Morning News Digest: April 15, 2010

Christie wants teachers union official fired for memo

 In his first meeting with the head of the powerful state teachers union, Gov. Christie on Monday called for the firing of a Bergen County union leader who sent a memo joking about the governor’s death. Barbara Keshishian, president of the New Jersey Education Association, had sought a meeting with the governor to issue a personal apology for a letter signed by Joseph Coppola, head of the Bergen County teachers union, according to NJEA spokesman Steve Baker. (Lu, Inquirer)

Democrats can give in to Christie and still win

Newly emboldened Democrats are already plotting their endgame strategies for an all-but-certain budget showdown with Governor Christie. (Stile, The Record)

Sipprelle raises $588k for challenge to Holt

Republican congressional candidate Scott Sipprelle has raised $588,893 for his challenge to six-term incumbent Rush Holt (D-Hopewell) and has $451,604 cash-on-hand. The Princeton businessman has put $420,000 of his own money into the race.

”In past campaigns, Mr. Holt was able to use the power of incumbency to his advantage and engage underfunded opponents only on his own terms,” said Sipprelle. (Editor, PolitickerNJ)

BPU nod to developer prompts Pringle criticism of Christie

This one was headed for a break up, according to other environmentalists, and it came today apparently when the state Board of Public Utilities’ decided to permit Atlantic Electric to sell open space in Millville to a developer over an offer by Green Acres. The announcement prompted N.J. Environmental Federation Campaign Director David Pringle to chastise Gov. Chris Christie, whom Pringle’s group endorsed last year in what to Jon Corzine’s allies represented a heart-breaking diss. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Lance has almost $474k on hand

Having raised nearly $189,000 this last quarter, U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Lebanon) has $473,800 on-hand, according to sourcs close to the Congressman’s re-election campaign. The freshman congresman over the past few weeks had no trouble securing the GOP line in each of the portions of four counties that compise his 7th District. On Monday, three Republicans – Lons Hosford and David Larsen, both of Hunterdon County; and Bruce Baker of Union County – filed to run against Lance in the Republican Primary. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Christie trying to balance state budge with local urban enterprise zone funding needs 

The Christie administration is trying to figure out how to keep urban enterprise zones chugging along while saving money by yanking the program’s funding, a cabinet official said Wednesday. Governor Christie’s $29.3 billion recessionary budget cuts off $91.7 million in funding for the zones, which give tax breaks to businesses and consumers within 37 municipalities and funnel money to projects. (Fleisher/Haydon, The Record) 

NJ Transit OKs 25 percent fare hike 

Commuters took it on the chin after NJ Transit’s board approved a fare increase proposal this morning which hikes rail and commuter bus fares 25 percent, eliminates off-peak discounts, but spares the most vulnerable riders — the poor and disabled — from the same level of increases and some service cuts. Local bus and light rail fares will increase by 10 percent from $1.35 to $1.50 under a revised fare increase package introduced Monday and some bus routes were spared, including routes to community colleges in Monmouth and Morris counties and some commuter routes after 5,000 people commented about the plan at hearings and by e-mail. (Higgs, Gannett) 

Legislators look to get their part-timers off pension rolls 

A pension law signed by Gov. Christie last month barred future part-time employees from the state pension system. Among those remaining in the system, unaffected by the measure, are the lawyers who work part-time for the legislative leadership. But in recent interviews, Senate officials said that could be changing. (Rao, Inquirer) 

Democrats attack Christie’s spending plan for schools 

Democratic legislators attacked Gov. Christie’s spending plan for schools Tuesday, arguing, in a reversal of roles, that the proposal would hurt middle-class suburban school districts. “If this budget is passed, it will completely dismantle the school funding formula,” said Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D., Middlesex) during a meeting of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on the Department of Education. “There’s not even a pretense that you’re just tinkering with it. This is a complete dismantling.” (Lu, Inquirer) 

Ingle: Christie – NJEA spent $1.8 million attacking him 

Gov. Christie says school districts in which teachers don’t take a pay freeze should get their school budgets defeated. He said contrary to reports, Educational Commissioner Bret Schundler did not disagree with him. He said Schundler only said he would look at other elements. The governor said that’s okay by him since he didn’t hire a lot of “yes men.” (Ingle, Gannett) 

Ingle: Fire Hill, already

 Assemblyman David Rible says it’s time Rutgers got with the real world. He is referring to reports the university reportedly offered basketball Coach Fred Hill a $600,000 settlement, which he rejected. Reportedly, the university gave Hill a list of contract violations. “I don’t know what planet Rutgers has been on, but we have a severe budget crisis that affects every public agency in New Jersey. It is incredible that university officials would have taxpayers pay $600,000 to a basketball coach they believe should be fired. (Ingle, Gannett) Morning News Digest: April 15, 2010