Morning News Digest: July 2, 2010

Christie offers compromise; supports 2.5% statutory cap

Gov. Chris Christie today offered his version of a compromise on his proposed cap on property tax hikes, telling members of both houses he would accept a statutory cap rather than the constitutionally imposed cap he favors. But Christie stressed that any taxcap he signs must have few exceptions and must only be overridden by a vote of the people. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Lesniak: Christie ‘flying high’… for now Veteran state

Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) remembers telling a tentative Jim McGreevey that if he didn’t challenge Gov. Christie Whitman, his chances of winning were zero. Now Lesniak again finds younger politicians seeking his counsel, this time under the formidable GOP shadow of Gov. Chris Christie. The Union County power broker hears borderline despair in the voices of those who consider building cred to challenge the governor in 2013. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Payne succeeds Crump as Newark’s Council President At-Large 

Councilman Donald Payne, Jr. received the majority backing of his peers this afternoon to succeed Councilwoman Mildred Crump as president of the Newark City Coucil. Councilman Anibal Ramos received enough votes to become vice president of the council. Crump campaigned to keep her job, holding a well-attended rally as late as Tuesday night. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

 From the Back Room… 

 Feel the Love As state senator and former Gov. Dick Codey readied to enter the assembly chamber for an address from Gov. Chris Christie, he spared a second to throw a jab at Geroge Zoffinger. Zoffinger is of course the former Sports and Exposition Authority President who compared Christie to Sponge Bob Square Pants in an Op-Ed posted in The Record Sunday. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ) 

Tired of pummeling, Dems run under the radar 

 Fearful of being outmanuevered by Gov. Chris Christie, Democratic leaders told the heads of commitees to keep their mouths shut on strategy this afternoon. What about gutchecking with aides? No, not even aides. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ) 

Booker’s South Ward migraine 

Newly sworn into office, South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka upstaged Mayor Cory Booker at the Newark Inaugural this afternoon with a flamethrower speech. Baraka dumped Booker’s South Ward ally in the May election, and made the mayor feel the pain again in the stately setting of the Performing Arts Center. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ) 

Gov. Chris Christie expected to scold Legislature today in special session on property tax reform 

Gov. Chris Christie is planning to scold the Democrat-controlled Legislature today in a special session he ordered for work on property tax reform. While Democrats derided the session as a political stunt, Christie was preparing to tell lawmakers their job is “only half done” after passing the budget this week. The governor will make his case on the hotly contested issue during two televised speeches at the Statehouse. (Margolin, The Record)

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie calls on Dems in special session to put tax cap on November ballot 

Governor Christie opened a special legislative session this afternoon with a brief speech calling on Democrats to bring skyrocketing property taxes under control either through a constitutional amendment limiting tax hikes or a statutory cap that would do roughly the same thing.
Christie, a Republican, said he was offering a compromise to the Democrat-controlled Legislature in order to make the state more affordable. (Margolin, The Record) 

Dems say a one-day special session is enough

 The Democratic leadership of the state Legislature challenged an order from Governor Christie to convene Friday, saying one day of a rare special session is enough. The Legislature met on Christie’s orders Thursday, hearing a short speech from the Republican governor in which he offered a compromise on a plan to tighten an annual cap on local property taxes. (The Record) 

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver comments on Christie’s proposed compromise 

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) said parts of Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed compromise to lower the property tax cap are “music to the ears” of Democrats, but said the Assembly would work on its own time frame – not Christie’s. “The governor has made it clear he does not like our approach, but whether the governor agrees or not, this will be an extensive effort that we plan to undertake over the summer,” said Oliver from her Assembly office immediately following Christie’s speech. (Friedman, The Record) 

Women legislators urge N.J. Gov. Chris Christie to restore funding for clinics that provide birth control 

Women legislators continued pummeling Gov. Chris Christie today for pulling the money supporting clinics that provide birth control and health screenings, by urging him to sign into law a bill restoring the $7.5 million fund. The 58 family planning clinics lost their share of the state grant starting today, the first day of the new fiscal year. And for every state dollar spent, the federal government provided $9 of aid. (Livio, The Record) 

New Jersey School Boards Association says tax cap should exclude special education fees 

 The New Jersey School Boards Association said Thursday that the proposed 2.5 percent cap on tax levy increases should exclude high, unpredictable fees for special education. The group noted that when a student with severe special needs moves into a community, the district has little control over the expenses but faces a legal requirement to provide services, which can cost $100,000 for a child who needs a residential placement. (Brody, The Record) 

Possible Xanadu developments may have led to state report’s delay

 A report on the future of state-run gambling and entertainment that was due on Governor Christie’s desk Wednesday has been delayed up to a month. Jon F. Hanson, the chairman of a seven-member panel that has spent five months working on the report, said that the Governor’s Office was notified of the need to extend the deadline for the report until Aug. 1. (Brennan, The Record) 

Gov. Chris Christie: The governor with a devoted base, disdainful critics 

Gov. Christie has taken more than Trenton by storm. National conservative voices fawn over him. National media outlets have noted Christie’s budget-balancing tactics and no-holds-barred battles with labor unions to the point that Newsweek last week asked if he’s America’s best governor. Alternatively, the same blog asked: Could he be the worst? (Symons, Gannett) 

Gov. Christie offers lawmakers compromise on property tax cap 

 Gov. Chris Christie told a special session of the state Legislature today that they should approve a 2.5 percent cap on property tax increases, but he backed off his call for it to be done as an amendment to the state constitution. It remained unclear whether the Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, will work through the Independence Day holiday weekend at the insistence of the Republican governor. Without the need to put a constitutional question on the November ballot, legislators will not need to rush to meet a July 6 deadline. (Method/Symons, Gannett) 

Property tax debate intensifies as special session begins 

Lawmakers convene at the Statehouse today to begin a special session called by Gov. Chris Christie regarding his property tax plan, centered on a 2.5 percent a year limit on property tax increases. Democratic lawmakers plan to review Christie’s plan over the next few months, blowing past a July 6 deadline the governor has set in his effort to put his Cap 2.5 plan before voters this November. That debate will apparently begin this afternoon on the Senate floor. They’ve also sent to Christie a 2.9 percent property tax cap that differs from his plan in multiple ways. (Symons, Gannett)

 Ingle: Christie 2.9 is dead 

Saying “Chris from Mendham” was on the line, Gov. Christie called into The Jersey Guys show today on 101.5 FM radio about two hours after he addressed a joint session of the Legislature. He told Ray Rossi — Casey Bartholomew is on vacation – he gave the lawmakers an alternative to his constitutional amendment for a 2.5 cap on property taxes and if they couldn’t come to agreement they can stay in Trenton a while. (Ingle, Gannett)

Morning News Digest: July 2, 2010