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Benson Condemns BPU’s Approval of Verizon Rate Increase as a Tax Increase on Seniors

Assemblyman Daniel Benson on Tuesday condemned the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) for approving a significant rate increase and the deregulation of Verizon’s traditional landline service that will hit New Jersey residents who can least afford it the hardest.

Benson has been the lead sponsor of legislation (A-2459) that would have prevented Verizon from replacing a customer’s landline service with wireless service without their consent.

“This is a horrible move on the part of the Board of Public Utilities. Those who still rely heavily on landline service are seniors, the disabled and residents in more rural areas, many of whom can least afford these rate hikes.

“Allowing Verizon to do away with service standards for landline service also raises serious issues when it comes to emergencies. Many seniors depend on hardwired phones for the operation of medical devices and security alarms. Allowing Verizon to raise rates up to 36 percent to keep landlines is simply unconscionable and tantamount to extortion.

“The BPU has allowed Verizon to run an end game that circumvents the legislature, ignores public opinion and essentially creates a ‘senior tax.’ To make matters worse, the BPU is now going to let the fox guard the hen house.

“I hope the board will listen to the public and reconsider this bad decision,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex).