NJ Politics Digest: Inauguration Day and Christie’s Last-Minute Largesse

Phil Murphy Alyana Alfaro for Observer

It’s inauguration day, as Phil Murphy becomes the next governor and Chris Christie takes his place in the history books. It can’t come soon enough for many New Jersey residents, as Christie’s record-low poll numbers indicate. But that doesn’t mean Murphy will have it easy.

The state faces numerous problems, ranging from an underfunded pension system to the problem-plagued NJ Transit, and people are looking to Murphy to fix them, while keeping the state’s notoriously high property taxes and powerful public unions in check.
Christie, who spent eight years railing against the state’s public workers and trying to rein in their pension costs, provided one last reminder of why residents are so soured on him, signing off on a Democratic plan to sweeten the pension of a politically connected Camden bigwig.

Quote of the Day: “I’m happy to see him go. I really liked Christie when he started. I don’t like him now.” — Pat Wonder, a Hawthorne resident on the governor’s departure.

Winners and Losers: The Week of Christie’s Last State of the State
It was a big week in New Jersey as the legislature reorganized, former Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto handed over his post to Speaker Craig Coughlin and Gov. Chris Christie made his final State of the State Address.
Observer Read more

Phil Murphy Taps Lamont Repollet for Education Commissioner
Governor-elect Phil Murphy announced on Friday that his nominee for commissioner of the Department of Education is Lamont Repollet, the superintendent of the Asbury Park School District.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Phil Murphy Faces Challenges on Taxes, Trump, Transit When He Becomes Governor Tuesday
Phil Murphy is set to take office Tuesday, and when he does, he’ll see challenges everywhere he looks.
The Record Read more

Phil Murphy Could Revive the Power of Public Labor Unions in New Jersey
The ruling was puzzling to New Jersey’s public labor unions. Despite decades of precedent and explicit contract language to the contrary, a state labor commission declared in 2013 that public safety employees in Atlantic County weren’t entitled to step increases—pay raises when workers reach a certain number of years on the job—after their contract expired.
NJ.com Read more

Pensions, Drones, Bump Stocks: Highlights of Bills Christie Signs into Law
From sweetening the pension of a South Jersey political ally to regulating drones, Republican Gov. Chris Christie on Monday signed more than 100 bills of varying consequence into law.
The Record Read more

South Jersey Democrats Take Care of Their Own—at Our Expense
The drama over former Camden Mayor Dana Redd’s political career is a window inside the limousine that is the Democratic party under George E. Norcross III.
Inquirer Read more

Golden: Bumps in the Road Await Murphy
As Gov. Phil Murphy assumes office, increasing the tax on income over $1 million has gone from certain to iffy and support for legalization of marijuana is cooling, jeopardizing two central themes of his promise-laden campaign and placing a serious crimp in his hopes for a fast start to his administration.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Phil Murphy’s Billion-Dollar Challenge: N.J. School Funding
Murphy, who takes office Tuesday, will be the latest governor to take on what has been a challenge for states all over the country: How to pay for public education adequately and fairly.
Inquirer Read more

NJ Transit Board Meets on King Holiday, but Ducks Controversial Vote
In a surprise move, NJ Transit’s board of directors removed a controversial real-estate purchase on the Hoboken waterfront from its Monday meeting agenda.
The Record Read more

Murphy Says N.J. Will ‘Soon’ End PARCC Testing
As Phil Murphy succeeds Chris Christie as New Jersey’s governor Tuesday, there’s at least one thing students and teachers in the state’s public schools can expect: an end to controversial PARCC testing.
NJ.com Read more

Phil Murphy Reveals Where He Stands on Self-Serve Gas in N.J.
Don’t worry, Jersey. Your next governor may have grown up out of state, but he says he won’t make you pump your own gas.
NJ.com Read more

New Rules Cap Payments from Drug Makers to Doctors
On the same day Chris Christie ends his rein as the governor of New Jersey, the state welcomes new rules—crafted by his administration—that aim to put a dent in what’s considered one of the leading causes of the deadly opioid crisis.
NJ101.5 Read more

Will Murphy Continue Christie’s War on Opioid Epidemic?
Gov. Chris Christie made fighting New Jersey’s opioid abuse epidemic his top issue last year.
NJ101.5 Read more

On Christie’s Final Day, a Not-So-Fond Farewell
Monday was Chris Christie’s final day as governor of New Jersey, and even Pat Wonder is ready. For Wonder, politics are not the problem. She is a conservative Republican who likes Christie’s politics just fine.
The Record Read more

Standing Up to Chris Christie: How 4 Shore Residents Fought the Bully—and Got Results
Joe Mangino wasn’t born a rebel. He was living a quiet life raising kids and running a business when superstorm Sandy wrecked his Stafford home.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Mulshine: Grading Christie’s 8 Years in Office
In an interview with the Star-Ledger, outgoing Gov. Chris Christie rated his performance during his eight years in office as a B-plus.
NJ.com Read more

Police/Fire Salary Cap Expired—Should N.J. Taxpayers Be Worried?
Despite the end of the two percent cap on police and fire salary awards two weeks ago, the much-feared surge of arbitration filings hasn’t materialized—and might not for months.
NJ101.5 Read more

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: 50 Years after Assassination, North Jersey Leaders Reflect
Social justice. Love. Peace. African-American leaders in North Jersey say those tenets—central to the message and work of Martin Luther King Jr.—ring especially true at the start of 2018, as America confronts a political climate in nearly daily turmoil.
Daily Record Read more

Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the Era of Trump
President Donald Trump’s name was never uttered, not once, during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Red Bank.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Ocean Township Colonel to Lead N.J. National Guard and Veterans Affairs
Gov.-elect Phil Murphy announced Sunday that a colonel from Ocean Township will lead the New Jersey National Guard and the state’s Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs.
Asbury Park Press Read more

New Podcast Allows Booker to Lift Up His Voice in Advance of 2020 Election
In his book, United, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker called civil rights icon John Lewis “a living legend and a hero of mine and to many.”
NJ.com Read more

Gov. Kean Fondly Shares How He and Friend Gov. Byrne Talked Politics for 23 Years
I’d like to start out by introducing our readers to you, Fran. Most of you don’t know this, but Fran Wood has been the person behind the Byrne-Kean column for the past 23 years. Fran got us together to talk, selected the subjects, was patient when either of us was out of sorts or hard to find. Without Fran there probably would not have been a Byrne-Kean column, so I’d like to thank you on behalf of Brendan and myself.
NJ.com Read more

Christopher Columbus Statues Vandalized at Garfield Parks
Two Christopher Columbus statues in Garfield were vandalized at various parks Sunday, authorities said.
The Record Read more

Editorial: New Governor, Same Old Problems
It’s a new dawn on Tuesday, as Phil Murphy officially becomes New Jersey’s next governor—the 56th, if you’re keeping count and not worried about the interims along the way. As ideological shifts go, we could scarcely expect a more abrupt lurch in the opposite direction compared to the outgoing Gov. Chris Christie—except, perhaps, for what we’ve seen in reverse in Washington under President Trump.
Asbury Park Press Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Inauguration Day and Christie’s Last-Minute Largesse