My political philosophy:
New Jersey Will Rebuild!
Hurricane Sandy may have damaged our homes,
but will not dampen our spirit
I want to write to you about the extraordinary hardship that we've all seen from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. My prayers go out to all the families who have lost a loved one and I feel profoundly sad for all the families whose lives have been upended and are going to be going through some very tough challenges in the times to come.
The most important message I have for them is that your neighbors, your town, your state and your country are with you. We stand behind you, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get back on your feet.
I also want to take a moment to thank all the first responders and workers who have been involved in this process -- the linesmen, the firefighters, the police, OEM, DPW, EMS etc. whose personal sacrifices saves lives. We really appreciate them one and all.
My commitment to the people in this community is that the same fighting spirit will carry over all the way through until our work is done in rebuilding our community and our beloved State of New Jersey.
– Assemblyman Partick Diegnan
18th Legislative District
Leader in the District
September 23, 2013 - Patrick Diegnan stoped by the Thomas Edison Cente in the Menlo Park section of Edison Township to talk about emerging technology policy that Senate candidate Peter Barnes and Assembly candidates Patrick Diegnan and Nancy Pinkin support that requires utilities to obtain 2.05 percent of their power from solar projects in 2014, up from less than half of one percent of the state's power now.
New Jersey became the biggest U.S. solar market in 2012, surpassing California, and the legislation may extend that lead. New Jersey solar plants earn renewable-energy credits that utilities buy, and surging installation growth led to an oversupply that threatened to stall new development.
The change to the solar requirement to a percentage from the flat figure will accelerate the amount utilities must get in the near-term. That will also increase the number of solar renewable-energy credits they must buy, thereby strengthening our solar market and the manufacturing, installation jobs and companies flourishing in Middlesex County.
Leader in Education
October 14, 2013
Lawmakers: Spending by N.J. private schools for disabled students 'disturbing', reform coming
State Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), the head of the lower house's Education Committee, said today that reforms must be enacted to curtail "disturbing" spending practices at some of the state's 180 private schools for students with disabilities, which are paid by taxpayers.
(Star-Ledger file photo)
TRENTON — The spending of taxpayer money at New Jersey’s about 180 private schools for disabled students is “disturbing” and the Legislature should make improving oversight and eliminating waste a top priority in the coming months, two leading lawmakers said today.
Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), the chair of the lower house’s Education Committee, said he was “very surprised” by a Sunday Star-Ledger report revealing nepotism, high salaries, generous pensions, fancy cars and questionable business deals at these schools.
“Regardless of how positive one’s motives are, and I believe these particular institutions are clearly an asset to the most vulnerable population, that doesn’t mean they should not have the same accountability and transparency as public schools,” Diegnan said.
He said he will push for new laws or regulations to address the problems when the Legislature returns to work after the November election.
“It should be a priority,” he said. “I’m sure anyone who read that article would have the same reaction that it was disturbing.”
Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer), the vice chair of the Education Committee in the upper house, said “her blood pressure continued to rise” as she read about the spending, and agreed with Diegnan that lawmakers must move swiftly to put in place new rules to curtail the waste.
“It’s totally inappropriate to help pay for a Lexus and BMW and these luxury cars for people to drive, and give them these enormous salaries,” Turner said. “I’m going to call the Office of Legislature Services (today) to look into how we can best address this so it no longer occurs.”
The reactions came a day after the newspaper’s report, which found the state’s private special-needs schools operate in a twighlight zone of the state education system, under a special set of rules that allows them to spend taxpayer money in ways public schools cannot.
But unlike public schools, there are no elected officials to hold accountable, no school board meetings to attend or budgets to examine. As a result, the review found, questionable spending has continued for more than a decade — all hidden in plain sight.
Gerard Thiers, the executive director of ASAH, an association representing the schools, did not return a request for comment on the lawmakers’ reactions, but he told The Star-Ledger in a previous interview that he would be open to discussing new rules within reason.
He also reiterated, however, that the schools believe they are already over-regulated and should be left alone by the state.
Gov. Chris Christie’s office did not return requests for comment.
During the newspaper’s investigation, the state Department of Education, which is responsible for overseeing the schools, confirmed it was considering a proposal largely put forward by the schools that would eliminate many existing spending rules but would also cap tuition.
The department said it believes the change would save taxpayer money, but critics worry such a system would not stem the questionable spending.
“If they want to play by private-sector rules then that’s fine, but if they want to receive taxpayer money, public money, then they have to play by the same rules the public sector plays by,” Turner said.
Diegnan Bill to Help Military Spouses Find Work Becomes Law
America's military spouses are at the core of our Armed Forces keeping our country safe
(SOUTH PLAINFIELD) - Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. would help military spouses with out-of-state teaching license become eligible to find work more quickly in New Jersey was signed into law.
"Military families make many sacrifices while in service to our country, including frequent deployments and relocations," said Diegnan (D-Middlesex) the prime sponsor of the bill. "Moving from state to state can be a disruptive barrier to a military spouse's employment, particularly when his or her field requires a state-specific professional license. This new law will help make for a smoother transition to their new home."
The bill (A-2892) would require the State Board of Education to establish a procedure for the issuance of a temporary instructional certificate to a nonresident military spouse.
"Teaching is one of the most common occupations among military spouses. But unlike other professions, it requires a license, which presents a challenge for military families that are constantly on the move," said Diegnan. "The unemployment rate for military spouses is unacceptable given the sacrifices they make. New Jersey can always use good and experienced teachers. If these individuals have the appropriate licenses and qualifications, then they should have the opportunity to teach in our schools".
It would authorize a board of education to employ that individual as a teacher if they hold a valid license or certificate to teach issued by another state for which there is an equivalent and currently-issued New Jersey grade level or subject endorsement. They would also have to demonstrate competency in teaching in a manner determined by the State Board of Examiners, such as having taught successfully for at least three years, having met the New Jersey grade point average requirement for an instructional certificate or having completed continuing education units.
The bill defines "nonresident military spouse" as a person whose spouse is an active duty member of the Armed Forces of the United States who is the subject of a military transfer to New Jersey and who has left employment in another state to accompany such spouse to New Jersey. A temporary instructional certificate would be valid for 180 days and may be extended for another 180 days at the discretion of the State Board of Examiners.
The temporary instructional certificate would allow the nonresident military spouse to be employed as a teacher on a temporary basis while completing any specific additional requirements for an instructional certificate in New Jersey that were not required in the other state in which the nonresident military spouse holds a license or certificate to teach.
Your 18th District Team
Assemblyman Diegnan with
Senate Candidate Pete Barnes and
Assembly Candidate Nancy Pinkin