Morning News Digest: June 24, 2011

Morning News Digest: Friday, June 24, 2011

By Missy Rebovich

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Assembly passes public worker reforms after protestations from majority of Democrats

In the final vote on a monumental pension and benefit reform, a cadre of Democrats in the Assembly and the entire Republican caucus approved the far-reaching measure, 46-32. A majority of the Democrats in the Assembly voted against the measure. (Staff, State Street Wire)



Assembly passes measure to disapprove of state allowing NJN takeover by WNET

The Assembly passed by a 45-30 vote a resolution that disapproves of Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff’s negotiated contract with WNET to take over the broadcasting operations long provided by state-subsidized New Jersey Network. (Hassan, State Street Wire)




N.J. legislature moves to cut benefits for public workers

New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday approved a broad rollback of benefits for 750,000 government workers and retirees, the deepest cut in state and local costs in memory, in a major victory for Gov. Chris Christie and a once-unthinkable setback for the state’s powerful public employee unions. (Pérez-Peña, The New York Times)



Examining changes to health insurance and pensions

New Jersey legislation will significantly increase costs or reduce benefits for three-quarters of a million public employees and retirees. (The New York Times)



Democrats buck Christie, propose budget

Republican Gov. Chris Christie is facing a budget showdown against state Democratic lawmakers, who Thursday said they will seek to impose a so-called millionaires tax, a measure fiercely opposed by the governor. (Jordan, Gannett)




N.J. Dems’ budget allocates $1.6B to public schools

After months of negotiations, Democratic lawmakers ironed out the final details of a state budget that restores more than $1 billion to underfunded school districts and also pumps millions of dollars back into property tax relief. (Salvador Rizzo, The Star-Ledger)



NJ Gov. Christie calls passage of employee benefits reform his biggest achievement

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says a deal to reform public employee benefits is his greatest accomplishment since taking office in 2010. (DeFalco, The Associated Press)–Employee-Benefits-Christie/



N.J. Democrats seek to restore taxes

New Jersey Democrats will offer a budget that increases taxes on millionaires, fully funds school districts and restores property-tax refunds for seniors, setting up what they describe as contrasting priorities from the Republican governor, Democrats said Thursday. (Fleisher, The Wall Street Journal)



Protestors create spectacle at N.J. Statehouse throughout pension, benefits overhaul vote

The day started with a prayer from a small crowd of early risers gathered in front of the Statehouse. Rev. Bruce Davidson, a retired pastor, raised his voice to the cloudy sky and asked for guidance for a state that he said had lost its way. (Baxter, The Star-Ledger)



Christie vetoes adoption bill

Gov. Christie sent an adoption-records bill back to the Legislature on Thursday, creating a new hurdle in a 30-year push by advocates to give adoptees access to their birth parents’ identities. (Lederman, The Associated Press)



Adoptee rights advocates decry conditional veto of NJ birth certificate bill

Adoptee rights advocates Thursday condemned Gov. Chris Christie’s conditional veto of a bill that would have allowed adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates. (Bowman, Gannett)



N.J. Senate committee holds second hearing to examine deal giving NJN to WNET

A Senate committee grilled state and public media officials for more than six hours today about the nitty-gritty of the state’s deal to let WNET manage its public TV network. (McGlone, The Star-Ledger)



Treasurer: Legislature can’t save NJN

With Democrats indicating they might kill the state’s plan to transfer New Jersey Network television to WNET next week, state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff told lawmakers Thursday such a veto would not save NJN. (Symons, Gannett)|head



A ‘thrill’ for Christie to meet injured Rutgers football player LeGrand

Gov. Chris Christie met Eric LeGrand, the Rutgers University football player seriously injured in an Oct. 16 game, for the first time Thursday.

Christie said he and his family attended the game against Army at the New Meadowlands Stadium when the third-year student was paralyzed from the shoulders down as a result of a head-first tackle. (Jordan, Gannett)



DEP questions Sierra Club’s mercury testing

Two months ago, some area residents volunteered to have a snip of their hair collected at an Ocean City hair salon and tested for mercury as part of a national campaign to raise awareness about pollution emitted from coal-fired power plants. (Watson, Press of Atlantic City)



Senators demand congressional probe on nuke safety

Three U.S. senators, alarmed by findings of an Associated Press investigation about aging problems at the nation’s nuclear power plants, asked Thursday for a congressional investigation of safety standards and federal oversight at the facilities. (The Associated Press)



State lawmakers race to close budget gaps coast to coast as deadlines loom

Lawmakers from Boston to Sacramento are racing to cobble together spending plans in at least nine U.S. states with just a week left before the fiscal year begins. (Selway, Bloomberg)



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CWA says it will remember those who voted to overhaul pension/health benefits

The Communications Workers of America condemned the Assembly’s passage of pension and benefits reform tonight.   (Staff, State Street Wire)



N.J. League of Municipalities hails passage of pension and benefits reform

The N.J. League of Municipalities tonight hailed the Assembly passage of the pension and health benefits reform bill.

The League stated that this was the next to final step to assure for the sustainability of these systems and a key tool for local governments to slow the growth of property taxes. (Staff, State Street Wire)



Governor files nominations, appointments

Gov. Chris Christie today filed the following nominations and direct appointments with the State Senate and Secretary of State’s Office. The Governor’s nominations are subject to the advice and consent of the State Senate. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



New report says RGGI a success but still needs tweaks

A leading environmental group is calling on lawmakers to defend the state’s participation in a regional greenhouse gas reduction coalition, citing a new report that shows the initiative is cutting pollution and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



From the Back Room



Delayed gratification for Gov. after amendment

The Democrats are making Gov. Chris Christie wait to put the final scrawled signature on the much-ballyhooed public worker reform bill. (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)






Democrats hand Christie’s GOP a tough choice

Governor Christie’s “divide and co-opt” tactics roiled the Democratic caucus over the landmark health and benefits bill. It forced some Democrats to take a soul check just to make sure they still have one. (Stile, The Record)



Assembly Democrats splinter on bill overhauling public worker benefits

Landmark pension and benefit overhauls approved by the state Assembly at approximately 9 p.m. Thursday — eight hours after the session was originally scheduled to begin — was touted by supporters as measures that wouldn’t create winners or losers, but old-line Democrats found that hard to believe. (Jordan, Capitol Quickies)



One bad idea would leave 25,000 in N.J. without health coverage

Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) had a simple question at yesterday’s hearing on Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed $540 million cut in Medicaid spending: What if a patient is receiving chemotherapy when he is thrown off the program? (Moran, The Star-Ledger)



Before the parade passes by

If you want any idea how upside-down the universe known as Trenton has become, consider this quote by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, sent to my attention on Monday by Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a New Jersey-based gay advocacy organization:

“Seventeen months ago, I stood up here and made the biggest mistake of my legislative career. I made a decision based purely on political calculations not to vote in support of marriage equality…” (Doblin, The Record)


Morning News Digest: June 24, 2011