Morning News Digest: Wednesday, June 29, 2011
By Missy Rebovich
At War Memorial, Christie evokes bipartisan peace as he signs pension and benefits reform into law with Sweeney and smattering of Dems
To memorialize what his allies say is the biggest achievement of his tenure, Gov. Chris Christie couldn’t resist the solemn, auspicious surroundings of the Trenton War Memorial today to wield his pen and sign into law pension and benefits reform. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Rosenthal says no chance he’ll take on Congressional redistricting
Rutgers Professor Alan Rosenthal, who spent a grueling spring as the 11th member of the legislative redistricting team, said Tuesday he has no desire to repeat the performance during the upcoming Congressional process. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Charges to be prepared against Rumana
A state ethics committee voted today to prepare charges against Assemblyman Scott Rumana over his attempt to appear before a state agency to advocate on behalf of a non-profit he founded, and a later call to a state official on behalf of a non-profit. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
By the numbers: N.J. pension and benefit changes
Here is how the governor’s office describes the new law:
The Pension Reform Plan:
The reforms will ensure long-term solvency, while slowing the rapid growth of government costs, spending and taxes that have overwhelmed taxpayers. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
New Jersey’s landmark bill hailed as ‘model for America’
Big flags. Big stage. Big hugs. Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed what is, to date, the signature piece of legislation of his term in office and then spent most of a speech praising his Democratic opponent for bringing it to fruition in a made-for-campaign-video event Tuesday. (Method, Gannett)
Christie touts Sweeney’s ‘courage’ in signing pension and health benefits overhaul
Declaring that New Jersey is now “a model for America,” Gov. Chris Christie yesterday triumphantly put his name to a controversial pension and health benefits overhaul that has split the Democratic Party, revived accusations of boss politics, and made New Jersey the fourth state this year to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights. (Magyar, NJ Spotlight)
Christie’s treasurer blasts N.J. Dems, calls their $30.6B proposed budget ‘unconstitutional,’ ‘irresponsible’
New Jersey Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff tonight told Democratic leaders their budget proposal is “unconstitutional” and warned them that if it remains unchanged the governor will use his “full range of constitutional remedies,” according to a letter obtained by The Star-Ledger. (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)
NJ governor pledges millionaires’ tax veto
Gov. Chris Christie says a millionaires’ tax will be dead on arrival if it reaches his desk.
Democrats are expected to approve a bill Wednesday that would tax the state’s 16,000 or so wealthiest income tax filers at 10.75 percent for two years. They want to use most of the revenue to boost aid to suburban schools. (The Associated Press)
Gov. Christie, public employee unions at odds on bargaining progress
Gov. Chris Christie and the state’s largest public employee unions disagree about the progress of negotiations for a new contract to replace the existing one that expires Thursday night.
Christie is clear about one thing. When asked on New Jersey 101.5’s Ask the Governor program if wage increases could be granted to offset rising health care costs, the governor answered, “No chance.” (Gibson, The Star-Ledger)
Gov. Christie insists his pension overhaul proves he can compromise
Despite being criticized as stubborn, Gov. Chris Christie insists he can compromise.
Exhibit A could be the bill he signed Tuesday to overhaul public worker benefits. (Megerian, The Star-Ledger)
Credit Sweeney; he won’t mind
Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney not only won’t shrink from the pension and health benefits bill dividing Democrats across the state — he wants more credit.
“You know what really stinks? This wasn’t Christie’s movement. It was mine,” said the Gloucester County Democrat, also general organizer for the International Association of Ironworkers. (Roh, Gannett)
N.J. Democratic leader who pushed benefits bill becomes target
The Democratic leader of the New Jersey Senate has become a target for political retribution after sponsoring legislation reining in public employee benefits.
A political fund-raising committee calling itself the Progressive Campaign Change Committee launched a campaign against Senate President Stephen Sweeney on Tuesday. (The Associated Press)
Democratic budget plan restores healthcare funding
Democratic legislators followed up their criticism of Gov. Chris Christie’s healthcare funding plans with financial action, adding more than $100 million in new or restored monies to their own 2012 budget proposal. The Democrats have been hammering Christie for what they called short-sighted spending cuts that would harm New Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens. (Stainton, NJ Spotlight)
Christie: N.J. homeowners will begin to see property tax relief due to benefits overhaul in late 2012
Putting his pen to legislation heralded as a money saver for taxpayers, Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday signed into law a sweeping overhaul of public employee benefits.
But that doesn’t mean New Jersey homeowners should expect their property tax bills to drop this year. (Gibson, The Star-Ledger)
In benefits battle, mayors formed the front line
A year and a week after Gov. Chris Christie assembled 50 mayors at the Trenton War Memorial to flash their bipartisan support for his property tax agenda, they were on the same stage Tuesday, in even larger numbers, to celebrate the passage of what they see as a landmark in those efforts. (Symons, Gannett)
The fate of New Jersey’s Urban Enterprise Zone program to be debated today
With Camden’s barren waterfront as a backdrop, Gov. Thomas H. Kean signed a bill in 1983 that created one of the nation’s first Urban Enterprise Zone programs, calling it “the most significant step toward the economic revitalization of our cities in our state’s history.” (Renshaw and DeMarco, The Star-Ledger)
Assembly urged to hold up action on charter school bills
Charter school advocates say a four-bill package under consideration in the state Assembly should be pulled from votes because the bills undermine growth of quality charters.
The bills have been listed for action at today’s Assembly session. An Assembly staff member said Speaker Sheila Oliver, D-Essex, has not indicated that those plans will change. (Jordan, Gannett)
Lawsuit to seek same-sex marriage in New Jersey
Days after New York’s approval of same-sex marriage, gay-rights supporters plan to announce a lawsuit Wednesday seeking the right to wed for gays and lesbians in New Jersey. (Colimore, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
New Jersey considers ban on fracking despite having little gas
Unlike neighboring Pennsylvania and New York, New Jersey is not believed to be sitting atop much natural gas.
But that’s not stopping New Jersey lawmakers from considering what would be the nation’s first statewide ban on the natural gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. (Mulvihill, The Associated Press)
State Senate to vote today on bill winemakers say will boost the industry
The state Senate expects to vote today on a bill that would allow local and out-of-state wineries to deliver directly to consumers and let winemakers from other states open retail outlets in New Jersey. (Procida, Press of Atlantic City)
No more tanning beds for teens under 18?
A tanning bed’s bluish glow would be off limits to minors under legislation that is making its way through the state Legislature.
The proposed ban, which passed the state Senate Monday night and is headed towards a vote in the state Assembly, would prohibit teens under age 18 from using indoor tanning beds. (Willis, Gannett)
Freeholders discuss continuing fight for Vineland Developmental Center
The fight to save the Vineland Developmental Center isn’t over.
The Cumberland County freeholders during their regular meeting on Tuesday discussed supported Sen. Jeff Van Drew’s announcement on Monday that legislation he introduced to create a task force on the state’s seven developmental centers was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. (Laday, The News of Cumberland County)
Dom Imus calls former Gov. Corzine ‘a creep’ and Gov. Christie agrees – twice
The way Fox Business Network host Don Imus sees it, former New Jersey Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine is “a creep.”
And Republican Gov. Chris Christie apparently agrees – twice as much. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Jim McGreevey’s message for President Obama on gay marriage
President Barack Obama should listen to his wife when it comes to his position on same-sex marriage, former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey says.
“If he could only listen to Michelle more often,” McGreevey, who is openly gay, said in an appearance Monday night on CNN’s “In the Arena,” referring to the first lady’s views on same-sex marriage. (Epstein, Politico)
Washington Township Mayor Matt Lyons to resign from office
Mayor Matthew Lyons announced Tuesday he will resign from office in light of a Supreme Court committee’s recent opinion saying a county counsel should not also serve as mayor of a town in the same county due to potential ethical conflicts. (Beym, Gloucestor County Times)
Latest from State Street Wire
Union: Public workers unfairly victimized in pension battles
Union representatives sought to make the case Tuesday that the attack on public workers’ pensions – played out dramatically in New Jersey over the last week – is unnecessary and a far-reaching overreaction to short-term economic conditions. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
McKeon, Chivukula find fault with task force report on nuclear power plants
Two state lawmakers who took part in a hearing earlier this year examining the state of New Jersey’s preparedness in the event of a nuclear power plant emergency were not satisfied with the interim report issued by a task force today. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Christie says pension/benefits reform law will bring tax relief to residents
Gov. Chris Christie appeared impervious today as he inked the pension and benefits reform legislation that he said will save residents some $132 billion over 30 years, with residents starting to see some relief in their August 2012 bills. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Christie mum on budget, expects lawsuit on pension/benefits reform
After signing his crowning achievement so far, Gov. Chris Christie said he fully expects a lawsuit, like the one planned by the state’s Policemen’s Benevolent Association. (Carroll, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Drewniak popped the question
Gov. Chris Christie’s frontman Michael Drewniak proposed to his fiancee, N.J. GOP finance director Nicole Davidman, over the weekend. Her answer… (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
L.G. to swear in Hoboken council
Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno will be swearing in the newest members of the Hoboken City Council on Friday. (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)
Christie puts Dem machine to work
For a moment, I thought I was going to see Republican Governor Christie and Democratic Senate President Stephen Sweeney consummate their political bromance with an on-stage body hug.
“I try to act as his muse, his inspiration in this job,” Christie said of Sweeney Tuesday after signing landmark legislation that forces public workers to pay significantly more for their health insurance and their pensions. (Stile, The Record)
A right-wing reform? No, a taxpayer rescue
Charlie Wowkanech, the head of New Jersey’s AFL-CIO, is normally an approachable guy with a ready smile.
But he’s bothered these days, especially yesterday when Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic leaders shook hands over pension and health reform. (Moran, The Star-Ledger)
There’s a way both sides could claim victory in budget fight
The historic pension and health care benefits reform package behind them, the legislative and administrative branches now turn to the annual drama known as the budget process. By law a budget has to be in place by Friday. Think of it as dancing the fandango while playing a game of chicken. (Ingle, Gannett)