Morning News Digest: Friday, July 01, 2011
By Missy Rebovich
Christie signs $29.7B budget, line-item vetoes Democratic restorations
Gov. Chris Christie passed a roughly $29.7 billion budget today, using his powerful line item veto to redline nearly $900 million in spending for women’s health, police and fire, and property tax relief for seniors and disabled from the plan passed this week by the Democrat-controlled legislature. (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)
Democrats outraged in press releases as they quietly celebrate Christie’s forced cuts
The Democratic Party outrage that ensued after Gov. Chris Christie axed $900 million out of the Democrats’ $30.6 billion budget struck the GOP as predictable at best. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Bollwage blasts Christie over budget priorities
A champion of the urban enterprise zones (UEZs) that Gov. Chris Christie buried in his budget, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage tonight decried Christie’s priorities.
Bollwage’s Union County city lost over $2.2 million in public safety aid after the Republican governor sized up the Democrats’ budget. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie rejects allocations in state budget
Gov. Christie ripped apart a budget Thursday that was offered to him by Democrats, calling the plan “unconstitutional,” and rejected allocations for the poor, the sick, the elderly, senior citizens, students, and urban residents. (Katz and Rao, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
New Jersey auditor says free-lunch data skews student aid
Thousands of students getting free or reduced-cost school lunches may not be eligible for the program, a report released by the state auditor this week finds. But school districts have little incentive to question applications because a higher participation rate also increases their state aid, the report states. (D’Amico, Press of Atlantic City)
N.J. Constitution aids efforts to cut pensions, benefits
Gov. Chris Christie declared that New Jersey was a “model for America” this week when he signed a law cutting pensions and health care for current and retired public workers.
But it might not be so easy to enact sweeping changes in other states such as New York, which have stronger constitutional protections for worker benefits. (Fleisher, The Wall Street Journal)
Christie nixes $47M in UEZ replacement; Vineland Developmental Center still up in the air
Officials in Cumberland County were counting on two things being saved in the state budget, signed by Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday.
One was the $47 million in funds to help replace the Urban Enterprise Zone funds eliminated in the budget. (Laday, News of Cumberland County)
Christie takes action to abolish N.J. affordable housing council, shift higher education supervision
On the eve of the state government’s new fiscal year, Gov. Chris has taken five “reorganization plan” actions, including moving to abolish the Council on Affordable Housing and Commission on Higher Education.
The governor also transferred State Planning Commission and the Office of Smart Growth from the Department of Community Affairs and the Business Retention and Attraction Division to the Department of State where Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno oversees his efforts to support or attract business and industry to New Jersey. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Christie says plan to abolish Council on Affordable Housing will streamline government
Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to scrap the Council on Affordable Housing is a step toward uncluttering the tangled web of affordable housing policy in New Jersey.
But it doesn’t come close to ending a longtime standoff over how to implement court-ordered mandates so towns, builders and advocates for low-and-moderate income families are satisfied. (DeMarco, The Star-Ledger)
N.J. employers escape $750 million payroll tax hike
Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday signed legislation designed to avert a $750 million unemployment insurance payroll tax increase on New Jersey businesses that would have gone into effect on Friday. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Lawmakers vote to keep emissions pact
The state Legislature passed bills this week requiring Governor Christie to keep New Jersey in a 10-state program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – a program Christie had vowed to abandon.
When Christie announced in May that he was pulling New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, he called it a “failure.” (O’Neill, The Record)
On pension reform, judge rules against retirees in Minnesota, Colorado
State trial judges in Minnesota and Colorado have ruled against retirees seeking to overturn their states’ efforts to rein in government pension costs.
The long-awaited decisions represent the first judicial determinations on the more recent drive by states to reform underfunded pensions in light of a national crisis pegged at $1 trillion or more. (Method, Gannett)
Legislature OKs $200 million for American Dream project
The Legislature cleared the way Wednesday for up to $200 million in state dollars to flow into a multibillion-dollar shopping and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands that has vexed politicians, business leaders and residents for years. (The Associated Press)
Bill allows credit unions to compete for municipal deposits
Credit unions in New Jersey on Thursday applauded the state Legislature’s passage of a bill allowing them to compete with banks for municipal deposits. The measure, passed last year by the Senate, was approved Wednesday by the Assembly, 67-8 with two abstentions. (Newman, The Record)
Officials chime in on pension, benefit changes
Supporters of a landmark plan to overhaul public employee pensions and health care benefits believe that the Legislature’s passage of the bill on June 23 marks a new day of long-term fiscal stability for New Jersey. (Bonamo, Hackensack Chronicle)
How states fared on unemployment benefits
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was mostly unchanged last week, evidence that the economy is too weak to generate many jobs. Applications dipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 428,000. Applications have been above 400,000 for 12 straight weeks. They need to fall below 375,000 to signal robust job growth. (The Associated Press)
Obama administration clarifies medical marijuana enforcement for N.J., other states
New Jersey’s medical marijuana program is not likely to run afoul of federal law if its operation is kept small and controlled and doesn’t allow growers to create “industrial marijuana cultivation centers,’’ according to an eagerly-awaited letter from the Obama administration. (Livio, The Star-Ledger)
NJN final broadcast airs
New Jersey Network ended its 40-year run as the state’s public television station Thursday, with emotions running high among staffers and visiting former employees during the taping of the final newscast. (Jordan, Gannett)
NJN fades into history after 40 years of service
If election night was the World Series for the New Jersey Network, the state-owned public television network, the annual state government budget debates were the playoffs.
But in its last two days on the air this week, the network ignored the drama at the State House as the 130 remaining employees packed up their belongings, shared hugs and tears, took pictures and worried whether they would see each other only on Facebook. (Mulvihill, The Associated Press)
Environmentally sensitive areas of N.J. off-limits to development, court rules
In a blow to builders in New Jersey, a state appeals court panel said environmentally sensitive areas of the Garden State remain off-limits to development under the state’s water quality regulations. (Spoto, The Star-Ledger)
Salem nuclear power plants sail through relicensing process
The federal government yesterday approved a 20-year extension of the operating licenses for the two Salem nuclear power plants in Lower Alloways Creek Township in South Jersey. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
County court declines to hear the Seitz contract case
On Jan. 6 Roman Hoshowsky stood up at a Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education meeting and asked point blank, “Were all administrative remedies exhausted before the lawsuit to defend Dr. Seitz’s contract was filed?” He never got a straight answer from then Board President Anthony Mancuso or the Board Attorney Mark Tabakin. (Staff, Parsippany Life)
Universities in N.J. are some of the costliest in the nation
For years, New Jersey college students have complained that they were paying some of the highest tuition rates in the country.
Now, new federal data confirms that, with several local colleges — including New Jersey Institute of Technology, the College of New Jersey, Rowan University and Drew University — being rated among the costliest in the nation. (Heyboer, The Star-Ledger)
Deportation of citizen’s same-sex partner canceled
Immigration officials have called off the deportation of a Venezuelan man who legally married his same-sex partner in the United States, a move advocates hope will push the Obama administration to halt similar deportations and help repeal a federal law that recognizes only marriages between a man and a woman. (Henry, The Associated Press)
Ex-NJ State Police official confirmed US marshal
The U.S. Senate has confirmed a former high-ranking New Jersey State Police official as the U.S. marshal for the District of New Jersey.
Juan Mattos Jr. becomes the first Hispanic to hold the post. He was serving as an agent for the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office when President Obama nominated him in March. U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez announced his confirmation on Thursday. (Gannett)
N.J. Lottery drawings shift from TV to Web
With New Jersey Network going off the air, the New Jersey Lottery is moving its live drawings to the Internet. (Gannett)
Latest from State Street Wire
Weinberg ‘discouraged’ by veto of family planning funds, hopes to garner override support
The senator who fought to restore funding for family planning and health needs was discouraged by Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of the money Thursday.
Christie said Thursday he issued a line-item veto on the $7.5 million in family planning funds that had been proposed by Democrats. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Oliver says Christie jeopardizing well-being of residents
Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) today condemned the governor’s line-item veto of budget programs and other legislation, including a bill she sponsored to restore the state Earned Income Tax Credit to 25 percent. (Staff, State Street Wire)
UEZ money eliminated in budget; reduced sales tax remains
State funding for the Urban Enterprise Zones has been eliminated in the $29.7 billion budget signed today, but the reduced sales tax rate will remain intact, Gov. Chris Christie confirmed. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
School aid to schools rises $850M in budget
In cutting $900 million from the Democrats’ budget to reach the $29.7 billion budget signed today, Gov. Christie made several changes. According to the governor’s office, the budget does the following. (Staff, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
We here at PolitickerNJ would like to wish our friends and colleagues at NJN the best of luck as you start a new chapter in your lives. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Governor chops down budgeting by Dems for Rowan U. jobs
Gov. Chris Christie excised Democrat-budgeted state-funded jobs for South Jersey’s Rowan University, according to budget documents from the governor’s office. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Farewell, Old Friend
In just a few hours, NJN as we know it will go dark. I, for one, will miss it. It played an integral role in developing my awareness of what it means to be a New Jerseyan – and a New Jersey pollster. (Murray, PolitickerNJ)
Budget set, baboon on the loose
At around 5 p.m. Thursday, there was a baboon on the loose in New Jersey. I know this as fact because while I was desperately searching for live television coverage of Governor Christie’s press conference announcing what he had done with the Democratic-approved state budget, the news program I was watching announced “breaking news” and it was about the baboon. (Doblin, The Record)
Not exactly New Jersey at its best
This must have been what the Salem witch trials were like. Or the Army-McCarthy hearings of the 1950s. This must have been what it was like when men in uniform told Japanese-American fathers with five children they were being shipped to internment camps during World War II. (Lowry, The Record)
American Dream fixes will be costly
The new developer of American Dream Meadowlands will spend tens of millions of dollars to replace elevator and escalator machinery, install vestibules and shore up the sinking ground floor of a parking garage adjacent to the 2 million-square-foot project. (Brennan and Pillets, The Record)
If at first you don’t succeed…DCCC tries again with Runyan robocall
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is again up with a round of robocalls designed to separate Republicans from seniors — this time over Social Security.
Rep. Jon Runyan of the 3rd congressional district is among the 14 Republicans targeted as part of DCCC’s “Drive to 25″ campaign to win back the House (Roh, Strictly Politics)