PolitickerNJ News Digest: May 27th

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It’s the end of the week in New Jersey, and as we go into the holiday weekend, Atlantic City’s fate is looking brighter while boardwalk workers are heartened by the prospect of earning some good money for serving cotton candy and spinning the Wheel of Fortune.

Quote of the Day: “The focus must be on comprehensive tax reform and reducing the high cost of living in New Jersey so that people in entry-level jobs can afford to live here and advance in their careers.” – Michele Siekerka, president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, reacting to the Assembly passing the $15 minimum wage bill.

FDU Poll: Sweeney the Frontrunner over His 2017 Dem Rivals
State Senate President Steve Sweeney(D-3) leads other possible 2017 gubernatorial contenders in New Jersey, both in regard to name recognition and favorability ratings, according to this morning’s Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Legislature Approves Atlantic City Takeover Compromise
After months of delays and mutual recrimination between the city and state, the state Assembly and Senate approved an amended Atlantic City rescue package Thursday. The successful bill would give the city 150 days to balance its nearly $100 million budget shortfall for 2017, then hold it accountable for doing the same over a period of five years in order to avoid a state takeover of its finances.
JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

$15 Minimum Wage Bill Passes Assembly
The state Assembly approved a measure to increase New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour Thursday. Over objections on the floor from Republicans like Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon of the 13th district and ‘No’ votes from Democrats like Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey of the 11th, the bill will now go the the Senate.
JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

Dems in Battleground Districts Shy Away from $15 Minimum Wage Boost
On Thursday, legislation that would implement a $15 minimum wage phase in was approved by the New Jersey General Assembly. While the bill was sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assembly Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski, Assembly Budget Chairman Gary Schaer and Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, not all of New Jersey’s assembly Democrats were on board with the bill.
Alyana Alfaro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Congressional Primary Roundup: Information About the June 7 Races
While the congressional contests in some districts like CD1 and CD7 have gotten quite a bit of coverage leading up to the June 7 New Jersey primary, there are a number of congressional races happening in the state that have gotten less attention. With fewer than two weeks left before voters make their way to the polls to vote in the primary, PolitickerNJ did a roundup of what is happening in each congressional district. In some, there has been little activity. In others, a number of candidates will be on the ballot but little to no fundraising has been reported.
Alyana Alfaro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Giffords Joins Green in Union County for Clinton HQ Opening
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband, retired Astronaut Mark Kelly yesterday marked opening of Hillary Clinton for President Campaign HQ in Clark.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Jeff Tittel and the Roots of a Reconfigured NJ Prez Politics Game
The last time New Jersey decided a Democratic Presidential Primary also marked the beginning of the end of an old template, which Ronald Reagan would beat in the general election, first in 1984, prior to Reagan’s successor George Herbert Walker Bush defeating it again in 1988, before Arkansas Democrat Bill Clinton came along in 1992 with a reconfigured campaign model and a successful plan to turn New Jersey into a blue state.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Labor Leaders Bring ‘Bernie Bus’ To Striking Verizon Workers
As the New Jersey primary approaches, Verizon workers’ ongoing strike in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic has become a flashpoint for Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters in the state. Congressional candidate Jim Keady joined members of the state CWA, ATU, IBEW and AFL-CIO as Verizon workers assembled outside one of the telecom giant’s retail locations in South Jersey Thursday.
JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

Alliance for Retired Americans Endorses Norcross in CD1
The Alliance for Retired Americans today announced its endorsement of incumbent U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1).
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Murphy Petition Tells Christie to ‘Quit Now’
Gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy launched an online petition drive on Thursday telling current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to step down from his post.
Alyana Alfaro, PolitickerNJ Read more

New Jersey Assembly OKs bill banning smoking at public beaches, parks
The Assembly voted 62-7 on Thursday to ban smoking on beaches and in public parks.
John C. Ensslin, The Record Read more

Pension Meeting Ends in Cliffhanger
It was supposed to be another staid meeting of the board that oversees New Jersey’s $71 billion public-employee pension system. It ended with a dramatic deadlocked vote on a key policy issue — how heavily pension assets should be invested in hedge funds — and an equally dramatic threat from one veteran board member to immediately tender his resignation.
John Reitmeyer, NJ Spotligh Read more

Court: New Jersey can’t give $11M to religious schools
A state appeals court revoked $11 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies for two theological schools on Thursday, ruling that such grants defy the state constitution’s ban on using public funds for religious purposes.
Salvador Rizzo, The Record Read more

Judge approves recount in contested Paterson ward election
Election officials will conduct a recount in the contested 2nd Ward city council race, under an order signed by Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela on Wednesday.
Joe Malinconico, The Record Read more

Name your poison for fixing the roads: a gas tax hike or a property tax hike
Twice last weekend I had to make the dreaded drive from Brick Township to Toms River.
Paul Mulshine, The Star Ledger Read more

Lawmaker: N.J. roads can be fixed without gas tax hike
State Sen. Jennifer Beck on Thursday announced she is introducing two sweeping bills to free up billions of dollars in the state budget to fund the near-broke Transportation Trust Fund for seven years without raising the gas tax.
Samantha Marcus, NJ.com Read more

Christie takes sides on N.J.’s great Taylor Ham vs. pork roll debate
Gov. Chris Christie sought to put an end to the raging culinary debate over whether what to call the Garden State’s beloved breakfast sandwich.
Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ.com Read more

Assembly speaker: Fight for Atlantic City compromise was worth it for N.J.
Atlantic City is experiencing a serious fiscal problem. Property values have plummeted and municipal budgets have not reflected the lower tax revenues. For the first time since 1938 a municipal government in New Jersey might not be able to pay its bills and is threatened with bankruptcy. Many entities have a responsibility in this crisis, including local, county and state governments.
Vincent Prieto, NJ.com Read more

Christie unveils major reforms to benefit N.J. charter schools
Citing a “broken and unaffordable” education system and lengthy waiting lists for charter schools, Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday proposed sweeping reforms that he said would give charter schools greater flexibility in hiring staff and better access to high quality facilities.
Adam Clark, NJ.com Read more

Harrison councilman, 67, dies after five-year battle with cancer
Harrison Councilman Victor Villalta was a man filled with pride in his adopted country, his military service, his Peruvian heritage and his family.
Rose Duger, Jersey Journal Read more