NJ Politics Digest: Christie’s Last Budget Takes Shape

Gov. Chris Christie. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Lawmakers got a $34.7 billion state budget through committees in the Assembly and Senate around 10 p.m. on Monday night, after a day of frenzied negotiations, tense testimony, movement on major legislation to overhaul the $73 billion pension system and New Jersey’s largest insurance company, a $12 billion-a-year enterprise.

All in a day’s work. But the budget is far from a done deal, and Gov. Chris Christie could cut it to ribbons with his veto pen before signing it. It’s his last budget as governor, his approval rating is at 15 percent, and the Assembly probably won’t be giving him a bill he wanted to reduce Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield’s $2.4 billion reserve fund. The Senate, however, did approve such a bill after a long and tense hearing.

The next round will be Thursday, when the Assembly and Senate take the budget to the floor for final votes.

Quote of the Day: “We want Horizon to be healthy, lean, a lean machine.” – Sen. Joe Vitale

NJ Democrats Propose $34.7B Budget Plan
Facing a fast-approaching deadline, New Jersey Democrats rolled out a $34.7 billion state budget Monday night with no assurances that Gov. Chris Christie will sign off on their spending priorities. Budget committees in the state Assembly and Senate unveiled and approved the new appropriations act for fiscal 2018 around 10 p.m. Monday.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Vitale’s Horizon Plan Clears First Hurdle
A bill to restructure New Jersey’s largest health insurance company passed a key committee in the state Senate on Monday, three days after it was introduced. The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee voted 11-1, with one abstention, to overhaul Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield over an outcry of opposition from company officials and supporters from across the ideological spectrum.
Salvador Rizzo, Observer Read more

Remembering Rick Rosenberg; GOP Consultant Dies at 32
Rick Rosenberg’s colleagues described him as one of the “good guys” in New Jersey politics, a tireless operative admired for his even-keeled competence. So the Republican consultant’s unexpected death at 32 on Saturday morning touched off a wave of sadness and disbelief.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Hundreds gather at Statehouse to protest Horizon reform proposal
In its ongoing fight against Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to take money from its capital reserves, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey mobilized an army of supporters who descended on the Statehouse on Monday to protest the governor’s efforts.
Katie Jennings, Politico Read more

Christie declines to say what he’ll do if he doesn’t get Horizon bill
Gov. Chris Christie said Monday he remains ready to sign a state budget and awaits action by lawmakers, but declined to say whether he would do so if the Legislature doesn’t send him a bill to restructure Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.
Katherine Landergan, Politico Read more

Blue Cross in crosshairs as Christie and lawmakers wrangle over budget issues
New Jersey lawmakers plan this week to take up a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, but looming over the $36 billion spending proposal is a heated debate over the state’s largest health insurance company.
Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Read more

Paid Family Leave Expansion Heads to Christie
The state Legislature gave final passage on Monday to a bill that would double the number of weeks of paid leave for workers who are caring for a child or sick relative.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Christie friend Michele Brown clears committee for Horizon board
Michele Brown, a longtime friend of Gov. Chris Christie, was overwhelmingly approved Monday by a legislative panel to become a member of the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey board of directors.
Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

Senate committee advances measure to protect N.J. patients from surprise medical bills
A key Senate committee approved a measure to protect New Jersey consumers from surprise medical bills on Monday, sending it to the full Senate – the most progress the measure has made in two years of fraught negotiations among health-care providers, insurance companies, and patient advocates.
Lindy Washburn, The Record Read more

Your next employer might be banned from asking your salary history
Gov. Chris Christie gets to decide whether New Jersey will become the latest state in a nationwide fight to ban employers from asking you about your salary history.
Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

NJ task force has to-do list for colleges on curbing sex assaults
Don’t blame alcohol for sex assaults on campus, or the clothes young women wear. Walking alone at night is not an invitation to be assaulted. And instead of blaming the victims, colleges should work to discourage would-be perpetrators.
Melanie Burney, Inquirer Read more

New Jersey close to banning baby mattresses linked to deaths
The New Jersey Senate unanimously passed a bill that would ban the sale of supplemental baby mattresses designed for playpens after they were linked to dozens of infant deaths.
PIX11 Read more

Trump likely to spend Fourth of July weekend in N.J.
President Donald Trump will likely spend the weekend leading up to the Fourth of July at his Bedminster golf club.
Kathleen O’Brien, NJ.com Read more

Judge dismisses Facebook defamation case
A defamation suit filed by a former Northern Valley Regional School District trustee over Facebook posts has been dismissed.
Marc Lightdale, The Record Read more

N.J. Senate won’t vote on bill advocated by ‘sham’ business
Senate President Stephen Sweeney said Monday that he did not plan to hold a vote on a bill that would benefit a South Jersey business that state investigators say is a “sham” with ties to the mob.
Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Read more

NJ Lawmakers Approve Pay Hikes for Transit Workers
Airport and transit workers would be in line for bigger paychecks under a bill that passed the state Legislature on Monday.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Layoffs of county police officers to begin this afternoon, union says
Staffing cuts to the county’s Bureau of Police Services will begin this afternoon, police union officials said Monday.
Steve Janoski, The Record Read more

Freeholder Anthony Romano to run for mayor of Hoboken
Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano will run for mayor of Hoboken, his campaign manager said Monday.
Steve Strunsky, NJ.com Read more

Courtroom burp lands N.J. man in contempt
A New Jersey man was cited with contempt of court after he allegedly refused to apologize for burping in Millville Municipal Court.
Mari A. Schaefer, Inquirer Read more

Pool party a reminder that mansion isn’t Christie’s house
The word is out that there’s going to be a pool party bash at the governor’s mansion on Aug. 26.
Times of Trenton Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Christie’s Last Budget Takes Shape