Morning News Digest: Wednesday, July 06, 2011
By Missy Rebovich
Democrats’ fundraising outpaces GOP in 14th District Assembly race
It’s early yet in the race for the Legislature as both parties begin their quest for control.
But it’s not that early.
Republican challengers in the 14th district Assembly race are digging themselves a hole they may find it tough to climb out of. While Democratic incumbents Wayne DeAngelo and Dan Benson continue to rake in donations, GOP candidates Dave Fried (above) and Wayne Wittman have remained stagnant in their fundraising efforts. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Gordon in commanding position over Driscoll in early LD 38 money race
State Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) reports on display this morning show incumbent state Sen. Robert Gordon (D-38) of Fair Lawn in stronger financial shape than his challenger as he heads into a general election showdown against Bergen County Freeholder Director John Driscoll (pictured). (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie signs Democratic bill that reduces tax that finances state disability benefits fund
Gov. Chris Christie has signed legislation that provides for reductions in worker taxes paid into the state disability benefits fund, lowering the amount of payroll taxes deducted from many New Jerseyans’ paychecks.
The bill, S-2609/A-3792 was sponsored by Senators Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) and Fred Madden (D-Camden) and Assemblyman Matthew Milan (D-Cape May). (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
State government’s bad financial situation makes New Jersey the 20th worst state to do business in
The state government’s financial struggles have caused New Jersey to take the greatest tumble among the 50 states as one of the worst states to do business, according to a study by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
New Jersey fell eight spots in the 2011 review to 30th place overall. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
State’s biggest issues get their due
Governor Christie’s new budget will spend more money on property tax relief at a time when New Jersey property tax bills are at an all-time high.
The $29.7 billion spending plan enacted late last week also includes a package of business tax cuts aimed at reducing the state’s high unemployment rate, which remains above the national rate. (Reitmeyer, The Record)
Camden officials grappling with loss of state aid
During Tuesday’s Camden City Council special meeting to introduce a temporary municipal budget, officials had no answers on how the city planned to cope with receiving hardly any transitional aid from the state this year.
On Thursday, Gov. Christie signed a $30.6 billion budget that basically cut off all of Camden’s state aid money. (Vargas, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Christie’s school aid cuts – and adds – leave districts uncertain about funding
Five days later, and New Jersey’s school districts are still trying to figure out what they’ll be getting in additional state aid — and with what strings attached — from Gov. Chris Christie’s new and presumably final budget. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Sweeney says relationship with Christie has changed
Gov. Chris Christie often tells audiences the story of his dying mother and says that, like his relationship with her, in New Jersey, even if there are disagreements, there should be “nothing left unsaid between us.”
After the past few days, little has been left unsaid — except in a direct conversation — by Christie, a Republican, and Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, a Democrat, who has launched multiple tirades against the governor and in one interview called Christie “a rotten prick.” (Method, Gannett)
Apologize? To him? Unrepentant after some salty words for Christie
Gov. Chris Christie’s office scolded the State Senate president on Tuesday for calling the governor names and saying he wanted to punch him. But the Senate leader, refusing to apologize, said Mr. Christie was in no position to complain about harsh language. (Peréz-Peña, The New York Times)
Dem is Chrissed off
It’s the political version of “Jersey Shore.”
The foul-mouthed Democratic leader of the New Jersey Senate tore into Gov. Chris Christie following a heated dispute over the state budget. (Campanile, New York Post)
Struggling NJ cities, towns face drastic aid cuts
New Jersey’s struggling municipalities are out $139 million in state aid that was promised — and in some cases awarded — before Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the appropriation in this year’s budget.
Christie wiped out all but $10 million from the program that helps cities and towns through extraordinary hardships like increased foreclosures, plummeting real estate values and an abnormally high number of successful tax appeals. (The Associated Press)
Small pool of NJ FamilyCare members spared from Gov. Christie budget cuts
About 1,300 working poor people without children will remain on NJ FamilyCare, the popular state-run health insurance program that otherwise saw significant cuts in the new budget that took effect last week.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s budget left intact a $4 million line-item inserted by the Democrats that would continue coverage for 1,300 people who have received coverage through FamilyCare since at least 2003, said Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex). (Livio, The Star-Ledger)
NJ to get almost $50 million for flood protection
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved $48.3 million in grants to shore up long-term flood protections in New Jersey, state officials announced Tuesday, bringing federal dollars to a state whose persistent flood problems have historically been overshadowed by more drastic flooding in the Midwest and the South. (Lederman, The Associated Press)
Federal agency won’t help Barnegat Bay cleanup
The state has been rebuffed in its efforts to secure financial assistance to clean up Barnegat Bay, but federal officials think New Jersey ought to speed up its efforts to stem pollution flowing into the threatened watershed anyway. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
2 NJ colleges receive accreditation warnings
Two New Jersey public colleges have been warned that they need to correct problems if they want to retain their accreditation.
The Star-Ledger of Newark reported Tuesday that Kean University and Essex County College received the warnings last month from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. (The Associated Press)
Without Assembly vote, vintners fear wine industry will whither on the vine
Garden State winemakers are voicing new frustrations after a legislative setback last week that effectively keeps the industry in legal limbo.
The state Assembly last week failed to vote on a bill, passed by the state Senate, to allow small wineries to ship their product directly to customers, and also would have let wineries open off-site tasting rooms to sell their wines. (Kaltwasser, NJBiz)
President Obama turns to Jon Corzine for Wall Street support
President Obama is desperately putting his Wall Street stock in an unlikely old buddy.
The beleaguered president has recruited former Goldman Sachs head honcho Jon Corzine to shore up re-election funds from the banking industry, which is furious over Obama’s financial regulations. (Margolin, New York Post)
Latest from State Street Wire
Christie signs bills: disability funds, unemployment claims, and Smart Growth planning
Gov. Chris Christie signed three bills into law on Friday, including one that that provides for reductions in worker taxes paid into the state disability benefits fund.
The bill will lower the amount of payroll taxes deducted from worker paychecks, according to the front office. (Carroll, State Street Wire)
Judges to sue state over pension and benefits reform, seeking injunction for the new law
A group of 80 tenured judges across the state will sue the state over pension and benefits reforms recently passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Christie, NJBiz reported earlier today. (Carroll, State Street Wire)
Governor’s Office defends budget choices, use of line-item veto
The Governor’s Office responded today to criticism by Sen. President Steve Sweeney of last week’s line-item budget vetoes by defending the budget as a realistic spending plan that funds priorities such as education and hospitals. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
EPA: Three years for Barnegat Bay clean-up
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a letter today calling on the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to complete a clean-up of Barnegat Bay within three years. The letter requires a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for nutrients entering the bay, according to a release from the Sierra Club. (Carroll, State Street Wire)
Turner wants COLAs reinstated for retired public employees
State Sen. Shirley Turner wants cost of living adjustments restored for public workers’ retirement benefits.
Turner, (D-15), Trenton, has introduced S2986, which would reinstate the automatic COLAs that were eliminated when the Legislature passed an overhaul of pension and health benefits for public employees last month. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
NJ budget battle heats up: Senate President claims he wants to punch Governor
As a mom, I’ve seen it a million times. One kid promises to play nice and doesn’t. So the other kid gets mad and throws a tantrum, calls some names. And the other kid says mean things back. And then it spirals out of control. It’s a tough situation to handle with five year olds. (Phillips Erb, Forbes)
Blowback begins after Sweeney calls Christie a ‘punk’
How’s this for a switch? The tough-talking governor is saying someone else’s language crossed the line.
On Sunday the Star-Ledger quoted an angry State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a South Jersey Democrat who has in the past crossed the aisle to work with Gov. Christie. (Katz, The Christie Chronicles)