Morning News Digest: February 20, 2009

West New York Mayor Sal Vega defends tax increase

A day after nearly a thousand people stormed a Board of Commissioners meeting to protest a proposed 27 percent municipal tax hike, Mayor Silverio "Sal" Vega defended the increase and the steps he's taking to lower taxes in the future, saying the hike was due to increased costs and years of deficit spending. "A lot of it has to do with putting things off until it gets to the point where the house of cards will not stand. And it's my responsibility as mayor to create a budget that we can stand on in the future," he said in a sit-down interview at Town Hall yesterday afternoon. (Clark, Jersey Journal)

GOP gubernatorial contenders Christie, Lonegan unveil plans for N.J. financial crisis

Republican gubernatorial candidates Chris Christie and Steve Lonegan went to the Statehouse today to unveil plans to fix the state's financial crisis. During dueling news conferences, the two leading contenders to challenge Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine laid out proposals that would, in their own ways, dramatically alter the way state government runs. (Margolin, Star-Ledger)

Key Democratic lawmakers call for furlough of legislative employees

Lending support to Gov. Jon Corzine, Democratic leaders of the state Legislature today said they would furlough legislative branch employees for two days this spring. The announcement by Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) and Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) follows Corzine's move earlier this week to have state employees take two unpaid days off to help balance the budget. (Heininger, Star-Ledger)

3 N.J. mayors among 60 to meet with President Obama

Three New Jersey mayors are among more than 60 city leaders scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama and key members of his Cabinet on Friday. The U.S. Conference of Mayors says Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer, Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage and East Orange Mayor Robert Bowser will travel to Washington for the meeting. (AP)

Jersey City Mayor Healy delivers 'good news'

One month after Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy kicked off his campaign for re-election, he used his "State of the City" speech last night to tout his accomplishments, focusing on a drop in crime, stable taxes and increased development that has brought hundreds of new jobs to Jersey City. "we have created our own economic stimulus in Jersey City by creating an investment-friendly atmosphere," Healy said. (Jersey Journal)

Legislators: Require all new state workers to live in N.J.

LACEY — State Sen. Christopher J. Connors, Assemblymen Brian E. Rumpf and Daniel M. Van Pelt, all R-Ocean, announced today they will introduce legislation to require that all newly hired state employees be New Jersey residents. The 9th District legislators said in a prepared statement that the proposal would apply to workers in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government. All members of a state authority, board, body, agency, commission, state college or university would also be required to live in state. Current state employees would not be affected under the proposal. (Asbury Park Press)

Proposed bill would require state workers to live in N.J.

All newly hired state employees would be required to live in New Jersey under legislation proposed today by three New Jersey lawmakers, according to a report in the Asbury Park Press. Although the law would not apply to current employees, it would affect new workers hired in the executive, legislative and judicial branches, the report explains, quoting this written statement by State Sen. Christopher J. Connors: "This legislation would set in motion a plan whereby a greater portion and eventually all state employees will share in the tax burden that provides for their employment.'' (Star-Ledger)

N.J. and Pa. firm reach deal on Hudson County chromium cleanup

New Jersey authorities and a Pittsburgh corporation blamed for chromium pollution throughout Hudson County reached an agreement today for cleaning up a Jersey City site within five years. PPG Industries will remediate soil and other sources of chromium contamination on 16.6 acres on Garfield Avenue — the site of a chromite ore refinement plant from 1924 to 1963 — under a partial Superior Court settlement announced by the state's attorney general and Department of Environmental Protection. The deal will not be finalized until after a 30-day public comment period. (Murray, Star-Ledger)

Christie vows stronger budget hand and auditor help, while Lonegan proposes flat tax

TRENTON – In his first major policy presse, GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie today promised rigorous use of the line-item veto to end one-shot budget gimmicks he says are funding New Jersey government and dragging the state to financial ruin. “Everything has to be on the table,” said Christie, reflecting on Democratic Party leadership in the governor's office. “There are no sacred cows in this. …You would not see $300 million in Christmas Tree items. Every one of them would be line-itemed out. The ‘Mac Account’ slush fund account that we exposed in the Wayne Bryant corruption trial – line-itemed out.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Leery of poll data, GOP legislators call for a vote on gay marriage

With an independent poll released this morning showing more New Jerseyans in favor of gay marriage than against it, three of the state’s most conservative legislators repeated their call for the issue to be put to a popular vote. “Some people try to use these polls as a replacement for the democratic process in which every citizen has an opportunity to participate,” said Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose (R-Franklin) in a press release. “A few hundred people answering a telephone solicitation is not a vote.” (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Langford trusts in faith, himself, his plans for Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY – Mayor Lorenzo Langford sits among members of his staff in the conference room adjacent to his office. It's all business in here today, like every other one of the 100 days he's been in office. But for a brief moment each Monday morning, he and his staff join in the same room for a very different reason – to pray. (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)

District plans to chop 25 jobs

WASHINGTON TWP. Enrollment at Gloucester County's largest school has been shrinking over the past few years, but the number of employees hasn't. That's why, school officials said Thursday, they plan to eliminate 25 positions from the proposed 2009-2010 budget. (Beym, Gloucester County Times)

Hoboken prepares to enter contract negotiations with police and fire unions

A criticism of last night's proposals to cut the mayor's and City Council's salaries by ten percent is that neither ordinance really addresses the main problems in Hoboken's budget: A high payroll and skyrocketing health insurance costs. So what is the city doing to cut expenses? This week, Hoboken's fiscal monitor Judy Tripodi is preparing to enter contract negotiations with the Hoboken police and fire unions. And changing municipal health care coverage is the city's first priority. (Baldwin, Jersey Journal)

Like childhood, Shea is nothing more than a memory.

THE LAST VESTIGE of Shea Stadium came down Wednesday. I watched a clip on the Internet of the Section 5 ramp buckle and fall. Newly constructed Citi Field stood undisturbed in the background. Shea Stadium is no more. (Doblin, Record)

N.J. Democratic legislative leaders support two-day furlough Ne

w Jersey's top legislative leaders joined Gov. Corzine yesterday in calling for state workers to accept a two-day furlough to help the state save money. Senate President Richard J. Codey and Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. also said they would furlough employees in the Senate and Assembly majority and minority offices. (Lu, Inquirer)

Christie talks of trims, Lonegan of taxes

Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher J. Christie would pull out his veto pen, create an independent state auditor, and take on the Legislature to pare state spending. His opponent in the June 2 primary, Steve Lonegan, would implement a flat income tax to stop the exodus of rich people from New Jersey and possibly entice some to return. (Burton, Inquirer)

North Brunswick mayor: Global economic woes hit close to home

NORTH BRUNSWICK — The township is better positioned to endure the pronounced economic downturn than most of the state's municipalities, Mayor Francis "Mac" Womack said during his annual State of the Township address Tuesday. (Khavkine, Courier News) Morning News Digest: February 20, 2009