Morning News Digest: Wednesday, July 13, 2011
By Missy Rebovich
Garrett has $1.4 million COH
The Garrett For Congress campaign today announced it has raised $453,233.14 in the second quarter of 2011 for a total cash on hand of 1,402,402.86.
“We are, of course, very happy with these numbers and the strong support Congressman Garrett continues to receive,” said Mike Inganamort, U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett’s (R-5) political director. “It is further proof that New Jerseyans support Congressman Garrett’s efforts to rein in government through less spending and lower taxes.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
When Lesniak charges GOP with being heartless, Cardinale counter-attacks with no-show jobs
Nannies and charter schools versus no-show jobs and dead beats.
As the Senate reconvened this morning and Democrats put Gov. Chris Christie’s Republicans on the record as opposing defunded programs, lawmakers tangled hard on the issue of New Jersey After 3, an after-school program for at-risk children. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Hagedorn elimination hits Doherty hard in potential deepening rivalry with Christie inner circle
A source said state Sen. Mike Doherty (R-23) was infuriated when he learned Gov. Chris Christie red penned $9 million in funding for Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital, located in his district.
“They didn’t give Mike a heads up,” said a GOP source, referring to the Christie administration. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Democrats fail to repeal Christie cutbacks
A second day of attempts by the Senate’s majority Democrats to repeal Republican Gov. Christie’s cuts to social and urban programs failed Tuesday when no GOP lawmakers crossed the aisle.
A second day of attempts by the Senate’s majority Democrats to repeal Republican Gov. Christie’s cuts to social and urban programs failed Tuesday when no GOP lawmakers crossed the aisle. (Lederman, The Associated Press)
Senate President Stephen Sweeney criticizes Republicans for voting down overrides of the governor’s funding cuts
State Sen. Jim Whelan and other Senate Democrats accused Republicans of abandoning New Jersey’s cities Tuesday after legislative votes failed to restore funding that the governor had red-lined out of the state budget.
For the second day in a row, Senate majority Democrats proposed overriding line-item vetoes made by Republican Gov. Chris Christie in his $29.7 billion state budget. And for the second day, every attempt failed to gain the two-thirds majority required for passage. (Froonjian, Press of Atlantic City)
Christie’s increase in school aid is detailed
The Christie administration released new school aid numbers Tuesday that detail Gov. Christie’s $850 million increase in state education funding.
The increase was disclosed last week with the governor’s $900 million in line-item vetoes on the fiscal 2012 budget passed by the Legislature, but the district-by-district breakdown was not. (Giordano, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Christie moves quickly to build school board
Typically appointed by subsequent governors, members of the state Board of Education serve staggered terms as a way to provide some political stability to the panel that influences much of state education policy and regulation.
But in the last year, Gov. Chris Christie has not-so-quietly shaken up the membership of the once-sleepy body, appointing nearly half of the 13 members. His fifth and sixth appointments are to be sworn in when the board meets today. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
For administration, school aid equals property tax relief
New Jersey school districts yesterday finally learned more of the details about the extra state aid they will receive under Gov. Chris Christie’s final budget. But there’s a twist: the administration wants most of them to use the money for property tax relief.
There still appeared to be some questions as to what actually will be required, if anything. But the governor’s office said late in the day that suburban districts receiving extra aid would be “strongly” encouraged to apply the added aid to property tax relief and not necessarily to restoring cut programs. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Dems warn of dire scenario if cities’ aid cuts go through
Democratic state Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney said Tuesday that Republicans had “voted basically to put people to death,” after his colleagues failed in a second attempt to restore $189 million in state budget cuts for cities.
In the second day of trying to override Gov. Chris Christie’s line-item vetoes in the state’s $29.7 million budget, Democrats said the mass shooting in Newark Monday night and recent arson fires in Camden showed the need for state aid that amounts to a large proportion of several cities’ budgets. (Method, Gannett)
Christie’s cuts in aid imperil Moody’s rating for six cities
Six New Jersey cities including the capital, Trenton, have their credit ratings under review for possible downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service after losing aid in Governor Chris Christie $29.7 billion budget.
The notice came hours after the Democrat-led state Senate failed yesterday to override Christie’s veto of $139 million in so-called transitional aid to some of the poorest cities. (Young, Bloomberg)
N.J. GOP launches statewide radio ad campaign promoting Christie’s budget
The New Jersey Republican Party on Tuesday launched a statewide radio campaign promoting what it sees as Gov. Chris Christie’s fiscally responsible $29.7 billion 2011-12 state budget.
“Governor Chris Christie has been a responsible steward of New Jersey’s finances since he took the oath of office,” state GOP Chairman Samuel S. Raia said. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Building trades boo Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno’s pitch for Christie’s budget
Unlike other speakers who received standing ovations after addressing the New Jersey State Building & Construction Trades Council Tuesday in Atlantic City, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno earned some boos after urging delegates tell state Senate President Stephen Sweeney to get behind Gov. Chris Christie’s budget plan.
Sweeney, an ironworker who is a member of the Building & Trades Council, was also scheduled to speak at the 107th annual convention at Caesars Atlantic City, but did not attend because of an emergency budget meeting in Trenton. (Rose, Press of Atlantic City)
Lautenberg to ask Obama to stop N.J. Medicaid cuts
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg plans to fight Governor Christie’s proposed changes to a health care program for low-income residents.
Lautenberg says Christie must not be allowed to reverse the progress the state has made in ensuring access to health care for those in need. (The Associated Press)
Environmental justice is federal official’s focus, they announce in Newark
A renewed focus on environmental justice by officials with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency could bring a new level of federal scrutiny to air pollution and other violations that disproportionately affect poor urban neighborhoods.
An oft stated priority of the Obama administration, the environmental justice drive is coming at a time when state agencies have less money and people for enforcement, and there is political pressure for decreased regulation. (Moore, Gannett)
Ending state health insurance program for legal aliens lawful, court rules
The Legislature did not overstep its authority by allowing the Department of Human Services to end a health insurance program for thousands of low-income legal resident aliens last year, a state appellate court panel ruled today.
In reaching its decision, the three-judge panel refused to reinstate or enroll nearly 12,000 to the state’s FamilyCare program. (Spoto, The Star-Ledger)
NJ Transit set to vote on budget
Escalating costs for diesel fuel and health care are causing NJ Transit to propose an operating budget for 2012 that is roughly $85 million higher than 2011, according to the agency’s budget reports.
NJ Transit’s board of directors is scheduled to vote on its fiscal year 2012 budget today during its 9 a.m. meeting at the Frank R. Lautenberg Station in Secaucus. The board is also expected to consider changes to its sick-leave cash-in policy for non-union employees. (Rouse, The Record)
NJ Transit is just OK, says a customer survery
NJ Transit riders are not thrilled about the price of a ride, late trains and buses and service interruptions, and they gave the sprawling statewide system mediocre marks in a new customer-satisfaction survey.
Yet the riders realize that few better alternatives exist. About two-thirds of respondents said they used the public transit system even though they had a car, and would recommend the system to friends and relatives. (Parry, The Associated Press)
Federal agency could speed offshore wind for New Jersey
The federal government has launched a study that could shave up to two years off the timeframe for developing wind farms off the coast of New Jersey.
The U.S. Department of Interior is seeking comment on a draft Environmental Assessment to consider potential environmental and economic effects of issuing renewable energy leases in designated Wind Energy Areas off New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Following shooting of 13 people in Newark, Assemblyman Coutinho calls for quick action
Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex) on Tuesday commented on the gun violence in Newark that resulted in 13 people shot, including a 15-year-old who died.
“Thirteen shot in one day in state’s largest city, including one 15-year-old dead!,” Coutinho said. “Even for someone who has been born, raised and lived his whole life in the inner city, the statement just doesn’t seem real. How is this possible? How can this be allowed to happened?” (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Warren County freeholders, others oppose Assembly bill targeting contract costs
One month ago, Warren County freeholders received five bids in response to an advertisement searching for contractors to complete work on six county roads.
The advertisement did not say how much the project would cost.
The highest bid was $4.2 million, and the lowest was $3.4 million. The county went with the lowest bid. (Molnar, Express-Times)
Struggling U.S. capitals seek more from tax-exempt landowners
The gilded dome of New Jersey’s State House looks down upon an idled $87 million park project and graffiti spray-painted on a parking garage: “GHOST TOWN @ FIVE,” a dig at thousands of suburb-dwelling government workers who pay no taxes to the city of Trenton.
From New Jersey to Nebraska, capital cities are crying poverty as states close $103 billion in budget deficits, partly by slashing local aid. Governments own much of those cities’ real estate and pay only a fraction of the revenue that would be due if the land were in private hands. (Young, Bloomberg)
Latest from State Street Wire
Weinberg, Vitale bill would expand Medicaid family planning services eligibility
Sens. Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), Teaneck, and Joseph Vitale, (D-19), Middlesex, have introduced a bill to expand family planning services under Medicaid.
The bill, S3013, would appropriate $1 million to Medicaid and require the state to submit the necessary application to the federal government so that the program could offer those services to people earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level instead of only to those earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, as the state currently mandates. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
GOP: Democratic politics to blame for transitional aid, other cuts
Republican leadership relied on their company line that Democrats were political operatives setting up campaign fliers when they drafted their budget this year.
Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., (D-21), of Westfield, said in a press conference after today’s failed veto overrides, that even if it’s an inconvenient truth, “The surplus amount is the surplus amount.” He said Democratic actions to quote inflated revenues and overstate surplus funding “demeaned the institution” of the state Senate. (Carroll, State Street Wire)
Dems say today’s veto overrides will hurt urban areas in particular
After wrapping up another Senate session in which the Democrats failed to override any of Gov. Chris Christie’s line item vetoes , Senate President Steve Sweeney said today was “an unbelievably cruel day for people living in urban areas.”
He described the lack of support from the Republicans as “despicable and rotten.” (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Christie releases school aid breakdown; Elizabeth wins big
Elizabeth is the big winner in the school aid sweepstakes this year, securing an additional $85 million in aid over last year’s total, according to figures released by the Christie Administration Tuesday.
The total of $356 million awarded to the city school district this year amounts to a 31 percent increase over the total awarded Elizabeth in Fiscal Year 2011. (Isherwood, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Check out this story in the Cliffview Pilot. It seems former Assemblyman and current target of the U.S. Attorney Louis Manzo has some things to say about the justice department, his own claims of innocence and current Governor and former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Jersey ‘bossism’ never in doubt
One day after Democrats pointed to Republicans and proclaimed bossism’s revival, they announced a couple of votes for one of their own before the lawmaker even arrived at the Statehouse. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
The GOP presidential race wild card – Will Rick Perry run?
Although no primary election votes have yet been cast, it has become clear that the race for the Republican presidential nomination will be a two person contest: 1) Mitt Romney, the candidate of the center- right Republicans; and 2) Michele Bachmann, the choice of the right-of-center GOP rank-and-file, including Tea Party supporters and social conservatives. (Steinberg, PolitickerNJ)
NJGOP doesn’t miss an opportunity to emasculate Jersey Dems
State House Democrats are forcing a number of “women and children first” votes this week in a largely symbolic display of righteous indignation just in time for campaign season.
To which the New Jersey Republican State Committee responds: Sissies. (Roh, Gannett)
Red-light camera poll seems more like sales pitch
Polls are given way too much attention by media and the public, but they can be fun to read and even enlightening if done well and objectively. Too often they are neither.
The National Coalition for Safer Roads tells us that New Jersey’s registered voters overwhelmingly support the use of red-light cameras — the ones that snap a picture at intersections, and if so much as an inch of tailpipe is in the road when the light turns red, a ticket is sent to the car’s registered owner. (Ingle, Gannett)
NJ Senate to investigate MVC computer crash
The computer crash that crippled Motor Vehicle Commission offices Monday has prompted lawmakers to investigate how to improve the state’s mainframe system — and the agency that has kept motorists waiting in long lines for months. (Cichowski, The Record)
For New Jersey, a green anniversary
Fifty years ago New Jersey launched an experiment called Green Acres. The governor at the time, Robert B. Meyner, signed a law authorizing issuance of bonds, subject to voter approval, to buy open land for preservation. (Ahearn, The Record)
In Camden, balking at an added bureaucrat
Camden Mayor Dana Redd cut a portrait of discomfort in a long-sleeved suit, scarf, and scowl. Only a crisis could spur an outdoor news conference in 93-degree heat, and this calamity seemed largely of Redd’s making. (Yant Kinney, The Philadelphia Inquirer)