Morning News Digest: February 23, 2011

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Christie introduces budget

The governor introduced a $29.4 billion budget this afternoon in what the administration has dubbed the “new normal” of state budgeting.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



The 13-vote gamble: How a majority-crafted budget could force a line-item showdown and avoid a government shutdown

The deck is being shuffled on legislative districts, but until the re-deal in November, Gov. Chris Christie has to play the hand he’s been dealt: a minority in both houses.

A year ago, that meant lining up 12 cross-aisle votes for the budget by June 30 – four in the Senate and eight in the Assembly.  (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)



Christie declares ‘new normal’ in budget proposal

A pugnacious and boastful Gov. Chris Christie proposed a no-growth budget for New Jersey on Tuesday, saying he had inspired a legion of copycat governors from Albany to Sacramento and was not about to let up in his efforts to shift money from public workers to property-tax payers and businesses that create jobs.  (Halbfinger, The New York Times)



Reaction to Christie’s budget address

Here are some reactions from lawmakers and others to Gov. Chris Christie’s budget address. More will be added as they come in.  (Schoonejongen, Asbury Park Press)



Christie tells towns to limit taxes

Gov. Chris Christie says it is up to the towns to keep their local taxes down and that he is doing his part to help.  (Jordan, Courier-Post)



Christie holds property-tax relief hostage to union givebacks in budget

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is holding homeowner tax credits hostage until he gets state unions and their legislative allies to agree to give up some benefits as part of his $29.4 billion budget for fiscal 2012.  (Dopp, Bloomberg)



Christie’s budget surprised: More aid to schools

Education was the last big section of Gov. Chris Christie’s budget address yesterday, and in some ways, the one with the most surprises.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



NJEA president relieved school aid on plus side

There was a time when a budget promise from a New Jersey governor to increase aid to regular public school districts by a relatively small amount — $219 million, or about $160 per student — would have drawn the scorn of the school community.  (Jordan, Asbury Park Press)|head



N.J. education officials continue to worry despite Christie’s proposed increase of school aid

Something is better than nothing.

That was the reaction in many New Jersey school districts Tuesday to Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed $249.3 million increase of state school aid, one year after the governor slashed spending for schools by $820 million.  (Rundquist and Heyboer, The Star-Ledger)



Christie budget to cut $540M from Medicaid funds, transfer patients into managed care

Calling Medicaid spending “out of control,” Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday proposed cutting $540 million from the massive health insurance program for the poor, though he did not say from where more than half the cuts would come.  (Livio, The Star-Ledger)



Christie challenges Democrats on making N.J. workers pay more for health benefits

Gov. Chris Christie’s message to Democrats today was clear: Make state workers pay more for health benefits or be the reason thousands of residents don’t get more property tax relief.  (Gibson and Friedman, The Star-Ledger)



N.J. businesses praise Christie’s proposal for $690M in tax cuts

New Jersey business advocacy groups cheered Gov. Chris Christie’s state budget Tuesday, expressing satisfaction with his strategy for creating “a better environment to start and grow a business.”  (Kwoh and Rizzo, The Star-Ledger)



No increases for bus, rail fares in Christie’s budget

NJ Transit riders got some good news from Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed state budget: no fare increase.  (Higgs, Asbury Park Press)



Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed state budget “devastating” for Urban Enterprise Zone projects

Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed state budget will again use Urban Enterprise Zone sales tax money to balance the fiscal plan instead of returning the money to the UEZs for business investment.  (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)



Christie: Wis. a class clash

Chris Christie invoked Wisconsin’s massive union-rights clash in his second annual budget address Tuesday, saying the protests are over a system with “two classes of citizens” — the people who get benefits, and the taxpayers who pay for them.  (Haberman, Politico)



Runyan back on familiar turf

A year after he publicly kicked off his foray into politics, Jon Runyan Tuesday returned to Camden County as the U.S. representative for the 3rd Congressional District.  (Roh, Courier-Post)



Newark making room for more charter schools

A 39-page “Strictly Confidential Draft Work Product” proposal, obtained by The Newark Star-Ledger, reveals that many Newark schools may undergo major changes by early September. The draft and transition follows the January resignation of former Superintendent Clifford Janey.  (Harris-Zlotnick. New Jersey Newsroom)



Christie signs free fishing registry bill

New Jersey anglers won’t have to plunk down $15 to go fishing in coastal waters after all.  (Bates and Moore, Asbury Park Press)



Christie doesn’t sign transit village bill

Gov. Chris Christie has declined to sign a bill meant to spur development of a massive “transit village” near PATCO’s Ferry Avenue station in Camden.  (Staff, Courier-Post)



Christie vetoes bill for vet-owned firms

A bill that would have set aside 3 percent of all state contracts for veteran-owned businesses was conditionally vetoed Tuesday by Gov. Chris Christie.  (Staff, Courier-Post)



NJ appeals court upholds Kyleigh’s Law

A state appeals court Tuesday upheld the constitutionality of Kyleigh’s Law, which requires new drivers under the age of 21 to display special decals on the license plates of their vehicles.  (Wright, Daily Record)



New Jersey’s taxpayers can use state income tax forms to donate money to food banks

New Jersey taxpayers can, for the first time, use their state income tax forms to donate money to food banks increasingly in need of more funds.  (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)



Alternative plans developed for Hudson River rail tunnel

A group of rail advocates who were involved with NJ Transit’s canceled Hudson River tunnel project are pitching a scaled-down version of Amtrak’s proposed replacement Gateway Tunnel that would build the necessary tunnels and tracks first, rather than a more comprehensive plan that could make the project too expensive once again.  (Higgs, Asbury Park Press)|head



Cumberland County Freeholder Sam Fiocchi to vie for state assembly candidacy

Cumberland County Freeholder Sam Fiocchi, who was elected to the county board in November of last year, has thrown his hat into the ring of prospective Republican candidates for one of the two state assembly seats representing the New Jersey’s first district.  (Laday, The News of Cumberland County)



Improving municipal websites crucial according to poll

New Jerseyans are letting their fingers do the walking over computer keyboards to gain access to information about their hometowns.  (Clurfeld, Daily Record)



State budget clashes spread to Indiana, Ohio

The offensive by Republican governors to tackle the power of public employee unions sparked new clashes Tuesday as protesters descended on Ohio’s capitol and Democratic lawmakers in Indiana fled the state to avoid a vote on anti-union legislation.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ratcheted up the pressure on state employees by linking relief from property taxes to sharp increases in what government workers pay for health insurance.  (Fletcher and Dennis, The Washington Post)



From the Back Room



Adler joins Greenberg Traurig

Former 3rd District U.S. Rep. John Adler has joined the law firm of Greenberg Traurig as part of the firm’s litigation practice.   (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)






Searching for Chris Christie’s kryptonite

Loud, reasonable, union-busting New Jersey governor Chris Christie has emerged as a national figure since ousting Jon Corzine 15 months ago, and just might be the GOP 2012 presidential front runner if he was actually, you know, interested in running for president. This hasn’t stopped Beltway journalists from speculating about the immense appeal a Chrisite candidacy would hold for a large bloc of voters who hate out-of-control Washington spending but also think the president is an OK guy who wasn’t born in Kenya, Indonesia, or the Al Jazeera kitchenette.  (Gustini, National Journal)



Nice speech, but poor definition of ‘middle class’

 The governor’s heart may be in the right place, but his hand is still in your wallet.  (Mulshine, The Star-Ledger)



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Morning News Digest: February 23, 2011