Morning News Digest: June 23, 2010

Senate commitee to take up budget discussion Wednesday

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will meet Wednesday and Thursday to wrap up final discussion on the 2011 budget and the assembly budget committee will consider the measure Thursday and Friday. The announcements came hours after a deal was reached between Democratic legislative leaders and Gov. Chris Christie over the $29.4 billion plan that will restore some $180 million in cuts from the budget the governor introduced in March. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)

To the naysayers in his own party, Lesniak says it was either work with Christie or shut down government

There’s nothing in the sliver of restorations secured in last night’s budget deal that thrills state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth). “I’ve made it clear from the beginning that a budget which doesn’t have enough revenue because we won’t tax the millionaires is a budget I won’t support,” Lesniak told He also said he is baffled by Gov. Chris Christie’s refusal to restore $7.6 million in family planning funding. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Greenstein, other women Dem lawmakers, spearhead restoration of family planning funds 

Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and other women legislators on Tuesday announced their plans to introduce a supplemental budget bill demanding $7.5 million in funding for family planning programs slashed out of the state budget by Gov. Chris Christie. “The health needs of poor and working-class families – especially women, mothers and newborns – cannot simply be written off to balance the state’s books,” said Greenstein. “We have a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us and ensure they receive the care they need to live healthy, productive lives.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

 N.J. Senate to hold hearing on budget

State Senate lawmakers plan to hold a hearing Wednesday on the 2011 state budget, two days after a deal was reached Monday on Governor Christie’s $29.4 billion budget. Christie’s budget remained largely unchanged, including $820 million in cuts to local school districts and $848 million in reduced property tax rebates. About $180.7 million in changes — less than one percent of the total budget — were agreed to on Monday, including restorations of Bergen County’s “blue laws,” which close retail stores on Sundays, and funding for programs for the blind, disabled and elderly. (Fleisher, The Record) 

Bloomberg, Booker to receive Jefferson Awards 

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Newark , N.J., Mayor Cory Booker will share a national prize for public service, along with a notable health researcher. Bloomberg, Booker and 13 others are being honored with Jefferson Awards Tuesday night in Washington. (AP) 

Authority looks to start Bayonne Bridge upgrades

 Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials announced they are fast-tracking a review of environmental issues to help speed modification or replacement of the Bayonne Bridge to accommodate the latest generation of super container ships, which could move to other ports if the span isn’t modified. On Tuesday, Port Authority staff issued a request for proposal seeking nationally known consulting teams to provide technical information on environmental and regulatory issues related to the bridge project. (Higgs, AP) 

Senator: School choice bill should let lawmakers opt out

 A proposed law aimed at promoting school choice needs a legislator choice provision in order to pass the state Legislature, a key sponsor said Tuesday. Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, said his bill that would provide scholarships to low-income students in poor-performing school districts — so that they can attend schools in better performing districts — is likely to be altered so that scholarships would be awarded only in areas represented by legislators who support the measure. (Method, Gannett) 

Ingle: Web site shows who’s really for limiting tax

People who want reform and mayors of towns in need of tools to keep property taxes down are supporting Gov. Christie 2.5 percent constitution-based cap on annual property tax growth. Democratic lawmakers have created competitive plans with big loopholes so the public employee unions that give them campaign contributions can continue to get the goodies off the backs of the taxpayers. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who the good guys are. (Ingle, Gannett) 

Stile: Lawmaker knows bet on budget is a gamble 

Republican Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk never had to worry much about voter backlash in her northeast Bergen County district, a Republican stronghold for decades. But the 10-term veteran from Hillsdale is backing Governor Christie’s aggressive budget-cutting bet on reviving the economy and the Republican Party’s fortunes. And now she is taking precautions that reveal an anxious current pulsing beneath her placid, disarming demeanor. (Stile, The Record) Morning News Digest: June 23, 2010