Legal Services of New Jersey Needs Your Help

This week I received an urgent message indicating that Legal Services of New Jersey is facing a huge shortfall in their core funding and therefore faces their worst financial challenge in its history.  This comes at a time when due to the economic recession LSNJ is seeing a record number of clients seeking assistance due to mortgage foreclosures, evictions, utility shutoffs, denials of unemployment benefits, escalating collection actions, etc.

The note I received from my friend Rev. Bruce Davidson, Executive Director of the Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry urges supporters to contact their state legislators to voice support for bill S2881/A3968 that is pending in Trenton.  In fact, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will be holding a hearing on the bill on Monday, June 22, 2009.

Action can be taken in a number of ways but it requires people to call and write now. Please take the following action today to: 1) Call or write members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and ask them to post and release S2881/A3968 which imposes a temporary requirement on county treasurers to forward $300 from certain mortgage sales to provide funding for LSNJ.  See for the list of committee members. 2) Send a letter or call Senate President Cody and ask him to bring the bill to the floor for a vote on June 25. His district office address and phone number is: 449 Mount Pleasant Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052-2734; Phone: 973-731-6770; FAX: 973-731-0647.

To read the bill visit For a list of all state legislators with their phone, fax, and email addresses see the New Jersey Community Resources state legislature page at

Going Green: Commuter Tax Benefits

On my way home from work yesterday, on the train were brochures passed out by New Jersey Transit. The title began as “More money in your wallet” and “less tax out of your paycheck”.  As a daily mass transit rider this certainly caught my attention, so I thought I should share this information. In fact I’m going to pass it onto my employer to enlist their support.

Copying directly from the brochure, it reads as follows:

“The Federal Government just increased the pre-tax commuter benefit from $120 to $230 per month. That means you could save up to $1,000 a year on your trips to and from work.”

“To take advantage of these tax savings, your employer needs to opt-in to either the NJ Transit BusinessPass program or one of the programs offered by the providers listed below.”

“When your employer participates in a commuter pre-tax benefit program they will actually reduce the amount of payroll taxes they have to pay.”

“For more information visit and pass this card along to your employee benefits department. It’s a win/win situation!”

For more information, assuming you live in New Jersey, visit their commuter tax benefits page. Another useful page on seven other tax benefit packages are available at

Today I’m going to ask my employer, the County of Union, to give NJ Transit a call at 973-491-7600 so all employees who want it can sign up for this benefit. You should do the same.

P.S. The increase tax advantage was built into the the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 also known as ARRA or the federal stimulus bill. Go lobby your employer now.