NJ Politics Digest: Ratings Agency Warns Christie on Horizon

Gov. Chris Christie. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Gov. Chris Christie seems to be hoping his anti-opioid effort will restore his damaged reputation, but Wall Street credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s has warned the raiding Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield’s reserves to fund his treatment program could lead to a downgrade of the health insurer’s credit rating.

The race to replace Christie is off to a relatively slow start, maybe because no one wants to be responsible for tackling the state’s current transportation woes, as outlined in this report.

Meanwhile, Christie — who has amassed 11 downgrades of the state’s credit rating, hit historic lows in the polls, and seen several of his close associates guilty in the Bridgegate scandal and of shaking down United Airlines — says he has no big regrets after seven and a half years leading the state.

Quote of the Day: “If the governor wants to salvage what is left of his reputation, he should fund it himself.” – Former Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, on Gov. Chris Christie’s demand Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield help fund Christie’s anti-opioid efforts.

S&P: Raiding Horizon Reserves Could Cause Downgrade
Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to raid the reserves kept by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield could lead to a downgrade of the insurer’s ‘A’ credit rating, according to a report released Friday by S&P Global Ratings.
Salvador Rizzo, Observer Read more

Christie’s successor will face transportation tests
New Jersey’s next governor stands to inherit a still-stalled plan to build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, a transit system racked by recent maintenance and safety issues, and a driving public unhappy about gas tax increases.
Associated Press Read more

Amtrak warns of ‘significant outages’ as N.J. lawmakers seek answers on commuter chaos
Commuters will face “significant outages” during work at New York City’s Penn Station this summer, Amtrak officials said Friday, testifying before New Jersey lawmakers about the agency’s response to a series of breakdowns at the station over the past month.
Maddie Hanna, Inquirer Read more

Thousands expected to rally on May 1 for immigrant rights
Immigrant rights groups and their allies are staging what they hope will be the largest May 1 rally since 2006 — when hundreds of thousands across the country poured into the streets to demand immigration reform.
Karen Yi, NJ.com Read more

Federal break for NJ’s high taxes is on chopping block
With most federal programs, New Jersey pays more to Washington than it gets back.
Herb Jackson, The Record Read more

Christie: ‘No big regrets’ as governor
Gov. Chris Christie, who leaves office at the end of the year, says he’s not concerned about his near-record low job approval ratings.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

Eye doc Melgen guilty in one of nation’s biggest Medicare fraud cases
Chalking up one of the biggest health-care fraud convictions in the nation, a federal jury on Friday convicted Palm Beach County retinal specialist Dr. Salomon Melgen of 67 charges for operating what prosecutors called a massive scheme that robbed Medicare out of as much as $105 million.
Palm Beach Post Read more

Christie confident Trump will keep Medicaid expansion
As members of the country’s majority party continue to fight one another over changes to health care law, Gov. Chris Christie is confident of at least one outcome: New Jersey’s Medicaid expansion will remain in effect. Meanwhile, Christie is examining federal spending in an effort to find money to support changes addressing a deadly opioid abuse crisis sweeping the nation.
Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

A Sluggish Start to New Jersey’s Race for Governor
The candidates for governor in the New Jersey Democratic primary pack impressive résumés: There is a former ambassador to Germany, a former under secretary of the Treasury, a state assemblyman with two decades of experience and a state senator with nearly four decades in Trenton.
Nick Corasaniti, New York Times Read more

Weinberg Stands By Sweeney Amid NJEA Attacks
One of the most liberal state lawmakers, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, gave an extended defense of Senate President Stephen Sweeney on Friday as he comes under attack from the New Jersey Education Association.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Jersey Playbook interview: Senate President Stephen Sweeney
When you ask state and federal authorities to investigate New Jersey’s largest public employees union, you can bet the union isn’t going to forget.
Matt Friedman, Politico Read more

NJ Legislators and Activists Launch Anti-Trump Coalition
On the 99th day of President Trump’s administration, New Jersey lawmakers and activists launched what they called a “legislative resistance” against proposals from Washington that they say would undermine Garden State values and public safety.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Jersey Shore to Trump: Don’t mess with our clean water
History taught New Jersey a clear lesson: Tourism depends on a clean ocean.
Jacqueline L. Urgo, Inquirer Read more

Final vote delayed in Jersey City Heights rezoning plan
The school board has revised rezoning plans that would affect students in the Jersey City Heights, delaying a final vote that was scheduled for Thursday night until next month.
Caitlin Mota, The Jersey Journal Read more

Nay votes on $332M Morris budget draws ‘political theatrics’ accusation
Two Morris County freeholders who are running in the June 6 GOP primary for Assembly seats representing the 26th Legislative District have been accused by their colleague, Freeholder Thomas Mastrangelo, of “political theatrics” for voting against adoption of the county’s $332 million budget for 2017.
Peggy Wright, Daily Record Read more

Wayne candidates cry foul over ballot position
A slate of Wayne municipal candidates led by mayoral challenger Lonni Miller Ryan has filed a complaint in Superior Court, alleging that the bracket they formed with two freeholder candidates for the June 6 primary was illegally broken, bumping them to the bottom of the primary ballot in Passaic County.
Richard Cowen, The Record Read more

No mass layoffs, taxes to increase under $915M Newark schools budget
The Newark school district will not impose massive layoffs and instead hire 109 new employees under its proposed $915 million budget for next year.
Karen Yi, NJ.com Read more

Marquee middle school in peril in latest episode of Cherry Hill’s east-side, west-side story
No plans have been finalized, no mandates issued, and no votes taken to end the Rosa International Middle School program and make other rather radical changes to the structure of public education in Cherry Hill.
Kevin Riordan, Inquirer Read more

Who is Jim Johnson and why is he running to succeed Christie as N.J. governor?
The massacre occurred more than 700 miles from Jim Johnson’s hometown of Montclair. But it was part of the reason he entered this year’s race for New Jersey governor.
Brent Johnson, NJ.com Read more

Forget decriminalization. Time to legalize weed
New Jersey is clearly moving to join the many states that have legalized recreational marijuana – eight in just the last five years.
Star-Ledger Read more