Morning News Digest: March 10, 2009

Corzine’s draconian budget strives to protect N.J.’s schools, working poor and elderly

Gov. Jon Corzine is expected to propose a draconian state budget “with pain on every page” Tuesday, raising taxes on businesses and the wealthy, requiring wage givebacks from state worker unions, and cutting property tax rebates and aid to towns. (Heininger and Reitmeyer, Star-Ledger)

Payroll tax hike likely in July

Payroll taxes will increase, state workers must take 12 unpaid days off and forgo raises, and property tax rebates will shrink or disappear in the bad-news budget Gov. Jon S. Corzine will propose today. Corzine’s $28.5 billion budget is certain to contain deep cuts that will return spending to 2006 levels. (Delli Santi, AP)

Cherry Hill looks at school budget cuts

The school board will discuss the 2009-10 district budget and also hear a report from its Facilities Advisory Committee at its work session tonight. Both topics have been heavily affected by the economy — fueling the district to cut the projected budget rather than suggest raising the tax levy, and to hold off on a bond referendum to address aging facilities. (Rothschild, Courier-Post)

Gov to call for rebate slashes

TRENTON Faced with a deepening recession, Gov. Jon S. Corzine will unveil an election-year budget today that cuts aid to schools and municipalities while slashing property tax rebates for all but seniors and lower-income earners, lawmakers briefed on the plan said Monday. (Graber, Gloucester County Times)

Officials look to aid with growth

WOODBURY The city is studying areas of downtown for potential redevelopment as part of a formal plan to bring major developers into the area. At Monday night’s council meeting, officials introduced an ordinance establishing Phase 1 of the redevelopment project, starting at $2.5 million. The project allows city officials to first establish a need for redevelopment, and then come up with specific properties for a package geared to developers. (Paciolla, Gloucester County Times)

Choi to run off the line in June, again

Mayor Jun Choi once again plans to run against the local machine in the Democratic Primary, as the Edison Democratic Committee will back Councilwoman Toni Ricigliano for mayor in the June Primary, according to veteran Chairman Thomas Paterniti. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Jeanne Fox approved for second term as N.J. Board of Public Utilities president

At a contentious hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee today approved Jeanne Fox for a second six-year term as president of the Board of Public Utilities, clearing the path for a final Senate vote on March 16. Committee members voted along party lines, with seven Democrats supporting her nomination and four Republicans opposing her. (Megerian, Star-Ledger)

Christie focusing on Corzine

On a recent afternoon in Trenton, Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher J. Christie declined to pounce on his major primary opponent’s vulnerability. Asked to comment on Steve Lonegan’s now-resolved troubles with a state campaign-finance agency, Christie reflexively said, “No.” (Burton, Inquirer)

Corzine budget: Expect targeted hikes

Businesses, the state’s wealthiest residents, and anyone buying cigarettes, wine, or liquor could all pay higher taxes under the budget Gov. Corzine is set to present today, according to officials briefed on the plan. (Tamari and Lu, Inquirer)

N.J. Supreme Court takes its show on the road

New Jersey’s seven Supreme Court justices listen to arguments reading briefs, taking notes, and, in one case, biting nails. And they’ve been known to disagree about how the unique values of New Jersey’s people should factor into their opinions. (Katz, Inquirer)

Cumberland money snub riles local legislators

Three southern New Jersey legislators asked Gov. Jon S. Corzine to reconsider excluding Cumberland County projects from funding through the federal economic stimulus plan. Assemblymen Matt Milam and Nelson Albano and state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, all D-Cumberland, Cape May, Atlantic, called the decision “unacceptable” in a letter to Corzine on Saturday. “We need transportation projects funded here in Cumberland County, and we need them now,” the three wrote. (Walsh, Press of Atlantic City)

Did mayor try to quiet critic?

Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez filed a defamation lawsuit that cost resident Michael Mecca $103,000 to defend in order to “impose a degree of pain” on a political enemy, Mecca’s lawyer argued in court on Monday. (Van Dusen, Record)

Justices take rare trip outside Trenton to sit before students

Students lined the benches, filling the new mock courtroom at Rutgers-Camden Law School. But this was a different kind of classroom experience. The “professors” were the seven justices of the New Jersey Supreme Court, who traveled about 36 miles from their usual place of business in Trenton to hear cases at the law school. (Fuchs, Record)

Judge rejected Conigilio’s bid to dismiss indictment

NEWARK – A federal judge today rejected arguments that the government improperly expanded the definition of bribery in an indictment alleging that former state Sen. Joseph Coniglio sold his office to Hackensack University Medical Center for more than $100,000 in consulting fees. (Sampson, Record)

Ex-Assemblyman Neil Cohen to appear in court on child porn charges

Former state assemblyman Neil Cohen is expected to be arraigned this morning, three months after being indicted on charges of possessing child pornography. (Spoto, Star-Ledger)

N.J. offers new defense of embattled housing plan

Gov. Jon Corzine’s campaign pledge to get more housing built for the working class entered a new phase today, with the state agency overseeing his ambitious plan defending it against two dozen legal challenges. (Spoto, Star-Ledger)

Election fund probe targets Sharpe James, another ex-senator

A Ewing resident has asked the state Election Law Enforcement Commission to investigate whether two former state senators illegally used campaign funds to pay lawyers to defend them against corruption charges. Former Newark mayor and Sen. Sharpe James (D-Essex) and former Sen. Joseph Coniglio (D-Bergen) never asked permission before dipping into their campaign warchests to pay their legal bills. (Livio, Star-Ledger)

City Council Caucus recap: Monday, March 9

First up, Jersey City Medical Center’s Christopher Rinn, EMS director and Dr. Bill Wong, EMS medical director, gave a presentation on the emergency medical services that center provides for the city. (Clark, Jersey Journal)

Morning News Digest: March 10, 2009