Democratic leaders in the State Senate and Assembly have laid-out an ambitious agenda for 2012. During the Assembly reorganization meeting , Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said education reform is needed by everyone working together to find common agreement in a respectful manner - not throwing around slogans and blaming teachers.

She also said democrats will push for increased access to healthcare by women and children, job creation, an increase in the minimum wage and a new tax on millionaires, because "it is basic fairness to ask the most fortunate among us to provide a bit more to help our disappearing middle class."

Oliver said in these difficult times we've seen our working class, seniors and residents with disabilities bearing the heaviest burden, and "demanding sacrifices of the past two years have been placed squarely on the shoulders of the middle class and the poor in this state…we are committed to fairness, this is something we will not waiver on in the 215th Legislative session."

She added democrats want to do more to help Jersey's major cities, jump-start the real estate market, and advance marriage equality.

Oliver said civil unions "send a message that same sex couples are not equal to married couples - that they're not good enough to warrant equality…our state's diversity has long been our strength - lets finally embrace all our brothers and sisters."

She also pointed out Dr. Martin Luther King said "the time is always right to do the right thing."

Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney said "marriage equality may be fiercely debated by Jersey lawmakers - but this is a simple idea whose time is long overdue…the time for equality, for justice and fairness is here and now…marriage equality is right, and it needs to be done."


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