personnel. From urban search and rescue teams to hazmat units, their contributions – often made at great personal and financial cost – make our communities safer for the rest of us. Although sometimes they get less media attention than their New York counterparts, our first responders represent some of the finest, most highly qualified, most courageous emergency professionals anywhere in the world.

It’s our responsibility to ensure they are equipped with the tools, resources, and training to do their jobs effectively.

We also need to do better at recruiting recent college graduates to take on this calling and to relieve some of the financial strain associated with public service. That’s why I proposed a loan forgiveness program that will provide up to $5000 in tuition tax credits for our firefighters, police officers, and paramedics.

A word of caution: even as we make the tough decisions needed to fix security weaknesses, we must not fall into the trap of xenophobia and bigotry that caused so much pain in the past.

The internment of Japanese-Americans stands as one of the most infamous chapters in our history. Prejudice and misdirected suspicion only impede counterterrorism operations, creating mistrust and discouraging people from coming forward with information that could help prevent an attack. It’s also wrong.

That’s why I will work with the Homeland Security Commission to make certain that its recommendations put a premium on protecting civil rights. The New Jersey State police have shown that protecting civil rights is a mission to be embraced, not ignored. Also, I will ask the public advocate to make sure that those recommendations are fully implemented.

All ethnic and religious communities in New Jersey want the same thing – to see their children grow up in a safe and loving environment. I plan to work with the Arab and Muslim communities in our state to foster the cooperation and trust so important to advancing our shared homeland security goals.

New Jersey needs to act quickly to fill various specific security gaps on our rail, mass transit, and aviation systems, at our nuclear power plants, casinos, ports, and chemical facilities.

For the past few years, I have been leading the charge for mandatory security upgrades at chemical plants. These facilities – loaded with dangerous toxins – can be turned into pre-positioned weapons of mass destruction. In New Jersey alone, there are seven facilities where a successful terrorist attack could release enough poison to kill a million people or more.

But chemical plant security is not just a New Jersey problem. There are over a hundred plants nationwide identified by the EPA as posing a similar risk.

Chemicals do not respect state boundaries. Depending on wind current and location, a chemical plant disaster in one state can represent a regional catastrophe.

To address this problem in the most effective and comprehensive way possible, we need mandatory security requirements at chemical facilities imposed at the Federal level. I’m still hopeful that we can pass this legislation before January.

But New Jersey should not wait for the Federal government to overcome its inertia. Just as our state has a security regime for our nuclear power plants that exceeds national requirements, we need to do the same thing for our chemical plants – and we need to do it now.

If the Federal government does not do what’s right to protect the citizens of this state and this country, we still have an obligation to make progress for the citizens of our state.

If I am elected, I will make sure that New Jersey has the strongest chemical plant security measures in the country. We should be providing a model for other states to follow, not languishing in the middle of the pack on this critical security matter.

Not a moment passes without a reminder of the way that American life was transformed by the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. The heartache and the courage of that day are etched indelibly on the collective conscience of all those who lived through it.

Since September 11th 2001, New Jersey families have developed a new awareness of the serious security challenges confronting our state.

Each time an official urges us to take note of suspicious activity or report an unattended package…

…Each time we are forced to walk through the airport barefoot, or to open up our luggage in front a crowd of perfect strangers…

…Each time we hear news reports about more bombings and more deaths overseas – like recent suicide attacks in England and in Israel – where they are facing the same brand of highly motivated, highly organized terrorists

…we are reminded of the fundamental need for homeland security in a post-9-11 world.

If I am elected, I pledge that no state will have a Governor more committed to improving homeland security than the Governor of New Jersey.

Working together, we will make New Jersey the best and safest place in America to grow up, to go to school, to live, to work, and to grow old with dignity.

Getting Ahead: Jon Corzine’s Plan for Public Education in the 21st Century

9/8/2005

Remarks as prepared for delivery
The College of New Jersey (Ewing, NJ)
September 8, 2005

Thank you, Daria, for that kind introduction. I should take you to introduce me at my next event.

And thank you President Gitenstein and the students and faculty of the College of New Jersey for welcoming me to campus. New Jersey is proud of your leadership and your growing national recognition as an institution of higher learning.

Let me also acknowledge and compliment, Joyce Powell, the president of the New Jersey Education Association, and Ralph Edelbach, the president of the AFT local here at the College. Great schools only exist because of great teachers, and New Jersey has many.

Let me begin in joining with all New Jerseyans in expressing our sympathy and solidarity with the families and students of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. So many lives have been lost; so many homes, businesses, and schools destroyed – so much of the ongoing life of that region threatened.

We as individuals and as citizens of the government of one nation must do everything we can to help those who lost so much. By opening your campus to students displaced by the hurricane, the College of New Jersey is doing its part. As we learned through the tragic experience of 9-11, our nation and our government institutions can and must respond to crisis and tragedy with discipline, compassion, and effectiveness. We will.

Just as government must act in tragedy and crisis – we must demand that government work to build the lives of our children by providing a quality educational experience.

Today, I want to focus on how we can make our state government work for the next generation of New Jerseyans – so they can learn more in better schools, earn more in the economy of the future, and have the perspective to embrace the complexities of the evermore interconnected and complex world.

As the school year begins for 1.4 million students at New Jersey’s 2,413 public schools, I can’t think of a better place than here at a great public college – an institution born as a teacher’s college – to announce my commitment to ensuring that all New Jersey children get the high quality public education that they deserve.

If we want every child to succeed, our schools must be devoted to giving all children the skills to excel at leading institutions like the College of New Jersey.

Let me say – I know I have been fortunate in life. I benefited from the support of my family, and the encouragement of my community. Terrific public schools opened the doors to greater opportunities than I could have ever imagined.

Because of access to a quality education, I have lived the American Dream. Now like all New Jerseyans, I want everyone to have the same opportunity to make the most of their talents – fulfill their dreams. That’s why I entered public life, and that’s why I am running to be New Jersey’s next governor.

With the right learning experiences, I believe every child can achieve that success.

It’s a belief instilled by my favorite teacher – my mom – who taught for more than thirty years – and confirmed by seeing my own children learn and by talking with teachers and parents across New Jersey.

Leaving no child behind is not enough. We need to make sure every child can get ahead. New Jersey’s students are smart, ambitious, and hopeful.

New Jersey is blessed with gifted teachers, and we claim some of the best public schools anywhere in the country.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, fourth graders in New Jersey read better than their peers in all but three states. Many of the highest performers on the SAT are from New Jersey. And our high school graduation rate is the highest in the country.

We have great strengths, but we also have great challenges.

This is particularly true when we look at where and how our children will be competing in the Friedman-esque “flat world” of the 21st Century.

Increasingly, New Jersey’s main competition for jobs is not Illinois and California, but India, Korea, and China. The latest report from the Program for International Student Assessment should be a call to arms for everyone: out of the 29 countries surveyed, 15-year-olds from the United States ranked 24th in math literacy and problem-solving.

Just as the race to the moon galvanized an earlier generation – the “education race” must mobilize us to meet the demands of the 21st Century.

Unless public education achieves its potential, our children will never achieve theirs.

If I am elected governor, I will lead an effort to instill in our schools and our children a passion for learning and reasoned thought that provides the values to achieve their best in this new era.

To that end, I will make certain that full-day kindergarten is available to every child in New Jersey. I will expand access to high quality preschool and double funding for after-school programs.

I will enhance the rigor of our students’ preparation in mathematics, technology, and financial literacy.

I will dramatically improve career training.

And I will align the curriculum for every school – from preschool to high school – with the preparation needed for success in college and life.

Throughout this campaign, I have talked about the need for our state to adopt a new strategy of “invest, grow, and prosper” – to safeguard hard-earned dollars while investing in a better, more prosperous economic future for New Jersey families.

Building on this effort, I unveiled a plan to reduce the property tax burden on middle class families and seniors.

But property tax relief must not come at the expense of quality public education.

No state investment does more to promote long-term economic growth and prosperity than our public schools. It boosts home values, increases community earning power, and grows state revenues through time.

According to National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers, for every dollar spent on early childhood education, we save seven dollars down the road in reduced welfare, criminal justice, and special education costs.

The flipside is just as true: when we under-invest in public education, we hold back our children and our economy at the same time.

Just think – it costs nearly 30 thousand dollars a year to incarcerate a criminal, but only fifteen thousand dollars to educate a child.

And furthermore, it costs only fifteen hundred dollars to keep a child off the streets and learning in an excellent after-school program.

As the demands of the global economy change, our schools must change too.

A high school diploma and a willingness to work hard no longer guarantee a good-paying job. It’s a reality I acknowledged in July when I unveiled my proposal to make it easier for New Jersey families to afford a high quality college education.

Of the thirty fastest-growing job sectors, seventy percent require an education beyond high school. Yet high school graduates often lack basic skills for success at the next level.

One in three Rutgers students takes remedial English or math – often adding a fifth or sixth year of tuition for families already struggling to afford four. More than two out of every three students at our community colleges find themselves in the same position – paying for learning they were supposed to have mastered in high school.

One of the most urgent challenges facing the next governor will be to close a “skills deficit” that shortchanges the dreams of too many New Jersey children.

The seeds for future success – independence, a love of learning, and a cooperative spirit – are planted in the child’s early years. Today’s preschoolers are tomorrow’s electricians, CEOs, teachers, and Governors.

Federal education studies stress the value of full-day kindergarten for improving reading and math skills.

While the state provides full-day kindergarten to all children in Abbott districts, more than half of New Jersey children in non-Abbott districts go without it.

It leaves many New Jersey children without the reinforcement they need to succeed in the early grades. It leaves teachers with less time to tailor their approach to the developmental needs of individual students. And it leaves parents – particularly women – scrambling to find childcare options.

If I am elected, I will enhance funding for full-day kindergarten, rewarding districts that offer it now and encouraging other districts to convert.

My goal is that full-day kindergarten will be available to every child in the state by 2009 – suburban and urban school districts alike – and that no child will be forced to spend first grade playing catch-up.

Whether a child gets enrichment even earlier – in preschool – also should not depend on her zip code. I plan to increase New Jersey’s commitment to early childhood education for all communities, and offer an additional 14 thousand children access to high quality preschool.

Research underscores what parents and teachers know: keeping kids engaged after the normal school hours has tremendous educational value, while allowing parents to balance work and family life.

After-school programs help kids with homework, and keep them off the streets, physically active, and out of trouble.

It’s no surprise that juvenile crime spikes between school dismissal and six pm. It’s also no surprise that a child without a supervised environment after the dismissal bell falls behind academically.

If I am elected, I will double funding for state-sponsored after-school programs so 10,000 New Jersey children will have a safe place to learn and play.

When our preschoolers and kindergartners grow into middle and high school students, we must maintain high expectations. We should not tolerate social promotion that lets students graduate ill-prepared for college or today’s job market.

I believe every child should complete a college-ready curriculum that includes a rigorous sequence of science, math, and English.

New Jersey has made admirable progress in improving its science courses for all students. Now, we must improve the rigor of our math curriculum.

All students must complete algebra by the end of the ninth grade, and by graduation they must have completed four years of high school math.

High-achievers in every school – whether they live in the city or the suburbs – will also be empowered to take on greater academic challenges, including Advanced Placement classes in all fields of study.

We need to prepare students for a high-tech.

A pre-engineering elective should be available in high schools across the state, with a special focus on encouraging female student participation. Equal pay for equal work depends on getting young women ready for the good paying jobs of the future. Our competitiveness as a country depends on the same thing. With China graduating four times as many engineers as the U.S., we cannot afford a world where women account for only 10% of America’s engineers.

The future of our state and the earning potential of our families depend on correcting this imbalance.

We also must ensure that all children are prepared for the workplace. If I am elected, I will make career preparation – for both those who are college-bound and for those who are not – a central focus of all New Jersey middle and high schools.

Vocational and Technical Schools – which long have emphasized preparing students for the workforce – provide some of the best public education in our state. They account for seven of the twelve high schools with the highest average SAT scores.

Vocational schools today are not just a road to a job. They can be the pathway to a career and a profession.

In fact, vocational and technical schools are so popular that – each year – thousands of students who apply are turned away. If am elected, I will work with education, business, and labor leaders to create “High Skills Partnerships” – so more students can benefit from a mix of academic courses and real world application. These High Skills Partnerships will link high schools, colleges, and careers.

We also will forge partnerships among vocational schools and businesses to create smaller, career-focused learning communities within traditional secondary schools. This will raise graduation rates and offer more students the education and experience they need to succeed in the jobs of the new economy.

In a global economy, our students need to be prepared with world languages and culture. Eighteen New Jersey schools offer Chinese – but that’s not enough. We need to do better at teaching the high demand languages that are increasingly important in the new world like Chinese and Arabic.

By 2009, our objective must be to triple the number of schools offering those critical languages.

In recognition of our own diversity here in New Jersey, we know the importance of Spanish knowledge for our economic future, our cultural strength, and our unity as a people.We need to redouble our commitment to teaching foreign language to children of all ages starting in elementary school.

I next want to address one of my personal passions.

Functioning effectively in a capitalist society depends on understanding how capitalism works.

We cannot say we have prepared our students to succeed in the American economy until they understand personal financial management – like how compound interest works, how to apply for a mortgage, how a credit score is calculated, and what makes a good investment.

Yet few schools in New Jersey – or anywhere else for that matter – integrate financial education adequately into the curriculum.

The JumpStart Coalition – an organization that promotes financial literacy – found that 65% of all high school graduates couldn’t pass an exam on basics like credit card costs, saving for retirement, and purchasing insurance.

That failure, is why I fought so hard in the Senate to promote financial literacy for the American people – for students, seniors, and the poor.

And it’s why – in a Corzine Administration – financial education will be taught right alongside reading, writing, and arithmetic.

In every area, teachers are at the heart of my commitment to invest in the best public education for New Jersey’s children.

Joyce – I am so proud to have received the endorsement of the 190,000 teachers and education support professionals of the New Jersey Education Association. I have listened to and I plan to continue to work with teachers, education support professionals, and parents every step of the way.

To ensure that every student has access to a highly qualified teacher, we must expand professional mentoring programs and attract more certified math and science teachers. I have called for a tax credit or loan forgiveness of up to five thousand dollars for new math and science teachers.

And to make the learning environment positive for both teachers and students, we need to ensure that our schools are as safe and secure as they can be. This means maintaining Governor Codey’s commitment to making the schoolhouse walls a fortress against the gang violence and street crime that undermine teaching and learning.

I believe the only achievement gap in New Jersey should be the distance between the school bus and the schoolhouse doors. My education plan will implement strategies that we have seen work – like smaller learning environments, a stronger curriculum, and state-of-the-art facilities – to help minority and underachieving students make up ground in reading and math.

We also must demonstrate a full commitment to educating children with special needs by increasing the number of trained special education teachers, emphasizing transition plans for those students, and offering incentives to school districts that educate special needs students closer to home.

For the highest need students, I will review regionalization strategies. For instance, children with high spectrum autism should be provided with the kind of specialized education environment they need to learn. All our children deserve the best education we can give.

But through it all, we must be mindful to use our education resources wisely. Our schools account for one-third of the state budget – 9.4 billion dollars – and drive 60% of local property taxes – or 10.2 billion dollars.

We must invest in what works. And we must watch carefully how every dollar is spent.

If I am elected, I will ask voters to elect a new state comptroller, with the authority to review all financial decisions so that we root out fiscal mismanagement, waste, and corruption.

We have raised the penalties for scam artists who target seniors. And we should do the same for contactors and government employees who profit at the expense of our children. The cost overruns and mismanagement of the School Construction Fund are a disgrace.

The mismanagement in the SCC steals money from our schools and the dreams of our schoolchildren. This represents the worst kind of failure – undercutting New Jersey’s basic obligation to provide every child with a safe and enriching school environment, and forcing students to languish in dilapidated 100 year-old schools.

Fixing this failure must be a priority.

First – I will hire independent, outside auditors to work with the Inspector General to investigate the utter failure of the state’s school construction program and hold those responsible accountable for their misdeeds.

Second – while some positive steps have been taken under Al Koeppe’s leadership, I will put a management and governance structure in place to ensure every dollar to construct our schools is spent responsibly and directed to our most urgent priorities.

Finally – I will ask voters to approve a new schools bond to honor our state’s responsibility to provide quality school facilities for every child.

With those reforms in place, state funding for school facilities will serve its purpose – to reduce the burden on municipalities, keep property taxes down, and provide all children with a learning environment where they can follow their hopes and dreams.

By making our public schools beacons of excellence, we can give every child in New Jersey a chance to get ahead and achieve the American Dream.

After protecting the safety of our families, educating our children must be the state’s highest priority.

In the nineteenth century, New Jersey committed itself to public education – enshrining a right to a high quality public education for every child in our state constitution. Now, in the 21st Century, we need to honor that enduring commitment and ensure that our schools give all children an honest chance to follow their dreams.

Stem Cell/New Cures Connection Kick Off

9/14/2005

Jon S. Corzine
Remarks as prepared for delivery
Hackensack Hospital
9/14/05
Embryonic Stem Cell Research: New Cures Connection Kickoff

Let me thank John Ferguson and Hackensack Medical Center, one of the nation’s premier teaching hospitals, for hosting today’s event. I also want to acknowledge Commissioner Fred Jacobs for joining us here, along with the families, advocates, community leaders, researchers, and medical professionals who come together today as we kickoff the New Cures Connection.

The New Cures Connection is about translating stem cell research into the cures for the ailments of humanity. It’s about opportunity and about hope.

Imagine a future where no child struggles with juvenile diabetes…
…or where heart tissue will regenerate and heart attacks will no longer be the leading cause of death…
…or where my mom, your mom, and mothers around the globe will no longer suffer the debilitation of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Today we stand united in our determination to see the promise of embryonic stem cell research become a reality…to prevent, to treat, and to cure the incurable.

With your help in the next four years, we will put New Jersey – the medicine chest for the nation and the world – at the leading edge of the most promising medical advances of our generation.

As Americans, we recognize the power of medical science to push the limits of what is possible. We are the country that eradicated polio and relegated smallpox to a Petrie dish. New Jersey was at the leading edge then, and it should be now. Americans invented the antibiotics that keep infections at bay and the operations that let us live longer, more productive lives.

We cannot let other afflictions continue to confound medical science and cause pain and anguish for so many human beings.

Until we are satisfied that no breakthrough is left undiscovered and no person suffers in vain – we must continue to invest in scientific exploration and transcend the outer bounds of our medical knowledge and experience.

The best scientific minds in our state and our country believe that by harnessing the power of embryonic stem cells, there are few diseases we cannot conquer.

While some may disagree, I believe we have a moral obligation to give our researchers the resources they need to pursue their life-enhancing and life-saving mission wherever it takes them.

When we know we can improve the state of the human condition through advances in medicine, we have no moral right to stand aside.

Embryonic stem cell research holds the promise of overcoming the most debilitating degenerative conditions. Parkinson’s. Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Multiple Sclerosis. Alzheimer’s And many others. It could help us take on AIDS, combat heart disease, and fight cancer.

As with all medical research, the ultimate success or failure of each effort cannot be predicted with certainty at the start. We are only beginning to explore the curative powers of embryonic stem cells.

But there is every reason to be optimistic as we move ahead.

It’s a dream that Christopher Reeve expressed so eloquently through his life, and is shared by so many of the people here today.

Researchers have already coaxed embryonic stem cells – the precursors to all human tissue – into becoming nerve cells, bone, and heart muscles in laboratory animals.

Just imagine what a few nerve cells could do for a person with a spinal cord injury or Parkinson’s.

As many families here will tell you, embryonic stem cell research represents the most promising lead they have.

It is their hope.

A sweeping majority of medical researchers – 72% according to one recent survey – believe this research will one day lead to revolutionary cures and treatments.

According to a study by the Bloustein School at Rutgers, curing Alzheimer’s could prevent three thousand premature deaths in New Jersey each year and save millions of dollars in care and treatment.

Simply put, we must give our brightest and best scientists the resources and the opportunity to explore this new frontier.

With so much at stake, we must not let politics and ideology deny the hopes and prayers of thousands.

In my view, we are long past a point where it’s appropriate to debate whether to support this research. Instead –we owe it to the people in this room and voters across New Jersey to set out precisely what we plan to do to ensure that this important and innovative research succeeds. At the federal level, progress has been stalled by a misguided, ideologically motivated administration. Despite the views of the medical and scientific communities and the protest even from members of his own party – the President has consigned federal funding to a narrow group of rapidly degrading embryonic stem cell lines. It’s bad science, bad medicine, and it won’t work.

Doctors Percora and Breslauer can go into more of the technical details when they speak later.

But suffice it to say that the constraints imposed on ethical and acceptable research are so severely limiting that real progress is all but impossible.

The Administration won’t call it a ban, but that’s exactly what this policy amounts to.

For people waiting for a miracle: a miracle that is almost here, time is too precious to let a failure of national leadership stand in the way.

With the Federal government missing in action, New Jersey must lead in the effort to conquer disease through stem cell research. With your help, I know we will.

Every Election is about choices, and this year is no exception.

My opponent and I have starkly different views on the appropriate role of our state in promoting embryonic stem cell research. Despite the increasing number of respected conservatives across America – like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah – who have broken with the Bush Administration’s ideological position on stem cell research, my opponent favors the president’s ban. In comments at a New Jersey Pro-Life Coalition Dinner, Mr. Forrester said that, when it comes to embryonic stem cell research – and I quote: “I think the President’s handling of this issue is in the right.”

I believe President Bush got it exactly wrong.

Later my opponent explained that he also opposes dedicating any state funds at all to promote embryonic stem cell research and that he opposes Governor Codey efforts in this regard.

I believe Mr. Forrester got that exactly wrong.

I don’t just want research to continue in New Jersey. I want our state to become the dominant player in the international crusade to mine the benefits of stem cells to improve the human condition.

Since 2001, I have challenged the Bush Administration to expand federal funding for that effort.

As Governor, I will bring that same commitment to advance this research in New Jersey. I am proud to stand with Governor Codey in this effort. If given the chance, I plan to pick up where he leaves off, and go even further.

At the very outset of this campaign, I made my commitment to advancing science in New Jersey clear. In March, I proposed the Edison Innovation Fund, a ballot initiative to advance the path-breaking research of the 21st Century. With the voters’ approval, we will invest public money to attract private capital and multiply our capacity to find and foster the new technologies that will drive the new economy and breakthroughs in health care.

As I explained then, embryonic stem cell research is one of the most exciting growth industries of the future – most importantly a chance to save lives, but also an opportunity for economic benefit.

As I said, New Jersey is “the Medicine Chest” for America. We are the “cure corridor” – with more pharmaceutical companies here than anywhere and some of the finest research institutions in the world. By partnering with these companies, we can increase the investment in public and private stem cell research and lessen the chilling effect of the Bush ban on federal funding.

For families confronting life-threatening diseases, every moment that passes without a cure is an eternity. Time is of the essence.

The New Cures Connection is not just a group – it’s a movement motivated by a singular purpose: to make New Jersey the international leader in developing stem cell therapies to fight disease.

I fundamentally believe that the success of this and any public investment depends on the support of the people, and I will join with you in building that support.

Today’s event marks the beginning of an extended discussion that will continue at New Cures Connection house parties across the state, in community meetings, and at public debates.

I encourage everyone to sign the pledge to join the New Cure Connection and work together in the coming months and years to make New Jersey the world leader in stem cell research.

We are a state of excellence, and we have the capacity to be just that: the world leader in embryonic stem cell research.

For more information, I ask you to visit CorzineForGovernor.com/stemcells.

When I led Goldman Sachs, its employees rated it one of the ten best places to work in America. Now, let’s make New Jersey the best and healthiest place in America to grow up, go to school, live, work, and retire with dignity.

By promoting stem cell research, we can eventually deliver life-saving cures. But we can deliver another, more immediate benefit: a reason for hope.

Now it is my distinct honor to introduce Carl Riccio who will talk from personal experience about what embryonic stem cell research means for him.

Speech On The Environment

 10/7/2005

Thank you Robert Kennedy for being here today. You are among America’s foremost protectors of our precious environment. You have dedicated your life to matching your ideals with action – to fighting for clean water with the Bay Keepers and the NRDC and to citizen access to the shoreline. You fought the world’s worst polluters in court and never pulled your punches. Just ask GE — you get results. You have my admiration, and it is a tremendous honor to have your support.

I see many other people in the room today who deserve praise for devoting their lives to protecting our environment – to keeping our air clean, our water pure, and bulldozers away from our precious open space.

Exploring our natural world as a partner with our devoted environmental advocates has been one of the best perks of my public life. Just last Saturday, I joined some of your colleagues at Island Beach State Park at the Governor’s Fishing Tournament. And I think it was a good sign: the winning fish of the Governor’s Prize wasn’t a red fish. It was a bluefish.

In all seriousness, I am proud to have earned a perfect score on the League of Conservation Voters’ most recent scorecard, and I am grateful to the Sierra Club for their endorsement in my campaign for governor and for cosponsoring this event.

Let me also thank Governor Florio for being with us today – and for his many contributions to our environment. He authored two of the most important pieces of environmental legislation for New Jersey history: the Superfund law and the Federal Pinelands Authorization Legislation.

Finally, I’d like to thank our hosts, IBEW Local 269 and its great leader Chico Marciante. As an indication of just how well the IBEW understands the nexus between protecting the environment and improving life for working families – the very building we’re standing in is powered largely by solar energy.

New Jersey is blessed with one of the most diverse and majestic ecosystems anywhere.

Keeping the environment healthy represents an intergenerational covenant. The Earth is a gift we received from our parents and ancestors, and a debt we owe to our children and their children.

As New Jerseyans, we realized long ago that our environment is one of the keys to our economic success and critical to our quality of life.

We have long been leading the charge nationally to tackle pollution, preserve undeveloped land, and clean up toxic chemicals.

Tragically, the Bush administration and recent congresses have been moving our nation in the wrong direction.

Today, we have a President and a Republican Party who take their cues on the environment from the world’s worst polluters, instead of from the world’s best scientists.

We have a President and a Republican Party who refuse to curb greenhouse gas emissions, negotiate and implement the Kyoto Treaty, or raise minimum fuel efficiency standards for automobiles – even as the threatening consequences of global warming play out on the evening news.

And we have a President and a Republican Party who think no area should be off limits to oil and gas drilling – not the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, not our national parks, not even the Jersey Shore.

How many ice chunks the size of Rhode Island have to fall off the Antarctic Shelf before this Administration understands we have a problem?

It comes down to this: if states don’t work to save our environment, no one will.

Now, it’s up to New Jersey to take on that challenge with a renewed sense of urgency.

If I am elected, I will make certain that New Jersey is a global leader in the effort to defend the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the open space we enjoy.

As a pro-environment businessman, I know we can grow our economy, hold down cost of living for families and business, and protect the Earth at the same time. Practically, it comes down to creative thinking and determination.

Averting the devastating effects of global warming is the fundamental challenge of our time. And it offers the most compelling example of how smart environmental policy can be a catalyst for economic growth.

The clear consensus of scientists is that greenhouse gases have begun to throw the Earth’s natural balance off kilter – heating up our atmosphere and our oceans.

Experts predict that unless we take bold action, weather will become more severe: winters colder, summers hotter, and hurricanes more frequent and more powerful.

For a state with 127 miles of coastline, this is more than an academic debate. If the polar ice cap melts – a prospect that may be only 65 years away – some scientists say that sea levels in New Jersey will rise by nearly two and a half feet – flooding our barrier islands and changing the very shape of New Jersey.

The results would spell disaster for our coastal communities, our coastal habitats, and our shore economy.

Global warming represents the worst symptom of a chronic disease: an addiction to fossil fuel.

But there are other symptoms. Mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and other pollutants are released into the air and water – causing cancer, asthma, and other health problems. On hot July and August days when ground-level ozone pollution peaks, asthma attacks spike by 33 percent – with poor and minority children and seniors from urban areas most acutely affected.

When the price of gasoline, natural gas, and heating oil shoot up, New Jersey families foot the bill for fossil fuels that are increasingly scarce. As you all well know, in the last year, gasoline prices have doubled, the price of heating oil has almost doubled, and natural gas bills are up over 30 percent. Just today, the Star-Ledger reported that businesses are feeling the pinch – with the rising cost of energy topping the list of concerns on a survey of small and mid-size businesses.

For the average family, this means roughly 2000 dollars more out of their already tight budgets.

To make matters worse, in the next 15 years, energy use is predicted to grow by nearly 25 percent.

Our over-reliance on fossil fuels represents the biggest challenge of our lifetime, and New Jersey must take the lead in addressing it.

The first step is to begin to treat carbon dioxide as a serious pollutant under the state Clean Air Act – even though Bush’s EPA won’t.

Luckily, New Jersey is not the only one taking global warming seriously. New York, Delaware and the New England states have joined New Jersey to develop an innovative strategy – the “Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – to limit greenhouse gas emissions across the northeast.

I support this effort, and I will work to get this interstate compact up and running, ensure that polluters are not given a windfall from the sale of emission credits, pursue legal remedies, and work to include more partner states.

New Jersey, however, must not shy away from acting alone.

Instead of building more fossil fuel-burning power plants and expensive new transmission lines to meet increasing demand, we should apply those resources to energy efficiency and renewable energy – like solar power and wind energy.

Today, I am committing that under a Corzine Administration, New Jersey will establish an ambitious goal for reducing energy use while increasing the production of renewable energy. By 2020, we will reduce energy consumption by 20 percent, and we will grow renewable energy resources by 20 percent.

Our state’s top energy priority must be to meet all new demand through upgrades in efficiency.

Several studies have shown that we can reduce energy consumption by 20 percent – virtually canceling out the expected 15-year demand increase – through strategic investments in technology.

I will establish an Energy Efficiency Portfolio standard, which will require that all contracts to sell energy in New Jersey do not just expand generation, but also reduce demand.

I also will improve the energy efficiency standards in our building codes to keep pace with the rest of the region. To minimize upfront costs, special rebates from the “Energy Star” homes program will be targeted to low- and middle-income families.

Since businesses are the biggest consumers of energy, they must be full partners in this effort. I will double the current 100 thousand-dollar cap on Clean Energy Fund grants for large businesses and work to expand the use of Combined Heat and Power — where otherwise wasted heat from electric generation is used to heat buildings.

And for the first time, I will open up the state program to weatherize homes and make furnaces more efficient to the more than 500 thousand oil heat households.

If anyone doubts the potential of energy efficiency programs to reduce energy costs, cleanup the environment, and create jobs – they should talk to the Jewish Community Center of Atlantic City. They recently installed high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, new window treatments, lighting systems, and other upgrades – with annual energy costs savings exceeding 32 thousand dollars. In a little over two years, they will cover all their out-of-pocket costs.

If we’re proactive – these kinds of efficiency upgrades will meet the new demand over the next fifteen years, but that alone will not end our fossil fuel dependency. Eventually, renewable energy will.

Today, just one-percent of our energy is drawn from sources like solar and wind power. If we have any hope of breaking the shackles of our fossil fuel addiction, we can and must do better.

A Corzine Administration will accept, adopt, and implement a Renewable Portfolio Standard requiring 20 percent renewable energy by 2020.

According to Rutgers study, adopting this new standard will generate 12 thousand new jobs in New Jersey.

To make sure ouur people will be able to take advantage of the opportunities that this new regulation will create, we must ramp up our “homegrown” renewable energy industry,.

As late as 1997, our country was the world’s leading producer of solar photovoltaic systems – like the panels that generate energy for this building. But by 2003 – Japan had outpaced the United States by a margin of 3-to-1.

To maintain our competitiveness, America needs to reassert itself as a dominant player in the renewables industry. If I have anything to say about it – we will.

We should be creating jobs in Newark, in Trenton, and throughout New Jersey – not lining the pockets of oil sheiks in Dubai and Riyadh.

The potential for job creation is huge – as the IBEW can attest. Solar power alone has the potential to generate more than ten times as many jobs as fossil fuel.

That’s why my proposal for an Edison Innovation Fund, a voter-approved initiative to support 21st century industries holds so much promise. Building on the foundation laid by the Clean Energy Program, the Edison Innovation Fund will put our state right in the middle of the renewables industry – which is estimated to generate 40 billion dollars in revenues by 2008.

By taking advantage of existing human capital and infrastructure – especially at Fort Monmouth – we need to establish a world-class center for renewable energy research and manufacturing.

Getting a handle on air pollution also means increasing the efficiency of our cars, trucks, and buses.

I will work with companies to promote car pooling, telecommuting, transit-checks and a range of programs to improve automobile efficiency, reduce vehicle miles traveled, and expand public transportation.

The State Government must lead by example and improve the state’s fleet efficiency. Expanding the use of electric-hybrids and buying more efficient cars will reduce the toll on our environment and – over time — save money.

Other states have implemented effective pollution-busting strategies, and New Jersey should piggyback on those efforts. I am committed to the “California Car” automobile emissions program, which will improve fuel efficiency and cut down on greenhouse gases.

To limit air pollution, we also must improve public transportation. In the Senate, I fought for federal and state funding for projects like the Trans-Hudson Tunnel and the PATCO South Jersey rail system – and I will continue that effort as Governor.

In the 20 dollar a barrel oil economy, mass transit investments made economic sense. In a 60 dollar a barrel of oil world we now live in, these investments have become an economic imperative.

But not every environmental issue lends itself to a simple cost-benefit analysis. We may not be able to quantify all the indirect economic benefits of making our environment a priority, but they’re there.

Open space provides an obvious example. The recreational opportunities of this asset and its aesthetic value are in short supply. Every day, New Jersey loses fifty acres of undeveloped land.

That’s why I fought to protect the New Jersey Highlands –a million acres of forests and farmland, rivers and reservoirs that provide fresh drinking water to more than half of our families.

It’s also why I view the recently passed fast track legislation as a profound error. In the name of streamlining, it eliminates essential protections designed to limit overdevelopment.

We can work to make the permitting process more efficient, but we must not give up the safeguards it provides.

Governor Codey did the right thing by suspending the law and– as Governor – I will make sure that the current fast track law won’t go into effect.

We must act proactively to save our state’s most spectacular and important resources or run the risk of losing them forever.

We already have a great program – the Garden State Preservation Trust, but that fund is about to go broke.

If I am elected, I will ask voters to extend the life of the Garden State Preservation Trust past 2006 and to create the “New Jersey Natural Treasure” designation to direct funding to areas with unique or threatened environmental resources. Places the Highlands. The Pinelands. The Meadowlands. Barnegat Bay. The Delaware Bayshore. The Sourlands. The Wallkill River will be considered for this prioritization.

Under a Corzine Administration, the Trust will expand and rehabilitate our state park system, improve public access to our lands, and focus green acres funds closer to where people live.

We also need to be mindful that while endangered species are protected under New Jersey law, their habitats are not. If our goal is to save animals from extinction, we cannot allow their natural environment to be destroyed. That’s why I’ll extend protection under the Endangered Species Act to animal habitats for the first time and create an incentive program to enlist landowners as partners in conservation efforts.

Clean water and open space preservation efforts work hand-in-hand. Creating natural green buffers around our rivers and reservoirs preserve the beauty of our natural resources, but also save homeowners millions of dollars in reduced costs for water treatment.

If I am elected, I will work to extend what is known as Category One protection – the strictest level of protection under existing law – to more New Jersey waterways. My support for strong protection for New Jersey waterways is a natural extension of my federal legislation now moving in Committee to designate the Musconetcong River a “Wild and Scenic River.”

I also will adopt the toughest clean water standard – the “wildlife standard” — for pollutants like mercury and dioxin, while tightening pollution controls on septic and sewer systems and non-point source pollution.

To keep our beaches clean, we need to keep our oceans clean. Let me be clear – if I am elected, I will employ every legal weapon in the state’s arsenal – from lawsuits to a public boycott – to stop Bush and the Republican Congress’s plan to drill for oil off the Jersey Shore.

My opponent says oil drilling is a “red herring.” With the potential for oil exploration to devastate our environment and the shore economy, I consider it a red alert.

Open space may be in short supply, but hazardous waste is not.

From Ciba Geigy pollution in Toms River, to Ford’s toxic burial ground in the much-discussed Ringwood area, to Honeywell’s chromium dump in Jersey City, communities in every part of New Jersey have faced the cruel consequences of our toxic legacy.

Our families shouldn’t be the ones footing the bill to clean up the industrial mess left by irresponsible companies.

My opponent has attacked me for my support of the Superfund tax, a tax on polluters that pays to cleanup the damage they cause.

My opponent wants people to believe that suing polluters is enough, but – without the superfund tax – many sites never get cleaned up. And when they do, average taxpayers are left paying the bill and polluters go free.

If we really want to overcome our toxic legacy, we also must not stand idly by as the most significant measure to hold polluters accountable expires. Today, I am calling on the Legislature to extend the statute of limitations for natural resource damages on many hazardous waste sites.

Polluters who poison our families need to get the message: they will be held responsible.

Let me also talk about another imperative for the environment. Elected officials who oversee development proposals must base their decisions on merit – not on politics or campaign contributions.

That’s why I have proposed the most comprehensive ethics reform plan this state has ever considered. It will bar people who conduct business with state, county, or local governments from giving contributions to political campaigns. Unlike my opponent’s approach, my plan covers developers too.

Finally, we cannot let poor communities get exploited in this process. I am committed to environmental justice, whether that means addressing the impact of clean air on childhood asthma or preventing eminent domain decisions to build prisons or cement plants. If I am elected, I will make certain that the DEP has the authority to reject projects that cumulatively or disproportionately impact lower income or minority communities.

A commitment to clean air, clean water, and open space is the foundation of a strong economy, and a more affordable and livable Garden State.

By pledging ourselves to defending our natural world, we will reduce pollution for sure. But we also will grow jobs and promote a better quality of life for everyone.

When I led Goldman Sachs, its employees named it one of the ten best places to work in America. Working together to improve the environment, I know we can make New Jersey the best place in America to grow up, go to school, live, work, start a business, and retire with dignity.

Thank you.