Morning News Digest: February 27, 2009

Corzine asks Supreme Court not to revisit ruling on Carla Katz e-mails

The state Supreme Court should not decide whether e-mails exchanged by Gov. Jon Corzine and former state workers union leader Carla Katz should be released to the public, lawyers for Corzine said today. (Heininger, Star-Ledger)

New Jersey preserves property tax rebates for senior citizens

New Jersey's property tax rebates for senior citizens will be preserved this year, but other rebates are at risk in the wake of budget shortfalls, top state lawmakers said today. In a meeting with the Legislature's top Democrats, Gov. Jon Corzine laid out a bleak set of choices to balance the budget he will propose March 10, including curtailing the rebates and even increasing taxes, Senate President Richard Codey and Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts said. (Heininger, Star-Ledger)

Total ban on casino smoking has life in legislature

TRENTON – State lawmakers will discuss a bill next week that would close the loophole that allows smoking on casino floors and simulcasting facilities. The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Com-mittee will take testimony on the bill at its session here, scheduled for 1 p.m. March 2 in Committee Room 1 in the State House complex. Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Vitale said no vote was scheduled and that the committee wants to hear what opponents of a smoking ban have to say. (Harper, Press of Atlantic City)

Christie: reappointment of Investment Council members shows lack of accountability

Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie said today that Gov. Jon Corzine's reappointment of three members of the State Investment Council, which has presided over a multi-billion loss in state pension funds, is "another example of a failure of accountability in this state government." (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

N.J. may replace specialty license plates

A bill moving through New Jersey's legislature would scrap specialty license plates and replace them with decals affixed to a generic plate. Currently, specialty plates with a university logo or other symbols must be approved by the legislature and governor before going to the state's Motor Vehicle Commission for final approval. (AP)

Senate committee approves bill to spur loans to small businesses, individuals

A measure to spur lending to small businesses and individuals by investing state funds in community banks was approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. (Larini, Star-Ledger)

Cresitello kicks off reelection campaign

MORRISTOWN – Running on a platform of continuing Morristown's forward progress, Mayor Donald Cresitello announced his reelection bid here tonight at the downtown Hyatt Hotel in front of a crowd of about 100 supporters. “I make things happen,” said the 63-year old Cresitello, who’s had a career in public life spanning 37 years, and who plans to make experience the issue as he attempts to stare down Democratic Party Primary challenger Tim Dougherty, a 50-year old zoning board chairman and former councilman. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie outlines his economic plan

Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie outlined his plan for economic growth today in the Statehouse, promising to cut taxes and fees while playing a hands-on role in attracting new businesses. (Megerian, Star-Ledger)

GOP candidate confirms investigation into campaign money

A Republican candidate for New Jersey governor acknowledged today that election officials are trying to determine whether he was entitled to receive public money for his campaign. Steve Lonegan said he handed over W-2s and voluntarily answered questions about his role as state director of Americans for Prosperity New Jersey after a story by The Associated Press this month raised questions about whether he is entitled to receive more than $550,000 in public matching funds for the campaign. (AP)

Love will not seek 4th position

Assemblywoman Sandra Love announced Thursday that she will not seek re-election this year because health issues could keep her from handling what she expects to be a "rigorous" campaign. (McCarthy, Gloucester County Times)

State officials may cut rebates

TRENTON Property tax rebates could disappear this year for residents around the state. The $1.7 billion program is among those the governor and lawmakers are considering scaling back to close a projected $6 to $7 billion budget gap in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. (Graber, Gloucester County Times)

Officials want rail service extended

While design and engineering work to extend commuter train service to Andover continues, congressmen from Pennsylvania have asked that state's governor for his support to extend rail service all the way to Scranton. In a letter released Wednesday, U.S. Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey, along with Representatives Paul Kanjorski and Chris Carney asked Gov. Ed Rendell to form a Tri-State Authority with New York and New Jersey to oversee the rail route, which would include what is known as the Lackawanna Cutoff in New Jersey. (Scruton, NJ Herald)

Roberts: "Most dire" budget of his career

Lawmakers today continued to point to some ugly choices when Gov. Corzine unveils his budget March 10, including the likelihood of cuts to property tax rebates and even opened the door to the possibility of tax increases. "This may be the most dire budget situation that I have seen in all my years in the Legislature," Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. (D., Camden) said after a late morning meeting with Gov. Corzine and other legislative leaders. "There are bad choices and there are worse choices." (Inquirer)

NJ Supremes to hear immigrant case

The New Jersey Supreme Court said it will hear a Morris County prosecutor’s case that could change the way bail is set for illegal immigrants facing criminal charges in the state. Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi on Thursday released a copy of the agreement by the state’s top court to hear his arguments that bail can be increased for illegal immigrants in local custody who also have federal immigration detainers placed on them. (Bautista, Record)

AC's fate a hot topic at congress

The downturn in the economy has fewer people gambling with their money in Atlantic City casinos. (Brennan, Record)

Rutgers University salaries up 7%

Rutgers University salaries rose 7 percent to more than $731 million last year, according to the state university’s payroll data. The payroll list can be searched at, the Asbury Park Press’s public records site. (Asbury Park Press) Morning News Digest: February 27, 2009