Who controls "You" when you die?

Lots has been written about who controls your "money and stuff" when you die, but who gets to make decisions about "You"?  Who gets to say what your funeral service looks like, whether there'll be a burial or cremation, where your ashes might be scattered, or cryogenics or other alternatives?  Your might be shaking your head about the need to ask such a question, but I was just told a story that falls squarely within this question.  A gentleman passed away overseas. He told his brothers he wanted to be cremated, and the ashes scattered, but his ex-wife and children want the body back for a funeral and burial. Who gets to decide?

According to New Jersey law, the the first person who gets to decide what is done with "you" when you die, is you. NJSA 45:27-22 states that you can appoint a person in your Will to control your funeral disposition of the remains. That person does not need to be your executor, and the funeral/disposition can occur prior to the probate of the Will (very important as the Will cannot be probated until 10 days after death).

But what if you didn't appoint someone?  In that event, the statute directs that certain people or groups of people are given the authority to make the decision, in order of priority:

(1) The surviving spouse of the decedent.
(2) A majority of the surviving adult children of the decedent.
(3) The surviving parent or parents of the decedent.
(4) A majority of the brothers and sisters of the decedent.
(5) Other next of kin of the decedent according to the degree of consanguinity.
(6) If there are no known living relatives, a cemetery may rely on the written authorization of any other person acting on behalf of the decedent.

Going back to the example above, if the children are 18, they would be allowed to say will be done with the gentleman's remains, even though he orally told his brothers that he wanted to be cremated and did not want have a funeral. This underscores the point: if you want the person who makes decisions about what happens to "you" to be you, you must make your wishes known in your Will and appoint someone to carry them out.

An additional wrinkle in the example I gave is that the person passed away in another jurisdiction, not even another state, but another country. The laws of that jurisdiction will have priority over the laws of New Jersey in dealing with this question, but the laws of the other jurisdiction may defer to the laws of New Jersey law to answer the question, so it is still critically important that you make your wishes known in your Will.

Image: Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Caregiver Agreements can and do work

I came across an article "Protecting Your Future: Caregiver agreement protects assets" that reminded me how a simple, but effective, caregiver agreement can compensate a child who is assisting a parent, and perhaps lead to future family harmony.

The article give a good overview of how a caregiver agreement can be effective:

An example: Mom depends on daughter Janice for her care. If Mom gifts $100,000 to Janice, then goes into a nursing home in the next five years and applies for Medicaid, the gift to Janice will result in about a nine-month penalty period. Janice will have to give the $100,000 back to Mom to pay nursing home costs during the penalty period, or Mom will have to use other resources to pay.

Instead, using a caregiver agreement, Mom pays Janice $2,500 per month for caregiving services. If Mom moves to the nursing home in the next five years, the payments to Janice are compensation, not gifts.

A couple of details.  The agreement must be in writing and entered into before the compensated services are rendered (you can't say "Mom, give me $30,000 for care I gave you last year."  Also, since the caregiver child is getting "paid" they must report the income for tax purposes.  Also, the payment must be commercially reasonable to services a third party would provide - both in terms of hourly wage and fair room and board if the parent is living with you.

Since caregiver agreements transfer money over a period of time, they are better entered into sooner rather than later.  

If the child feels "funny" about taking money to care for mom and dad, a couple of points to consider:

  • If someone else were caring for them/giving room and board, that person would get paid
  • The child can save the money they have been paid to provide additional resources to mom and dad, or divide among their siblings if that seems "fair" to the family
  • If mom and dad need to apply for Medicaid, money that the child could have been paid for legitimately caring for their parents will instead be paid to the nursing home as part of a Medicaid spend down.



The Unintended Consequences of Marriage from a Healthcare Perspective

Beware of Second Marriage Nuptials even with a Prenuptial Agreement - Courtesy of guest blogger Steven A. Loeb, Esq.

Marriage is defined as [a]n act of marrying or the rite by which the married status is effected; especially the wedding ceremony and attendant festivities or formalities; or an intimate or close union ("marriage." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.) However, what a dictionary will not tell you is the fundamental concepts of a marriage and the resulting law governing a spouse’s obligation to support his/her husband or wife. Many of our clients are involved in second, third, or even fourth marriages today. One of the governing laws regarding marriage which most individuals are unaware of is commonly referred to as “the law of necessities.” This law, although well recognized and enforced in New Jersey, is rarely (or never) considered by an individual in the decision process of whether to get married. Basically, the law of necessities doctrine pertains to a spouse’s obligation to support the “necessities” of the other spouse during the course of their marriage.

While in many circumstances pertaining to a second marriage situation, entering into a pre-nuptial agreement is a beneficial idea to preserve the assets for the intended beneficiaries of each spouse following their death. However, in many states, the pre-nuptial agreement, while one of its intended purposes is to maintain that the debts of each spouse remain with said spouse, the intended judgment can be clouded when medical emergencies occur. Under New Jersey law, a hospital has the unfettered right to pursue an action against either spouse for most medical procedures, regardless of what your prenuptial agreement says.

In New Jersey, a spouse has a duty to provide for the “necessities” of the other spouse so long as the husband and wife are living together. Under New Jersey law, most courts would hold a spouse responsible for their other spouses medical bills provided they were living together during the period when the medical bills were assumed.

A recommendation is prior to entering into any marriage situation, an overview of one’s financial assets must be reviewed and a discussion pertaining to asset protection, estate planning, Medicaid planning, and the pitfalls to be prevented from a creditor protection standpoint must be addressed. 

Continue Reading...

Can your parent be a Dependent and you get a Deduction?

Clearly your parents can be dependent on you (an issue beyond the scope of any article) , but can you claim them  as dependents and get a tax deduction?

The answer - maybe (a lawyers stock in trade).  There is a 5 (possibly 6)  step test if you can claim a parent as a dependent and get a tax deduction.  You can find more details on the deduction in IRS Publication 501, although not necessarily more clearly explained.

What do you get if you can claim a parent as a dependent?  You receive an additional dependent exemption valued at $3650 and 2010.  This is the same standard deduction that you can claim for a dependent child, although with children there is not normally an analysis that you need to go through to see whether or not they qualify as dependents.

The 5 Step Test:

(1)  The person you're claiming as a dependent must be related to you or living with you.  This is generally going to include parents, grandparents, great grandparents, stepmother or stepfather, and an aunt or uncle.  Alternatively, the person must live with you all year as a member of your household. A person can be related to you and your dependent but not live with you   -- this is very important when a mother or father might still live in their own household, or reside in assisted living or nursing home.

(2) There are citizenship requirements.  The person must be a United States citizen, United States resident, or a citizen of Canada or Mexico.

(3)  The dependent person cannot file a joint return with any other person.  For example, if your mother is married to your stepfather, and they're filing a joint return, and you won't be able to claim your mother as a dependent.

(4) The dependent parent cannot earn more than  $3650 of includable income.  A great post from the New York Times "Ask an Elder Law Attorney: Claiming a Parent as a Dependent" explains this further:

Now, here come the tricky parts. The parent’s gross taxable income can’t exceed the I.R.S.’s personal exemption, which is set each year. It’s $3,650 for 2010. Social Security income, however, isn’t taxable unless someone receives more than $25,000 in total income. So if your mother’s only income is $6,000 of Social Security, then she meets this test.

(5) You, the child, and must provide at least 50% of the dependent parents support.  An example from the New York Times article.:

Let’s say your mother’s expenses for the year amount to $12,500 for food, lodging, clothing, medical and dental care, transportation and recreation — anything spent on her behalf. Your mother will collect $6,000 in Social Security benefits this year, so you have to spend more than that, at least $6,001, to claim her as a dependent.

This last point can be the most challenging to determine.  If you are paying all of your mother's bills directly, then it can be pretty easy to say if what you paid is greater than what she earned.  However, if your dad lives with you and you are buying your dad stuff (food, clothes, furniture) it can be more difficult to determine if you meet the 50% test.  You will need to look back to Publication 501 to determine the "fair rental value" of what you are providing.  There is a great article at Bankrate.com "Tax Help in Caring for an Aging Parents" that has more examples of how you can look at the support test.

Oh, and one last point.  If you are a "high income earner" the amount that you can take as a dependent deduction is reduced, and possibly eliminated.  If your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is more than $250,200 for joint filers, $166,800 for single filers, or $208,500 for heads of household (using 2009 figures), then the $3650 starts to reduce.  

Regardless of the complexities, the dependent parent deduction can put money in your pocket, so it is worth exploring if you are caring for older relatives.

Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Meet our Toms River NJ Attorney Team


We recently opened our Toms River office to service the needs of our existing clients who had moved to Ocean County as well as to offer services to new clients who wanted a local law firm with a large pool of talented attorneys.  Our Ocean County and Monmouth County clients now have a convenient office to discuss estate planning, elder law, probate and real estate issues with attorneys who focus in those areas of law.  Other attorneys also use this office as a base to meet with clients on matters dealing with litigation, business law and family law.

  • Vincent DiMaiolo, Jr., Esq. - Managing Shareholder Toms River Office.  Vince is a long-time Manchester resident who spearheaded the drive to open an office in Toms River to bring our legal services to his friends and neighbors. He concentrates his practice in the area of commercial litigation, with an emphasis on creditors rights, bankruptcy and real estate related litigation.
  • Henry H. Fein, Esq. - Shareholder, Tax, Trust and Estates.  Hank co-chairs the Corporate and Tax Departments.  In assisting clients over the years, he has seen clients retiring from North Jersey to Monmouth and Ocean County, but continuing to seek the services of a North Jersey law firm with whom the clients and their friends and neighbors have a long standing relationship.
  • Deirdre R. Wheatley-Liss, Esq., LL.M (Taxation), CELA - Shareholder, Tax, Trusts and Estates, Elder Law.  As both a tax attorney and a Certified Elder Law Attorney, Deirdre has seen the law and client's circumstances becoming continually more complicated over the years.  Her goal is to offer the efficiencies a larger legal  practice to clients with the benefits of  local service. 
  • Eric S. Kapnick, Esq. - Shareholder, Real Estate.  As a residential and commercial real estate attorney, Eric has assisted clients in all markets, good, bad and flat, to buy, finance and sell real estate.  Our Toms River office offers the convenience of local closings with the knowledge of a department of staff and attorneys devoted to real estate.
  • Stacey C. Maiden, Esq. - Of Counsel, Trust and Estates, Elder Law, Guardianship, Real Estate.  Stacey comes from Monmouth County to join our Ocean County office to expand service to local residents in estate planning, elder law and real estate. She also has significant experience in guardianship issues, bringing a new area of practice to clients.
  • Steven A. Loeb, Esq., LL.M (Taxation) - Associate, Tax, Trust and Estates.  Steve focuses much of his practice on asset protection, including the use of domestic asset protection trusts.  These trusts can be a valuable tool for Monmouth and Ocean county residents such as business owners, doctors, traders, real estate investors, and other professionals who are concerned with claims from creditors.
  • Kristen A. Klics, Esq. - Associate, Real Estate.  Kristen's goals are to help people buy and sell their homes and deal with issues of aging.  She often works to educate first-time home buyers, as well as assists seniors who are moving out of their homes to another living arrangement.
  • Christopher Koos, Esq. - Associate, Litigation.  Chris is a Toms River native who works in our litigation practice area.  Chris helps clients resolve the disputes within the offices of the Ocean County Surrogate, or before the Ocean County Superior Court. The Toms River office has allowed Chris to bring service from our attorneys based in Parsippany to his clients who have needs in Ocean County.  

Our Toms River office is conveniently located at at 833 Route 37 W., Suite B. Toms River, NJ 08755.  Click here for directions, and look for the building below.


Buying or Selling a Veterinary Practice

We are privileged to represent many successful veterinary practices in New Jersey.  When I was little I wanted to grow up to be a veterinarian, but found I was better suited to law.  One of the joys of being an attorney is that you have an opportunity to learn how other businesses operate and help them to be successful.  In order for a veterinary practice to successfully grow, either by adding another veterinarian, merging with another practice, or selling as an exit strategy, there are key infrastructure items that need to be addressed.

Courtesy of guest blogger Steven A. Loeb, Esq.:

The purchase or sale of a veterinarian practice requires a concerted effort by both the buyer and the seller. There are certain formalities necessary to address prior to entering into formal negotiations with any buyer or seller. In order for either the buyer’s or the seller’s attorney to draft a proper term sheet or initial draft of a Purchase Agreement , the following checklist of items needs to be reviewed thoroughly during the due diligence process and thereafter:

Confidentiality Agreement.
A confidentiality agreement should be entered into by and between buyer and seller so that during negotiations a free flow of information can be obtained and reviewed without the concern that information will be passed along to any other individual other than the buyer’s and/or seller’s accountant and attorney.

Items which will need to be incorporated into the Asset Purchase Agreement and Ancillary Documents:

 * What are you purchasing?

  1. Good Will;
  2. Intangible Property including Intellectual Property Rights;
  3. Cash;
  4. Vehicles; and
  5. Leased Equipment.
  6. Real Estate

* What aren't you purchasing? (Items Excluded from the Sale)

  1. Accounts Payable
  2. Bank Accounts
  3. Personal Property

* Is the Buyer taking over any of the Seller's liabilities, such as mortgage, line of credit, prior tax payments, trade debt?  Note that we generally recommend against that - the Seller's liabilities should remain the sellers

* If the Buyer is taking over some of the Seller's liabilities (sometimes that is necessary to make the deal), then what liabilities are being excluded?

Other documents and agreements that need to make up  the deal:

* Financial Statements
* Purchase Price Information with Formulary Information
* Physical Inventory
* Closing Work and Capital Adjustments
* Landlord Consent

  1. If a Veterinarian Practice is purchasing the business and leasing real estate, then Landlord Consent needs to be obtained.

* Deliveries at the Closing
* Non-Assignable Leases and Contracts
* Government Consents and Approvals
* Confidentiality Information (inclusive of Employee Retention)
* Employee Matters
* Payments for Environmental Inspections (if not by buyer)
* Non-Solicitation Provision
* UCC/Judgment Search (usually obtained by Buyer’s Attorney) 

The above constitutes just some of the varying degrees of information that needs to be discussed and negotiated. Prior to beginning negotiations, you should speak to an attorney experienced in the sale of a veterinarian practice.

Image: Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Who gets your stuff when you die? Personal property dispositions

Courtesy of guest blogger Stacey C. Maiden, Esq.  I note as an aside that the question of who get what personal property (jewelery, artwork, china, family photographs, furniture) can often be the biggest source of tension when administering an estate, even if the monetary value is only a fraction of the overall estate.

I was recently reviewing a Will for a client who indicated that she may wish to update her estate plan to leave some specific personal property to various people. Certainly, I could prepare a Codicil to her existing Will to add these bequests, which would mean legal fees and signing the document with the same formalities as a Will. But New Jersey law permits the use of a separate list or memorandum to dispose of tangible personal property not otherwise disposed of in the Will (other than money), which can be created either before or after the execution of a Will. The advantage is that the separate list or memorandum needs only to be either in the testator’s handwriting or signed by him, and can be changed at a whim – no need to go back to the attorney if you decide the china should go to Betsy instead of Susie.

I routinely include language in the Wills I prepare reserving “the right to dispose of certain items of my tangible personal property by a written statement prepared pursuant to N.J.S.A. 3B:3 11.” However, the Will I was reviewing for the client did not have any language referencing the use of a separate list or memorandum.

Revisiting the New Jersey statute and Uniform Probate Code §2-513 (upon which the statute is based), it seems that without reference to the use of a separate writing in the Will itself, the writing can’t be used. The New Jersey statute reads that “[a] will may refer to a written statement or list to dispose of items of tangible personal property…”, thus conditioning the use of the statement upon its reference in the Will. The Official Uniform Probate Code Comment backs this up, stating that as “part of the broader policy of effectuating a testator’s intent and of relaxing formalities of execution, this section permits a testator to refer in his will to a separate document disposing of certain tangible personalty.”

The use of separate writing to dispose of personal property is a topic I cover with clients when discussing their estate plans. It’s important to make sure the Will includes appropriate language for our clients to take advantage of this valuable estate planning tool.

 Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Playing the State Income Tax Game

Why did LeBron James cross to the Miami Heat? Because his tax adviser said so of course! At least, that is what is posited in a very interesting article "Play The State Income Tax Strategies Game Like LeBron James" by Trace Mayer at Citizen Economists.

As a free agent, LeBron had options. He could go wherever he thought he could win a title, get the most money in endorsements, where he could enjoy the best Cuban food and beach lifestyle, and maybe all three. After being courted by half a dozen teams, he had some really nice offers and some potentially lucrative deals. The biggest players were Cleveland, the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, maybe even the Bulls or the Clippers and of course Miami. LeBron finally picked Miami. Miami could arguably offer a lot, but I wouldn’t doubt that his state income tax attorney whispered a few sweet words into his ear about income tax strategies, like “$2-5 million a year,” that may have influenced his Decision."

The math really makes a difference when you are earning $44 million a year.  What was LeBron looking at with the other teams wooing him:

  • Cleveland Cavaliers (Ohio) - state income tax bill - $2.6 million
  • Chicago Bulls (Illinois) -- state income tax bill -- $1.65 million
  • New York Knicks (New York) -- state income tax bill -- $3 million
  • LA Clippers (California) --state income tax bill  -- $4.6 million
  • New Jersey Nets (New Jersey) -- the winner!, with a state income tax bill of over $4.8 million

And the state income tax bill for the Miami Heat  (Florida) - zero, nothing, nada.  Hmmm, so maybe there is something to the concept of people don't want to come to  New Jersey because of the taxes.

This does illustrate an interesting tax planning concept regarding gifting. Many times we  will recommend to clients that they create a trust with situs in a state other than New Jersey. The trust's income would then be taxed by the state income tax rates, or not taxed all, in a state like Florida where there's no income tax.  This is done by having a trustee who is resident in the state that has no income tax.


101 Tax Policy Blogs

Mark Macaluso of Masters in Accounting - Guide to Online Masters in Accounting Degrees has prepared a comprehensive guide to 101 Top Tax Policy Blogs.  He looks at know and newer site for those interested in stepping back from rhetoric and looking at how tax policy is shaped by politics and economics and how society is shaped by tax policy:

What’s better for the economy? What’s better for the general welfare? What’s more important, financial security for all or individual freedom? How do the government’s tax policies affect us as individual taxpayers and as business owners? These questions are all addressed in this list of the top 101 tax policy blogs.

For those already interested in tax policy, this list may introduce you to some new blogs you may not have heard of before. For those new to the world of tax policy, this list, which was culled from the hundreds of sites examined, includes the best of the best and will provide you with unique perspectives on tax policy.

For full disclosure Mark was kind enough to include this blog on his list under State and Local Tax Policy Blogs - thank you very much!  But beyond my appreciation of his recognition, this is a great resource for examining the options of how you fund the business of operating a government.

Photo courtesy of Piotr Bizior - www.bizior.com

Congratulations to Randolph's New Mayor Trina Ruane Mitsch

 A wholehearted congratulations to my friend Trina Ruane Mitsch on being named Mayor of Randolph last week.  I admire Trina for balancing not only a successful career as a financial planner with the roles of mom, wife and family member, but also for volunteering her time to help govern our town.  


America's Billionaires are Giving it Away

 2010 is the year of no estate tax.  It only goes to follow that the wealthiest of all Americans are rejoicing that they need not share their wealth with others, and can go back to counting their coins without worry about the government asking for their share, right?  Wrong.  It turns out that "34 Billionaires Are Giving Half of Their Fortunes Away" according to Time Newsfeed.

A a few week ago Bill Gates and Warren Buffet announced that they were going to solicit the very exclusive club they belong to, America's Billionaires, to donate at least 50% of their fortunes to charitable causes during their lives or after their deaths through The Giving Pledge.  The Giving Pledge is described as an effort to "invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of thier wealth to philanthropy."  You can even view pledges to see who has made the pledge so far.  Some names you will recognize

  • Michael Bloomberg
  • Warren Buffet (who is leaving 99% of his wealth to charities)
  • Dian Von Fursetnberg
  • Bill and Melinda Gate
  • Barron Hilton
  • George Lucas
  • Ted Turner

You can even see what has motivated these people who have been blessed with success to give back.. George Lucas' passion is educational innovations.  Michael Bloomberg believes that "by giving, we inspire others to give of themselves, their money or their time."

Within the estate tax code has always been the concept that you can give it in taxes, or give it to charity.  Charitable gifts are not subject to tax.  The acts of these individuals inspires me to think "Why don't more people take charge of where their money is going on death and instead of leave it grumbling to the government, leave it to cause you believe in?."   Think of all the change if The Giving Pledge was not limited to only America's billionaires?  The Giving Pledge has inspired me to have more through discussions with my clients about trading tax dollars for philanthropy.



The 14th Amendment is up for Debate? Seriously?

There is a lot of noise coming out of Washington this week that we need to re-examine the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.  What?  Excuse me?  I shook my head when I read these headlines, not seeing where this could possibly be coming from.

Let's look at what the 14th Amendment says (Section 1 being the most sweeping):

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Click here for Sections 2,  3, 4, and 5

And a bit of historical background for context courtesy of wikipedia:

[The 14th Amendment] represented the Congress's overruling of the Dred Scott decision to the extent that decision held black people were not, and could not become, citizens of the United States or enjoy any of the privileges and immunities of citizenship.[1] The Civil Rights Act of 1866 had already granted U.S. citizenship to all persons born in the United States; the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment added this principle into the Constitution to prevent the Supreme Court from ruling the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to be unconstitutional for lack of congressional authority to enact such a law or a future Congress from altering it by a mere majority vote.

More importantly, the 14th Amendment contains the equal protection clause that prohibits the government from treating people differently based on race, religion, gender, disability, etc. and is the fundamental constitutional support for the promise set forth in the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal".  Among others, the 14th Amendment was the basis to end segregation, and the underpinnings of granting women the right to vote.

So I see today that 14th Amendment of all things is trending on Yahoo and Google and go to an article.  "Whither the 14th Amendment?" at the Washington Post explains that:  

Chalk it up perhaps to election-year bizarreness, but suddenly the capital is debating whether the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ought to be repealed, refined or left alone.

Specifically, the back-and-forth, which started among Senate Republicans and was joined Tuesday by the White House, focuses on the amendment's citizenship clause.

A pair of Republican senators -- Jon Kyl of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina -- are not so sure the amendment's intent was to grant automatic citizenship to children born in the United States to parents here illegally.

Ok - In 1866, when passed, where do you think the additions to the US population were coming from?  The answer, immigration.  Regardless of where you stand on the debate, lets adhere to some historical accuracy.  In the 1850's and 60's, immigrants represented between 5 and 6% of the US population. Today it is more like 1%.  (US Immigration as Percent of Population1820 - 2004) .

Politico reports that "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday night argued that the 14th Amendment no longer serves the purpose it was designed to address and that Congress should reexamine granting citizenship to any child born in the United States."

I find it ironic that the issue of a constitutional amendment becoming "historic" in that it  no longer serves its purpose, given that such an argument echoes the 2nd amendment reformers have been saying for year.

Lets skip the rhetoric and focus all this time and energy on solving a real problem, not creating a red herring of sound-bites without providing a fair context for digestion.

Checkup on Gov. Christie's 88 Campaign Promises

It is indisputable that Governor Chris Christie has been cutting a path through New Jersey's fabric since January.  Whether a support, a detractor, or somewhere in between, this administration has and will continue to effect all New Jerseyans in material ways.

One question of interest always for all politicians is "how is the rhetoric matching the deliverables?".  Northjersey.com recently took a look at "How is N.J. Gov. Christie doing on his 88 campaign promises?"  Of the 88, they take a look at Promises Kept, Promises on Track, and Promises Not Met, with analysis of the impact of each.

Some Promises Kept:

  • No. 4: I will make full use of my veto pen — the absolute veto, the conditional veto and line-item veto — to shape legislative budget policy.
  • No. 18: I will require all new state workers and state retirees to contribute to their health insurance costs.
  • No. 53: I will appoint a commissioner of the Department of Education whose priority will be approving high-quality charter school applications.

Some Promises on Track:

  • No. 20: I will implement aggressive economic growth strategies via public-private partnerships like the "New Jersey Partnership for Action."
  • No. 27: I will strengthen our weak "pay-to-play" laws by eliminating special-interest labor union loopholes to ensure labor unions are treated just like any other entities that have contracts with government.
  • No. 30: I will increase honesty and openness in government by requiring fully searchable and transparency websites for all state and local governments and school districts, providing links to property records and taxes, government payrolls, expenditures, school-performance report cards and other information.

Some Promises Not Met:

  • No. 5: I will rely only on recurring revenue to balance our state budget, not one-shot gimmicks like federal stimulus aid or other revenue unlikely to recur in the future.
  • No. 23: I will fully eliminate dual-office holding by our state's elected officials by proposing immediate changes to state law.
  • No. 33: I will cut New Jersey's income taxes across the board for all taxpayers.
  • No. 83: I will consolidate all renewable energy manufacturing efforts under the "Renew NJ" program, which will promote and market the state to prospective energy manufacturers both at home and abroad and deliver grants, loans and other state incentives in an efficient and timely manner.