Morning News Digest: Monday, June 27, 2011
By Missy Rebovich
Winners and Losers: Week of June 20th
Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies!
Rivers and seas boiling!
Forty years of darkness!
The dead rising from the grave!
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!
That about sums up this week in Trenton as pension and benefit reform dominated the conversation. The statehouse nearly imploded with all of the angst and anger on display. But like they always do, some winners and losers emerged from the wreckage. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Governor on Dems’ budget: ‘unrepentant addiction to spending’
Gov. Chris Christie released a statement on the broad outline of the Democrats’ budget proposal release by state Sen. President Steve Sweeney yesterday. (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)
Building and construction trades council releases endorsements
The New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council has announced its endorsements for the upcoming legislative elections.
The council is backing 31 Senate candidates, including one Republican, and 67 Assembly candidates, including 11 Republicans. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Christie: Washington could learn from New Jersey
Gov. Christie nationalized his victory on pensions and health benefits on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, saying President Obama’s Washington should model itself on Christie’s New Jersey. (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Christie on the pension deal, NJN and Xanadu
Fresh off his legislative victory curbing state worker benefits, New Jersey governor Chris Christie spoke with WNYC’s Bob Hennelly about his bi-partisan strategy to put the deal together, the future of the state’s public broadcasting assets and his administration’s efforts to re-brand the stalled Xanadu mall project as the American Dream in the Meadowlands. (Hennelly, WNYC)
Christie says he’s ‘not a fan’ of gay marriage after New York passes bill
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he is “not a fan” of same-sex marriage and wouldn’t follow neighboring New York’s lead by legalizing it.
While New Jersey allows gay couples to form civil unions, marriage should be between a man and a woman, Christie said today on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. (Peterson, Bloomberg)
Handing Christie and easy win
Tomorrow, Republican Gov. Chris Christie is expected to sign the pension and health benefits overhaul that marks his greatest legislative victory in a ceremony carefully staged for YouTube and future campaign ads. (Magyar, NJ Spotlight)
Unions face long, hard fight in N.J.
Near the end of the boisterous rally in front of the state capitol last Thursday, labor leader and Democratic Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin issued a warning as he stood in front of 8,500 teachers, police officers and state workers. (Method, Gannett)
N.J. Legislature to hammer out final details of budget this week
Stark differences in party policy and ideology will be fully exposed this week as Republicans and Democrats hammer out the details of New Jersey’s state budget for the fiscal year that starts Friday. (Delli Santi, The Associated Press)
Battle over New Jersey’s budget nears
Those unusual political alliances that muscled through unprecedented legislation changing public workers’ benefits last week won’t be seen again in this week’s far-more-familiar battle over New Jersey’s budget. (Symons, Gannett)
S. Jersey bloc sends a message of unity
When a Republican governor in Wisconsin sought to roll back collective-bargaining rights, Democratic legislators fled the state to try to block the bill.
But when a Republican governor in New Jersey pushed something similar, Democratic legislative leaders not only stuck around, but also took the handoff from the governor and barreled through a defensive line of dissenters within their party and thousands of union workers. (Katz and Rao, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Package of four controversial charter bills to come before Assembly
Charter school policy will get one last look this week before the legislature heads off for summer, with the Assembly expected to take up a package of proposals that could change how the schools are approved and monitored. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Senate to vote on NJN turnover deal
Senators are slated to decide Monday whether to block a deal that would transfer operations of New Jersey Network to a New York public TV station. (The Associated Press)
Gay marriage law in N.Y. ignites hope in N.J.
The legalization of same-sex marriage in New York appears to be re-energizing efforts to pursue the issue in New Jersey, according to gay–rights advocates and area lawmakers.
Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a New Jersey-based gay advocacy organization, called the neighboring state’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage a “victory.” (Sudol, The Record)
NJ environmental officials to update efforts to restore health of the fragile Barnegat Bay
New Jersey environmental officials will give an update Monday afternoon on efforts to improve the health of the fragile Barnegat Bay. (The Associated Press)
Transparency bill on week’s agenda
A measure that would require New Jersey’s government-related authorities, commissions, and other agencies to have an online presence will go before both houses of the Legislature this week. (Shipkowski, The Associated Press)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may join Allen & Co. retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may be “100 percent certain” he won’t be joining the 2012 presidential race, but it’s a fair bet he’ll be making his first trip to the much-watched Sun Valley mogulfest. (Atkinson, New York Post)
Camden County GOP chairman puts party on track
Camden County Republican Committee Chairman Thomas Booth was handed the reins of a badly fractured party less than three months ago.
Wounds have been healed and fences mended, he said, adding, “I expect to win at every level in November.” (Roh, Gannett)
Pinelands panel looks to streamline work
With its budget slashed and work force reduced by 30 percent, the state Pinelands Commission is looking for more ways to streamline its regulatory process and be prepared when economic recovery brings builders back to the region, Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg said Thursday. (Moore, Gannett)
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: By the numbers
Gov. Chris Christie pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) last month, a move opposed by environmentalists and Democratic lawmakers. They are pushing legislation to rejoin the 10-state coalition, which is designed to develop a regional approach to curbing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants through a cap-and-trade program. In a bid to bolster their effort, Environment New Jersey released a report yesterday citing the benefits of the program. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Latest from State Street Wire
PBA filing lawsuit on pension and benefits reform
The N.J. Policemen’s Benevolent Association announced today that it will file a lawsuit against the state for the not-yet-signed pension and benefits reform legislation. The bill was passed by the Senate and Assembly this week, although the Senate needs to approve an amendment on Monday before Gov. Chris Christie can sign the bill. (Carroll, State Street Wire)
Governor certifies nearly $300M less in projected revenue compared to Dems’ budget
The state says there will be $30.33 billion available to fund the upcoming fiscal year’s budget. And that is almost $300 million less than what the Democrats envisioned in a spending plan unveiled Thursday. (Staff, State Street Wire)
Package of bills appropriating over $200M for historic, farmland preservation clears Assembly
The Assembly approved a package of bills Thursday night that will assist historic and farmland preservation. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
N.J. Business & Industry Assoc. applauds pension/benefits reform as long overdue
The New Jersey Business & Industry Association today praised the Assembly passage of the public health benefits and pension reform bill Thursday night. (Staff, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Hiding in plain sight
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman and Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito were spotted having lunch together today at Hobby’s Deli in Newark. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
N.J. public workers aren’t the enemy – or the solution – in budget battle
Sorry, but there were no “union thugs” on the streets of Trenton last week when the Legislature voted to impose thousands of dollars of new and unexpected costs on a half-million public workers and retirees. And, if the day brought a great political victory by Gov. Chris Christie over big, bad unions, it is likely to come at great cost to just plain people. (Braun, The Star-Ledger)
Just this once, I will save it for the show
I’ve been a guest on New Jersey Network’s “Reporters Roundtable” many times. Four opinionated reporters and columnists sit around a table dissecting the news of the week. Leading the political biology class is Michael Aron, one of the most decent and honorable journalists anyone could hope to meet. (Doblin, The Record)
State must give all children chance to learn in nurturing environment
Newsweek magazine has released its annual “America’s Best High Schools” report. Out of the top 100, New Jersey is represented by seven schools — 36 in the top 500. Can we learn from this list? (Ingle, Gannett)
Christie should run now; he may never be this hot again
Chris Christie should run for president now, assuming he aspires to ever hold that office. The GOP field for 2012 remains wide open, while there is no telling how a 2016 (or later) field could shape up. The economy is the focal point this cycle, so Christie’s reputation as a budget-cutting governor suits the times. And popularity in politics is often fleeting, particularly for a Republican from Democrat-heavy New Jersey. (Smerconish, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
In case you missed it
Gov. Chris Christie rips Democrats’ budget proposal, warns of more modest revenue projections
Gov. Chris Christie ripped into an alternative budget plan being offered by Democratic lawmakers Friday and warned them to scale it back by relying on more modest revenue projections. (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)
Christie: ‘I’m huggable and lovable’
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says where he sends his kids to school is nobody’s business and defended tangling with a constituent challenging his plan to cut public school funding. (Mason, Politico)
N.J. Gov. Christie: Obama needs to ‘show up’
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says President Obama and Congress can learn a thing or two from his bipartisan victory on a pension and health care overhaul that will save the state billions of dollars. (Camia, USA Today)
Christie, known for confrontation, touts compromises
In his short time in office, Gov. Chris Christie has made a national name for himself with his sharp tongue and confrontational style.
His public fights with unions, lawmakers, reporters and even everyday people who attend his town hall events have made him a YouTube sensation, a Republican Party darling and a frequent guest on national talk shows. (The Associated Press)
Markell gives credit to Christie for benefits-slashing bill
Despite their partisan differences, Democratic Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware has some empathy for Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, whose pending signature on legislation passed by the state Assembly Thursday will cut pension and health benefits for almost 750,000 state employees and retirees in a belt-tightening effort that Christie says will save billions. (Boerma, National Journal)
New Jersey public sector bill a victory for Christie
Governor Chris Christie’s success in forcing New Jersey public sector workers to pay more for their benefits will burnish his image nationally among Republicans already wooing him for national office, analysts said on Friday. (Allen, Reuters)
Democrats’ support of N.J. employee pension reform has unions threatening payback at the ballot box
It felt like a bad breakup, complete with angry tirades and tearful pleading.
New Jersey Democrats have spent years locked arm-in-arm with unions, but the historical alliance frayed last week as the Democrats who control the Legislature pushed through a plan to cut public worker benefits. (Megerian and Friedman, The Star-Ledger)
N.J. Assembly’s vote to block N.Y.-based WNET takeover of NJN disappoints Gov. Christie’s office
The governor’s office expressed disappointment today at the Assembly’s vote to block its proposed deal to let WNET run New Jersey public television. Meanwhile, the political chess moves continued in the Senate, where a vote on a similar resolution is set for Monday. (McGlone, The Star-Ledger)
N.J. Republicans look to restore $7.5 million for women’s health care
Much to the surprise of Democratic women legislators who have tried for over a year to get Gov. Chris Christie to the restore $7.5 million he cut out of the 2010-11 state budget for women’s health care, 13 Republican Assembly members on Friday announced they are sponsoring a resolution to restore the aid to the shaping 2011-12 budget. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
N.J. employee unions face new battle over possible pay cuts, now without benefits as bargaining chip
After suffering a resounding defeat when the Legislature agreed they should be forced to pay more for their benefits through law, state employee unions are gearing up for the next fight: trying to stave off a 3.5 percent pay cut Gov. Chris Christie offered them during contract talks. (Gibson, The Star-Ledger)
Once best friends, N.J.’s top environmental leaders now fighting like bitter enemies
The Statehouse was abuzz moments after Gov. Chris Christie said he would roll back clean energy goals and reporters gathered around the New Jersey Environmental Federation’s David Pringle. (Baxter, The Star-Ledger)
Vineland Developmental Center would get new life in Democrats’ budget proposal, Van Drew says
Proposed changes by Democrats to Gov. Chris Christie’s state budget may delay the closing of the Vineland Development Center and restore funding to the state Urban Enterprise Zone program, state Sen. Jeff Van Drew said Friday. (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)
Budget woes eroding help for gamblers
With New Jersey scrambling to prop up its gaming industry against competition from other states, advocates who support treatment for compulsive gamblers say there are fewer safeguards in place – and more danger they will get into serious trouble. (Moore, Gannett)
Norcross ‘anti snow dumping’ bill clears N.J. Assembly
Legislation that would prohibit commercial operators from plowing snow off private land and dumping it onto public areas, heads to Gov. Chris Christie for consideration after passing in the Assembly. (Barna, Gloucester County Times)
School districts consider state teacher evaluation pilot
The New Jersey Department of Education is looking for nine school districts to participate in the development of a new statewide teacher evaluation system, and some local districts have expressed interest in joining the pilot program. (Driscoll, Gloucester County Times)
Bill aims to protect Delaware River Basin
Environmental groups and advocates from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York are cheering the introduction of federal legislation aimed at enhancing and protecting the Delaware River and its large watershed. (Levinsky, Burlington County Times)
Time of change for N.J. police chiefs
They’re symptoms of strained budgets, perhaps steps in the evolution of policing. In any case, the ideas of hiring a civilian to head a police department and that of choosing a chief by venturing outside the common succession of command are not new. (Green, Gloucester County Times)
N.J. National Action Network holds conference, calls for more jobs, housing for black community
Jobs. Education. Housing. Voting Rights.
In decades past, the black community made significant gains, but have suffered staggering losses in recent years, according to organizers of the New Jersey National Action Network. For them, it’s now time to make a concerted push to gain back ground. (Giambusso, The Star-Ledger)
N.J. native Army General Raymond Odierno tapped for Joint Chiefs of Staff
President Barack Obama has tapped a New Jersey native to be the highest-ranking Army officer on active duty, and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Cruz, New Jersey Newsroom)
Twin Towers steel sent for memorials across America
As the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks nears, workers at an airplane hangar filled with World Trade Center steel have dispatched charred hunks of metal to towns across America for building memorials. (Rogo, Reuters)
In case you missed it: Opinion
George Norcross and pension reform (Or, how I came to believe in the bogey man)
Throughout the past week’s battle over public worker pension and health benefits reform in Trenton, one name has hung over the debate more than any other: George Norcross. The South Jersey Democratic leader was targeted by public worker unions who saw his fingerprints on puzzling, last minute clauses inserted into the legislation by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) a longtime friend and ally of Norcross. (Donohue, The Star-Ledger)
Conservative gov’s handing our radio stations to a bunch of liberals
On my drive to Trenton Thursday morning to cover that hearing on the transfer of the New Jersey Network licenses I tuned my car radio to WNYC-FM to get a taste of what I can expect as of 12:01 a.m. Friday. (Mulshine, The Star-Ledger)
Public unions need to get real
About 8,500 union members rocked downtown Trenton Thursday afternoon, blowing tubas, banging drums and shouting insults through megaphones at their Republican governor and Democratic Senate president. (Rosen, Gannett)
A wrap for ‘Reporters Roundtable’
What’s likely to be the final episode of NJN’s ‘Reporters Roundtable’ taped today and airs tonight and Sunday. It’s online now, if you’re interested.
New Jersey Network is slated to close up shop Thursday, after more than 40 years on the air. The state intends to transfer control of the operation to a new nonprofit affiliated with WNET/Channel 13, which will relaunch the network as NJTV. (Symons, Gannett)
Better New Jersey hiding behind cloak of secrecy
The Auditor has gotten a glimpse at the financing of the Center for a Better New Jersey, a controversial organization set up by Republicans to raise funds for their ill-fated redistricting effort. (The Auditor, The Star-Ledger)
Cryan may listen, but will it bring unity?
The Hoboken Democratic Organization elected Jaime Cryan as its chairman on June 13 with 40 Real Democrats of Hoboken voting for him and 32 Honest Democrats of the Mayor Dawn Zimmer persuasion casting ballots for Philip Cohen. (Political Insider, The Jersey Journal)
Busting the myth: The real numbers show N.J. is not the most overtaxed state in the nation
Perhaps you’ve heard a politician or two, in an accusatory tone, declare New Jersey has the highest taxes in the nation. It’s become a rallying cry for the current administration. It is repeated as an indisputable fact by the media. But mostly it just sounds right to people, perhaps because it so neatly fits the cynical narrative of government waste, fraud and abuse. (Forsberg and Howlett for The Star-Ledger)