NJ Politics Digest: State and Federal Budgets Catching Flak

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It’s the end of another week in Trenton, and the news today is budgets – how  financial rating firm Standard & Poor’s is panning the proposed state spending plan and what President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget means for state residents, the environment and public programs.

One thing not going into the state budget are funds from a big tax break awarded to Democratic power broker George Norcross for a development in which he is a principal. Lawmakers have been busy, among measures they were considering is a move aimed at easing lines at the state’s DMV offices by staggering the days of the month on which people’s driver’s licenses must be renewed.

Quote of the Day: “Christie’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal might look fine in the near term, but long term, structural balance remains elusive thanks to the state’s continued deferral of full funding for future retirement obligations,” – From a Standard & Poor’s analysis of the proposed state budget.

Wall Street pans Christie’s new budget plan
Gov. Chris Christie’s new $35.5 billion budget proposal “might look fine in the near term,” but it would ratchet up New Jersey’s fiscal troubles for the next governor, according to a research note by S&P Global Ratings on Thursday.
Salvador Rizzo, The Record Read more

Trump budget proposal has major ramifications in NJ
New Jersey could get less federal funding for arts programs, hazardous waste cleanups, heating assistance, security grants and university research under a budget proposal President Donald Trump released on Thursday.
Herb Jackson, The Record Read more

Trump budget cuts: How they hit Jersey Shore
Goodbye, Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Hello, higher flood insurance premiums.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Gateway tunnel in trouble as Trump looks to kill key funding program
In a move that endangers the ability of the federal government to pay for construction of the Gateway rail tunnel, President Donald Trump proposed a budget this week that eliminates New Starts, a key infrastructure grant program that was expected to be one of the largest funding sources for the tubes under the Hudson River.
Ryan Hutchins, Politico Read more

Pallone: Trump budget “not a serious proposal”
New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone and other Democrats on Capitol Hill say there isn’t much to like about $54 billion in program cuts to offset increases in defense spending in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.
Bob Jordan, Asbury Park Press Read more

Rep. Pallone: Trump NEA cuts are attack on diversity
An attack on the National Endowment for the Arts is an attack on diversity, said Rep. Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey.
Chris Jordan, Asbury Park Press Read more

N.J. approves $86M tax break for powerful Democrat
State officials approved an $86 million tax break for an insurance company run by New Jersey’s most powerful Democrat, George Norcross, an influential fundraiser in South Jersey and a longtime ally of Gov. Chris Christie.
Salvador Rizzo, The Record Read more

Meteorologist fires back at Christie after ‘underperformer’ blizzard
A former top meteorologist called for a “more responsible perspective” from Gov. Chris Christie after the governor declared on Tuesday he had his fill with the National Weather Service.
Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Trump wants to ‘drain the swamp’ at EPA. Will that hurt N.J.’s swamps?
President Donald Trump’s budget chief on Thursday outlined steep proposed cuts to many federal agencies, including the government’s environmental watchdog, telling reporters tough decisions were necessary to rein in the federal budget.
S.P. Sullivan, NJ.com Read more

Christie can now force Trump to release his tax returns in N.J. if he runs again
After a fierce debate between Democrats and Republicans, a bill that would force presidential candidates — including President Donald Trump — to release their tax returns to receive a place on New Jersey’s ballot gained final legislative approval Thursday.
Brent Johnson, NJ.com Read more

After court victories, N.J. groups vow to keep fighting Trump travel ban
Civil rights, faith and immigrant groups rallied on Thursday in Newark – one day after a federal judge halted President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting refugees and citizens of six Muslim-majority countries – and pledged to continue to fight an order they view as discriminatory.
Hannan Adely, The Record Read more

Why border patrol turned away Christians looking to volunteer at Jersey Shore
A Canadian church group looking to do volunteer with Superstorm Sandy victims at the Jersey Shore was turned away at the border over concern that they were trying to take away jobs from Americans.
NJ101.5 Read more

Assembly takes action on MVC wait times, gun permits
There’s a reason why lines at Motor Vehicle Commission offices tend to get longer at the end of the month: New Jersey driver’s licenses expire every four years on the last day of the calendar month in which the license was issued.
Nicholas Pugliese, The Record Read more

These 88 NJ schools had lead in water — ‘Poland Springs’ not real fix, activists say
A new report by Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center calls for comprehensive action on testing and remediating lead-contaminated drinking water in schools and communities across the Garden State.
NJ101.5 Read more

N.J. lawmakers try to spike PARCC as graduation test
An attempt to skirt Gov. Chris Christie’s authority and stop New Jersey from using the controversial PARCC exams as a graduation requirement won approval from the state Assembly on Thursday.
Adam Clark, NJ.com Read more

Former federal prosecutor lands position at Seton Hall
Fired a week ago, Paul Fishman is still cleaning out his office.
Ted Sherman, NJ.com Read more

State board cuts pension for Paterson cop in sex case
A retired city police officer who spent nine years on paid suspension while facing accusations of sexual misconduct may lose about a third of his annual pension.
Joe Malinconico, Paterson Press Read more

Fair Lawn to continue “soft border” policy discussion
The Fair Lawn Board of Education will continue “soft border” discussions, a proposal that could uproot new elementary students to other parts of the borough if their neighborhood school is overcrowded.
Alexandra Hoey, The Record Read more

Shore Episcopal churches consider sanctuary status
“Sanctuary” was never supposed to have a political connotation, said the Rev. Ted Foley of Christ Episcopal Church in Toms River. Somewhere between biblical times and the 2016 presidential election, he said, that changed.
Steph Solis, Asbury Park Press Read more

Atlantic City Mayor Guardian launches re-election campaign
Mayor Don Guardian launched his re-election campaign Thursday outside City Hall, where he hopes to stay for four more years.
Press of Atlantic City Read more

Cherry Hill East’s controversial Ragtime wins national theater award
Broadway has the Tony Awards. Hollywood has the Oscars. Cherry Hill High School East now has its own special theater honor.
Melanie Burney, Inquirer Read more

Teacher charged with assaulting middle school student
A South Jersey middle school music teacher was charged with assaulting a student last month, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office said.
Jeff Goldman, NJ.com Read more

Editorial: Comprehensive PA reform
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is a vast agency employing nearly 7,000 individuals. But it is neither of New York nor of New Jersey exclusively. The bistate transit agency is much like a marriage of two equal partners – in this case, two states. And unless the spouses are in agreement, radical changes are impossible.
The Record Read more

Remembering how the Irish in America’s story is about immigrant, workers’ rights
He was born in the rugged hills of Donegal, Ireland in 1833. He would die 44 years later in the rugged hills of coal mining Pennsylvania.
Brian Campbell Read more