Morning News Digest: March 1, 2011

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Rutgers-Eagleton: voters split on Christie’s budget

New Jersey voters are split in their evaluation of Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2012.

According to today’s Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, 45% “are pleased with the budget,” 48% are displeased, and 7% are not sure.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Kyrillos calls for firing of 17 CWA workers

State Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Middletown) today called for the immediate firing of the 17 CWA workers he said staged a so-called “sick-out” last Friday to attend a rally, effectively leaving Monmouth County seniors stranded.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Outlook for N.J. pension is bleak – even with Christie’s reforms

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed public pension reforms are a good start, Moody’s Investors Service said in a note Monday. But the ratings agency warned that even if the proposals are enacted, the pension system–already the 7th-lowest funded in the U.S.–will continue to deteriorate.  (Varghese, The Wall Street Journal)



Christie: Obama ‘playing politics’ in remarks supporting public workers

President Obama was “playing politics to his political base” when he told the nation’s governors Monday they should not be denigrating or vilifying public employees, Governor Christie said.  (Jackson, The Record)



New Jersey public workers in eye of benefit-cut storm

Within 15 minutes, Gov. Christie had a crowd of about 400 applauding as he talked about a “dumb” pension hike and “Cadillac” health care for public workers.  (Burton, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



N.J. workers union says bill on medical benefit contributions would hurt ‘collective bargaining’ power

Calling it an attempt to throw out collective bargaining rights, leaders of New Jersey’s public workers unions Monday said they will launch a full court press against a bill sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney that would force public employees to pay more for their health care benefits.  (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)



NJ retirement rate rises in face of pension changes

New Jersey workers are retiring at a much higher rate to lock in pension and health care packages ahead of expected action by the state to make the system less generous, public worker unions said on Monday.  (Honan, Reuters)



N.J. budget experts say Christie’s ‘new normal’ approach on deficit is ‘old’

In delivering his annual budget address, Gov. Chris Christie offered a new approach to solving the state’s habitual and well-publicized deficit: ignore it.  (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)



N.J. Democrats schedule override votes on Christie’s vetoes of jobs, economic growth bills

Democrats who control New Jersey’s legislative agenda will try to override Gov. Chris Christie’s vetoes of 11 bills designed to create jobs and spur economic growth.  (The Associated Press)



Why Christie won’t cut property taxes

Gov. Chris Christie has become a national Republican star on the basis of his confrontations with the teachers union, his willingness to slash school and municipal aid and his demands that public employees take wage freezes, accept pension cuts and pay more toward their health care.  (Magyar, NJ Spotlight)



State hopes to regain part of tunnel funds

New Jersey is negotiating to reclaim part of nearly $162 million paid to insure the Hudson River rail tunnel project that Gov. Chris Christie scrapped four months ago.  (Staff, Courier-Post)



Palin ally swipes at Christie

Sarah Palin-loyalist Tammy Bruce is taking aim at Chris Christie for suggesting that the former Alaska governor should go “unscripted” more often.  (Barr, Politico)



DRPA has new look on Pa. side

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett on Monday named six new members to the board of the Delaware River Port Authority, including himself.  (Stilwell, Courier-Post)



Developers want casino at Meadowlands; Christie adviser to speak at Rutgers forum on state of New Jersey’s gaming industry

Despite staunch opposition from Gov. Chris Christie and state legislators, some racing advocates and northern New Jersey developers are reopening the question of putting slots at the Meadowlands sports complex.  (Fletcher, Press of Atlantic City)



Police, firefighters expected at second union rally in Trenton

The second protest by government employees in a week will take place Thursday outside the Statehouse, with thousands of unionized police, fire and emergency workers expected to show up, digging in against cuts to public safety jobs and changes to benefits.  (Jordan, Daily Record)|head



FCC reviews TV station’s N.J. coverage

The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing complaints that a Fox television station is failing to provide sufficient local news coverage for its New Jersey viewers.  (DeFalco, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Officials seek ways to stem increasing military suicides

When Army Sgt. Coleman Bean left Iraq to resume his civilian life in New Jersey, he was a changed man.

No longer as outgoing, he appeared subdued and unfocused after two combat deployments. He also began drinking too much.  (Colimore, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Parsippany board gets backing on superintendent contract

The head of an organization that represents school administrators is criticizing Gov. Chris Christie for using the school board’s budget approval process as the latest battleground in the fight over Superintendent Lee Seitz’s disputed contract extension.  (Jennings, Daily Record)|head



Who can appoint a county auditor?

The Republican leaders of Bergen County’s executive and legislative branches of government can’t agree on a pick for county auditor, and both sides contend they have the law on their side.  (Gartland, The Record)



Freeholders call plan to close campus ‘disgraceful’

The leaders of Cumberland County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders are demanding Gov. Chris Christie reverse his budget proposal to close the Vineland Developmental Center.  (Staff, Gannett)



Randi Weingarten shows solidarity with Newark teachers union

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers and former head of New York City’s teachers union, last Thursday unveiled her plan for revamping teacher tenure.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



From the Back Room



Stellato and Menendez spotted

Lou Stellato, presumed by most Bergen County political watchers to be primed to take over the county Democratic organization, was spotted having breakfast this morning with U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)






GOPAC, Donovan perfect together?

Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan will headline a fund-raiser for GOPAC, the conservative Republican political action committee, at the Upper Montclair Country Club next week.  (Stile, The Record)



Rep. Holt bests Watson

At the finish, IBM supercomputer and “Jeopardy!” e-nonpareil Watson trounced four members of Congress tonight in a pitched battle of trivia. Only Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat and five-time “Jeopardy!” winner, bested the machine.  (Greenberg, The Wall Street Journal)



Christie at Hoover

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stepped away from the National Governors Association’s meeting oday for a private talk before the board of the Hoover Institution, a well-heeled Republican-leaning group whose members left, I’m told, impressed — and with a distinct sense that Christie is eager to keep his name in the national mix.  (Smith, Politico)



Meanwhile, back in the sandbox

There is a sandbox fight gearing up in the Legislature where Democrats are accusing Gov. Christie of stealing their ideas. Really, I’m not making this up. Democrats are putting up two bills for a vote that are similar to ones they passed — only changed to match what the governor has proposed.  (Ingle, Politics Patrol)

  Morning News Digest: March 1, 2011