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Reflections on a Lifetime of Banking
Saturday, March 01, 2008 (1581 reads)

This year I will celebrate 48 years in banking, a journey that has been rewarding in many ways, one which was not planned nor even imagined. At the end of my “formal” career, I can honestly say that I have been blessed and am honored to be the head of two outstanding organizations – chairman of the New Jersey Bankers Association, and president and chief executive officer of Lakeland Bancorp Inc. and Lakeland Bank.

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New Jersey at the Crossroads
Saturday, March 01, 2008 (1530 reads)

Years of over-spending and fiscal mismanagement have finally brought New Jersey’s financial future to a critical crossroad. How the state’s leaders respond to this crisis and which solutions they pursue will determine the strength of New Jersey’s economy and our quality of life for generations to come. The time for finger pointing and placing blame is over. It’s time for New Jersey’s leaders to demonstrate their ability to work together in a bipartisan manner and develop broad-based solutions to put our state back on the right fiscal track. It’s also a time for courage, as difficult and painful decisions will have to be made.
To his credit, Gov. Jon Corzine and his advisors have developed an asset monetization plan for New Jersey’s toll roads as one possible solution to the state’s fiscal woes. Bradley Abelow, the governor’s chief of staff, presented the proposal to a group of approximately 75 senior bankers at the First Annual Bankers Legislative Day in Trenton on Feb. 13 (see page 24 for complete coverage of the event).
While there are components of the governor’s plan regarding freezing government spending at current levels and restrictions on future state borrowings that the banking industry and the broader business community embrace, there remain serious questions about the potential impact of the proposed toll hikes and whether certain segments of the population will be bearing an unfair burden. Much of the debate stems from pressure from taxpayers and the business community to cut spending before raising revenues through additional borrowings.

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Governor Proposes Public Benefit Corporation
Saturday, March 01, 2008 (1886 reads)

Gov. Jon Corzine has introduced his plan to cut the state debt in half by creating a Public Benefit Corp. (PBC). The governor’s financial restructuring plan was unveiled at his State of the State speech in Trenton and would require a steep increase in tolls over a 75-year period. The PBC would essentially borrow up to $38 billion to cover the cost of paying down half the state debt, which is $32 billion total at this time.
Other components to this four-part financial restructuring plan include:
Introducing a budget that freezes current spending at current levels (this component enabled former Congressman Bob Franks to come out and not only support the plan, but chair the group that will oversee its implementation);

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Helping Your Bank’s Bottom Line
Saturday, March 01, 2008 (1227 reads)

Healthcare costs are skyrocketing, and companies large and small are feeling the pain. In fact, in 2006, the average increase in health care premiums was double the rate of inflation, according to the latest survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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How to Give: A Banker’s Guide to Pay-to-Play Laws
Saturday, March 01, 2008 (2757 reads)

Since 2004, so many laws placing controls on campaign contributions have come out of Trenton that it has become hard for members of the business community to keep track of them. These laws take aim at eliminating the practice of rewarding political contributions with government contracts.
Commonly called “pay-to-play” laws, these reforms are a topic with which anyone doing business in New Jersey must be familiar. Despite their uninspiring titles (i.e. Public Law 2005, chapter 271) and their oppressively lengthy definition sections, ignoring these laws can result in debarment from conducting business with the government entities, loss of government contracts and civil penalties. Business people must be aware of the restrictions and reporting requirements these laws place on New Jersey and state businesses.

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TICIC: A Different Look at Lending
Saturday, March 01, 2008 (3110 reads)

NJBankers has partnered with the New Jersey League of Community Bankers to offer NJBankers member banks participation in a well-established, successful program to help them participate in Community Reinvestment Act lending. The Thrift Institutions Community Investment Corp. of New Jersey (TICIC) is now an endorsed vendor of the NJBA Service Corp.
Organized by the league in 1991, TICIC’s purpose was to form a lending consortium to originate affordable housing loans throughout the state which, in addition to providing an important service to low- and moderate-income citizens, would augment banks’ compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act.
TICIC seeks out significant projects, conducts the underwriting process and solicits banks to participate in the loan. The consortium is a valuable and advantageous approach, since many of the loans may be too large or perceived as more risky for a single financial institution to take on. TICIC is an innovative approach for banks to impact their local communities, get CRA credit for the participations, and spread the risk on projects that are experiments in socializing and revitalizing communities.

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Bankers Legislative Day
Saturday, March 01, 2008 (1529 reads)

Amidst eaction along party lines to Gov. Jon         Corzine’s budgetary proposals by legislators and the governor’s chief of staff, the 75 bankers attending the first Bankers Legislative Day on Feb. 13 received three pieces of good news.
First, all four legislators participating in the Legislative Leaders Panel spontaneously agreed to sponsor legislation mandating that a percentage of the money managed by the state’s Cash Management Fund be kept in New Jersey-based banks.
“Yes I would support the legislation,” said Assembly Deputy Speaker Jack Conners, D-7. “I believe that our banks can be competitive. It’s all about interest rates. I think it’s just dumb and bad business to send money out of the state.”

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