Morning News Digest: June 30, 2010

Christie signs budget Governor

Chris Christie has signed the budget into law, following hours-long sessions in both houses of the legislature Monday. At a ceremony in South River, Christie put his signature to the plan that cuts $4 billion in spending but saddles school districts and municipalities with massive cuts in aid. The budget, which does not raise income taxes, is the first of Christie’s gubernatorial tenure. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)

Cancer-Free Lautenberg to take over Homeland Security Sub-Committee

Democratic U.S Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park), who announced Saturday that he was cancer-free after a bout with lymphoma, has been named chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Sub-Committee. Lautenberg’s ascension follows the death of former Chairman Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ) 

Christie orders special session for Thursday 

At the end of an all nighter, lawmakers looking for the exits found only an invitation back to their chambers. That’s because Gov. Chris Christie ordered a special joint session to convene this Thursday to address his proposed 2.5% property tax cap proposal and toolkit. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

OP-ED: Rush Holt Leads in Promoting Real Peace and Security for Israel

 Those who watch Israel have seen an interesting scenario unfold over the past few weeks. Last Sunday Israel formally announced an eased blockade of Gaza that could significantly expand the flow of goods overland into the impoverished coastal Palestinian enclave, isolated by the Israelis for the last three years. The policy shift reflects what many of that country’s supporters have been saying for some time: The blockade of Gaza as originally conceived has proven ineffective, served only to strengthen Hamas, and actually undercut Israeli security. (Sagner, PolitickerNJ) 

N.J. Gov. Christie signs $29.4B budget

 Governor Christie signed his first state budget into law Tuesday afternoon, saying the “pain” it imposes through sweeping cuts will pay off in the long run for New Jersey’s finances. “It is not by any means a moment where we feel self-satified,” the Republican governor said during a signing ceremony at a firehouse here. “This kind of success gives us the momentum to go even further, harder, faster and stronger.” (Heininger/Fleisher, The Record) 

N.J. employers to see $130 per employee increase to cover jobless benefits 

Businesses will see an average annual increase in payroll taxes of about $130-per-employee to pay for unemployment benefits after the legislature backed Governor Christie’s conditional veto of the bill. The Assembly approved the amended bill, with changes in line with the veto, in a marathon session early Tuesday, after the Senate approved the measure Monday afternoon. Christie is expected to sign it, his spokesman said. (Morley, The Record) 

Christie orders Legislature into property tax special session Thursday 

Gov. Chris Christie’s office announced this morning that the governor has ordered the Legislature to convene Thursday at 10 a.m. for a special session to consider his Cap 2.5 property tax cap proposal and the balance of his 33-bill reform package. In a letter to legislative leaders and high-ranking legislative staffers dated Monday, Christie says the special session is to focus on the cap on local property taxes, the cap on state government operational spending, the balance of his proposals to reform management at the local levels of government and at colleges and to consider any action he may take on S-29, the 2.9% property tax cap approved by the Legislature Monday and early Tuesday morning. (Symons, Gannett) 

Diane Gutierrez Scaccetti, N.J. Turnpike Authority director, retiring 

 New Jersey Turnpike Authority executive director Diane Gutierrez Scaccetti will retire at the end of August and be replaced by Veronique Hakim, who is currently a vice president with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. (Higgs, Gannett) 

Lower property tax cap approved, but special session possible 

Democratic lawmakers passed legislation Monday and early Tuesday that would lower New Jersey’s property tax cap from 4 percent to 2.9 percent a year, but the bill isn’t likely to curb Gov. Chris Christie’s push for tougher cap limits. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, meanwhile, announced that a dozen Democratic lawmakers will spend the summer studying various portions of Christie’s 33-bill “tool kit’ of property tax reforms in advance of expected votes in the fall — in essence, killing Christie’s call for a November referendum on his proposed 2.5 percent tax cap, which would require a first round of approvals next week. (Symons, Gannett) 

 Stile: Christie’s Republicans take no prisoners 

The New Jersey Republican Party doesn’t do noblesse oblige. Not anymore. In rubber-stamping Governor Christie’s $29.4 billion tough-love budget, the New Jersey Republicans collectively shed their noble reputation for moderation. It is no longer a party of William Cahill, Clifford Case, Thomas H. Kean Sr. or Christie Whitman, the paternalistic Republicans who put the poor and elderly off limits from cost-cutting. (Stile, The Record)

Ingle: Assembly doesn’t want voters to have a say

 New Jersey Assembly leadership has big contempt for voters and taxpayers and shows it every chance it gets. The latest example is trying to make sure voters don’t get a say on a property tax cap in November. Unamused, Gov. Christie has struck back. This latest political sandbox tactic was engineered by Speaker Sheila Oliver and her sidekick, Joe Cryan — who’s also a deputy sheriff and former Democratic Party chairman, where does he find the time? (Ingle, Gannett)

Morning News Digest: June 30, 2010