Morning News Digest: May 24, 2010

Thousands rally in Trenton against Christie cuts

A band of teachers, firefighters, nurses, cops, workers, union card holders, urban guerillas, and assorted progressives rallied at the Statehouse this afternoon, demanding that Gov. Chris Christie restore the so-called millionaires’ tax on those making above $400,000 to pay for social programs and strengthen the state’s safety net in a static economy. Two days after Christie with one stroke of his pen smothered a millionaires’ tax bill passed moments earlier in the legislature, a meshing together of public and private sector unions signified by the prominent stage presence of AFL-CIO leader Charles Wowkanech, claimed to hit the 30,000 attendance mark, making this rally the biggest show of West State Street power in Trenton history. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Christie kills millionaires’ tax bill

Gov. Chris Christie blew out of his inner office with a pen in his hand to meet the forward advance of state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and an onrush of Statehouse reporters. Sweeney handed over the millionaires’ tax bill that moments earlier passed by a 23-17 party line vote in the senate. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Hudson County operational: Christie and (most) everyone else play in Stack Country

Gov. Chris Christie needs four Democrat votes to pass his budget and the question is where will he get them. Democratic lawmakers nursing a 23-17 upper house edge are starting to look at their seat mates and wonder who’s going to crumble. “Jeff Van Drew votes like a Republican anyway so why doesn’t he become a Republican?” grumbles a Trenton insider, arching an eyebrow in the direction of the Cape May senator. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Former Senator John Scott dies

 John P. Scott, a conservative Republican who served two terms as a State Senator in the 1990’s, died on Friday. He had suffered a stroke last week.

Scott was 76.

A former political consultant and activist, Scott won an upset victory in 1991, defeating Democratic State Sen. Gabriel Ambrosio for the District 36 State Senate seat. Helped by voter anger at the Democratic governor, Jim Florio, Republicans won veto-proff majorities in the Senate and Assembly that year. (Editor, PolitickerNJ) 

Record crowds flood Trenton to protest against N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, budget cuts

 Fury over Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed budget cuts echoed outside the Statehouse today as record crowds flooded the capital to protest the rookie Republican — and warn Democrats against backing his agenda. The protesters — most from public worker unions and progressive groups — numbered 30,000 to 35,000, according to the State Police. They clutched signs labeling Christie a “loser” and calling for his ouster. They started chants: “They say cut back, we say fight back!” and “We are not the problem!” They even mocked the governor’s affection for working-class hero Bruce Springsteen. (Heininger/Friedman, The Record) 

State lawyers association honors ousted NJ Supreme Court Justice 

Ousted New Jersey Supreme Court Justice John Wallace Jr. this morning broke more than two weeks of silence to thank a room full of lawyers and judges for their support. “You’ve made these last two weeks bearable, ” Justice Wallace said amid three standing ovations he received at the state bar association’s annual convention at the Borgata Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. (Ackermann, The Record) 

Will Tea Party tilt the primaries?

 New Jersey’s Tea Party movement soon will have its chance to truly announce its presence in the state’s political landscape. The primary election June 8 offers the Tea Parties — peopled mostly by energized conservatives and others fed up with government — the opportunity to translate their websites and slogans into actual votes. (Baldwin, Gannett) 

Mayoral candidates differ in approach to businesses in New Providence 

Both mayoral candidates want to bring businesses back to New Providence – but they each have a different approach. Former Mayor Allen Morgan and Councilman J. Brooke Hern, both Republicans, are seeking the open four-year term in the June 8 primary election. Republican Mayor John Thoms has decided not to run. Republican Borough Council candidates Robert Munoz and Michael M. Gennaro and Democrat council candidate Laine Maurer are running unopposed in the primary for the two open three-year seats on the council. (Richardson, Gannett)

 New environmental group to give pols their ‘green card’ 

A group of environmental advocates from around New Jersey, including Hackensack Riverkeeper Capt. Bill Sheehan, assembled May 12 at the Statehouse in Trenton to announce the formation of a new group designed to promote a pro-environment policy agenda and keep an eye on legislators’ votes. The nascent New Jersey League of Conservation Voters (NJLCV) is designed to be a non-partisan, non-profit organization that hopes to steer policymakers and the public in the direction of vigilant environmental protection. (Bonamo, Hackensack Chronicle) 

Christie veto stirs up fury 

Thousands rallied at the Statehouse Saturday afternoon to send this message to lawmakers: Override Gov. Christie’s veto of the “millionaire’s tax” or we’ll vote you out of office. But they saved most of their wrath for the governor himself. State police estimated that up to 35,000 people turned out for the rally, converging on West State Street and waving signs that demanded the elimination of Christie’s proposed budget cuts and a surtax on New Jersey’s wealthiest residents. (Rao, Inquirer) 

Bill to cut jobless tax headed to Christie

 A bill to reduce an unemployment-insurance tax increase set to kick in for employers July 1 received final legislative approval Thursday. The bill, sponsored by Democrats, now heads to Gov. Christie, but it is unclear whether the governor will sign it. In February, Christie, a Republican, proposed an alternative plan that also would have reduced the unemployment-insurance tax increase. (Lu, Inquirer)

 Stile: Democratic leaders are no-shows at unions’ Christie bashing 

The 35,000 people swarming West State Street for Saturday’s Public Worker-palooza rally represented a core Democratic constituency — teachers, social workers and janitors. The only thing missing was Democratic leaders. Actually, that’s not entirely correct. Four Democratic legislators did show — Rep. Frank Pallone from Monmouth County and three state legislators from Mercer County, who show up at public worker events on auto pilot as their district is home to nearly 30,000 state workers. (Stile, The Record) 

Stile: Christie muddies Democrats’ tax strategy 

A week ago, the New Jersey Democrats premiered their own version of “Robin Hood” – a plan to take from the rich to protect low-income seniors and the disabled. But Governor Christie demonstrated Wednesday that he was not going to be easily typecast as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Christie sent the Democrats’ class-warfare script back to rewrite. (Stile, The Record) 

Ingle: Don’t mess with SCI, leave it independent 

Most of Gov. Christie’s recommendations for government reform make sense and can be defended easily. Not so his plan to cut back on the State Commission of Investigation and roll it into the State Comptroller’s Office. That’s a loser. Many times you’ve read the SCI is one state agency that earns its keep. (Ingle, Gannett) Morning News Digest: May 24, 2010