Wake-Up Call: Friday, June 20, 2008

With the PolitickerNJ.com Wake-Up Call e-mailed to your inbox, phone, Blackberry or PDA first thing in the morning, you can get a rundown of New Jersey's top political headlines. Sign up to get the Wake-Up Call delivered every morning.

Budget comes to screeching halt

A $32.9 billion state budget that imposes no new taxes but cuts homestead rebates and aid to towns and hospitals stalled in the Senate Budget Committee last night after it had cleared its counterpart in the Assembly.

The Assembly panel approved the spending plan by a party-line vote of 7-4, with all of the Republicans voting against it. It recessed about 7:30 p.m. and is scheduled to reconvene this afternoon. (Robert Schwaneberg and Joe Donohue, The Star-Ledger)


Educators fed up with state legislature

The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) will conduct mass demonstrations on Friday at the offices of thirty State Senators to protest legislation they say targets teacher and school employee pensions. NJEA officials say that thousands of union members will participate. (PolitickerNJ)


First, fix the economy

After reaching a compromise between environmentalists and builders, Senate and Assembly committees yesterday approved legislation intended to spark commercial and housing construction once the economy improves.

The approvals by the Senate Economic Growth and Assembly Budget panels clear the way for votes by the full upper and lower houses on Monday. (Tom Hester, The Star-Ledger)


No bids, no secrets

Lawmakers would have to disclose any personal and family income from no-bid public contracts, according to a bill introduced Thursday by four Democratic and Republican senators. (Elise Young, The Bergen Record)


Health care coverage for all?

New Jersey took another step toward providing universal health care as both the Senate and Assembly budget committees approved a bill yesterday that mandates all children have coverage and permits 20,000 middle-class parents to participate in a low-cost state program.

The cornerstone of the plan is the expansion of FamilyCare, which already provides some 200,000 children and working-poor parents with HMO-style health care. The budget that is expected to go into effect July 1 includes $8.9 million for this effort. (The Star-Ledger)


As if gas prices weren't high enough

WEST ORANGE — As gas prices continue to set records in the Garden State, state officials have ticketed 350 gas station owners for ripping off motorists.

State weights and measures inspectors discovered pricing discrepancies, inaccurate octane ratings and equipment that was improperly calibrated during a recent three-day sweep of 1,023 gas stations in all 21 counties, according to state Attorney General Anne Milgram. (Associated Press)


Board member found guilty of extortion

A former Union City zoning board member pleaded guilty yesterday to extorting $20,000 in bribes from a construction contractor in a case that may involve at least one other public official, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

John Medina, 38, of North Bergen, told a U.S. District judge in Trenton that in 2005, he arranged to take the payments, in installments, from a contractor who had trouble getting permit renewals for the construction of a six-story building on Summit Avenue in Union City. (Brian T. Murray, The Star-Ledger)


Corzine pushes for school funding

As New Jersey lawmaker struggle to resolve differences over key spending bills, Gov. Jon S. Corzine is forcefully pushing borrowing billions without voter approval for new school construction. (Tom Hester Jr, Associated Press)


This land is my land

A Senate panel has advanced long-awaited legislation meant to stop eminent domain abuses.

The bill, discussed for two years, aims to protect homeowners from developers seeking to take land for private redevelopment. (Associated Press)


Age begs political questions

Virginia Lippincott, at 83, is thinking about throwing her hat into the ring. She's eyeing the office of president.

President of the Liberty Royal Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Tinton Falls, that is. (Michael Riley, Ashbury Park Press)


$3 million lost in a puff of smoke

New Jersey is looking to crack down on counterfeit cigarettes.

A bill released Thursday by Assembly and Senate committees requires distributors to affix encrypted stamps on cigarette packs before they're sold.

In a 2007 case, New Jersey retailers were charged with selling 30 million counterfeit cigarettes, costing the state $3 million in tax money. (Associated Press)


Millville spurs economic growth

MILLVILLE — The city is looking to partner with the state in order to increase homeownership opportunities throughout the city.

Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday night executing a memorandum of understanding between the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and the city to promote the Live Where You Work program and increase homeownership opportunities in the area. (Jaime Marine, Bridgeton News)


Art center disputed in Paterson

PATERSON — The City Council will decide on Monday whether to uphold the Board of Adjustment's decision to allow a developer to create a performing arts center at the former Temple Emanuel, the imposing 2 1/2-story structure at the intersection of Broadway and East 33rd Street. (Denisa R. Superville, The Herald News)


Clearing out asbestos

Tyran Mincey was concerned when his daughter Safari, an eighth-grader at Montclair's Renaissance School, needed an inhaler to clear her lungs.

Even if symptoms from asbestos exposure often don't show up for years, he said, it was the first time his daughter had to take the medication, and it followed closely the discovery of high levels of airborne asbestos at the school. (Philip Read, The Star-Ledger)


With the PolitickerNJ.com Wake-Up Call e-mailed to your inbox, phone, Blackberry or PDA first thing in the morning, you can get a rundown of New Jersey's top political headlines. Sign up to get the Wake-Up Call delivered every morning. Wake-Up Call: Friday, June 20, 2008