Morning News Digest: January 18, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
State Dems return Wisniewski to chairmanship
The New Jersey Democratic State Committee backed John Wisniewski tonight in New Brunswick for a second term as state party chairman.
The term is for 18 months.
There was no opposition.
Camden Mayor Dana Redd will serve as vice-chair. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Republicans signal support for their leader
Republican lawmakers yesterday gave glowing reviews of Gov. Chris Christie’s State of the State speech and signaled their support for his agenda going forward.
The highlight of the governor’s speech and the proposal that promises to cause the most angst in Trenton over the next five months was an across the board 10 percent income tax cut. While Democrats were wary, accusing the governor of pandering to the rich, most Republicans were fully on board. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Christie takes action on dozens of bills
Gov. Chris Christie took action on dozens of bills from the final days of the previous legislative session. Here is a comprehensive list of bills signed and those that expired with no action taken. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Education remains 2012 focus
Gov. Chris Christie continued his push for massive education reform Tuesday as he used his annual State of the State address to call on legislators to back him in his vision for a better system.
The governor renewed his call for tenure reform, school vouchers, teacher evaluations, streamlining of charter school approvals, the abolishing of seniority rules that govern layoffs and an end to forced placements. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Most N.J. voters approve of Christie’s job performance, new poll shows
A majority of Garden State voters approve of Gov. Chris Christie’s job performance, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning.
The poll, conducted from Jan. 10 to Jan. 16, found that 53 percent of all respondents approved of the job Christie is doing, while 39 percent did not — down slightly from the 56 percent who approved and the 38 percent who didn’t two months ago. (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)
Gov. Christie set for full round of interviews, appearances
The day after delivering his second State of the State address, Gov. Christie takes his tax cut proposals on the road today with a full slate of interviews and events.
His day kicks off at 7 a.m. with interviews on NBC’s Today Show and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, followed by an afternoon town hall meeting in Voorhees, Camden County. Then it’s back on the airwaves with three radio interviews. (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
Christie’s big speech gets ‘trailer’ treatment
Gov. Chris Christie released a Hollywood-style video “trailer” Tuesday just hours before his State of the State speech scheduled for later in the afternoon.
The video, posted on YouTube with the title “Governor Chris Christie: The Jersey Comeback Has Begun,” presents a montage of Christie’s clips from the past two years meant to tout his accomplishments and feature his signature tough talk. (Haddon, The Wall Street Journal)
For Christie, 2012 is the year to act on education reform – again
There was no declaration that it would be the year of education reform this time at Gov. Chris Christie’s State of the State address, and certainly no star educator of national prominence in the audience.
Christie continued to keep education a priority, but it was not with the same fanfare of a year ago when he trumpeted an aggressive reform package before the legislature and enjoyed the front-row audience of Michelle Rhee, the famous former Washington, D.C., chancellor. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Gov. Christie signs bill changing school board elections, budget votes
New Jersey voters may no longer have a direct say on their school boards’ spending, under legislation signed by Gov. Chris Christie today that would allow districts to dispense with seeking approval for budgets that meet the state’s spending cap.
The new law allows school districts to move their April elections to the November general election, either by asking voters for their OK — or by a resolution of the local school board or governing body. (Rundquist, The Star-Ledger)
Christie demands 10 percent income tax cut
Republican Governor Chris Christie yesterday proposed a phased-in 10 percent income tax cut for every New Jersey taxpayer, but Democratic legislative leaders rejected the plan as a tax cut for the rich and said the governor should try to cut property taxes instead.
Christie’s surprise call in his State of the State speech for an across-the-board income tax cut runs directly counter to previously announced Democratic plans to reinstate a higher income tax rate for millionaires, which sets up a tax policy stalemate: Christie cannot implement an income tax cut without support from a sizable bloc of Democratic legislators, and the Democrats’ 24-16 control of the Senate and 47-33 margin in the Assembly falls short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the governor’s veto if they pass a millionaire’s tax increase again this spring. (Magyar, NJ Spotlight)
N.J. Democrats argue Christie’s proposed 10% income tax would benefit the rich
Gov. Chris Christie’s State of the State address Tuesday drew criticism from Democrats, especially about his proposed 10 percent across-the-board state income tax cut, and praise from Republicans and business.
The Assembly Democrats declared the proposed tax cut is designed to benefit the wealthy and means little for middle- and low-income New Jerseyans. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Christie quietly signs so-called dirty water bill
Without any fanfare, Gov. Chris Christie yesterday signed a bill that conservationists and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned could lead to increased pollution into the state’s already degraded waterways.
The bill was one of several from the lame-duck legislature signed by the governor before noon yesterday — the deadline to act on legislation that had been approved in the prior legislative session, which ended a week ago yesterday. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Environmental groups: N.J. sewer law will lead to more pollution
Environmental activists blasted Gov. Chris Christie, saying a new wastewater law he signed Tuesday will lead to more water pollution in some of the state’s most environmentally sensitive areas.
“The ink from one pen has just polluted millions of gallons of water in this state because that’s what this bill will do,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. (Bates, Gannett)
Christie signs extended jobless benefits bill
A bill that will allow the unemployed in New Jersey to become eligible for extended federal unemployment benefits was signed by Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday.
The measure essentially implements a recent extension of the lengthened period for federal employment benefits that was passed by Congress in December and signed by President Barack Obama. The latest extension is effective up to Feb. 29. (Staff, Gannett)
Gov. Christie signs law covering oral cancer drugs
New Jersey cancer patients will get the same health insurance coverage for oral cancer drugs sold as prescription medications and taken in their own homes as they now get for chemotherapy drugs delivered intravenously at healthcare facilities under legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Chris Christie.
The American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey said pricing parity for oral and injected cancer drugs will encourage patients to use the most appropriate drug without being influenced by their out-of-pocket costs. (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
Christie signs bill allowing direct shipping by small wineries
New Jerseyans will soon be able to order their favorite boutique wines sent straight to their homes following Gov. Christie’s signing Tuesday of a measure that made the state the 39th to allow direct shipping.
The law, to take effect in four months, applies to wineries anywhere in the country that produce less than 250,000 gallons a year. That includes all of the approximately 40 wineries in New Jersey. (Nussbaum, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Bail reform urged to keep violent suspects locked up
Gov. Chris Christie says city streets could be safer if the bail laws were changed to prevent release of repeat violent offenders before their trials.
Judges currently must follow uniform application of constitutional standards when setting bail. Defense lawyers argue that defendants can better participate in their cases if they are out on bail during the criminal proceedings. (Jordan, Gannett)
NJ carnival, amusement parks, beach bars exempted from noise regulations
Gov. Chris Christie signed into law Tuesday a bill that exempts amusement parks and carnival rides from noise restriction rules.
Before the bill was signed, amusement parks and carnival rides were subject to the Noise Control Act of 1971, which empowers the state Department of Environmental Protection to set commercial noise limits at 50 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and 65 decibels during the day. The act also allowed municipalities to adopt more stringent noise ordinances. (Oglesby and Vosseller, Gannett)
Bramnick is GOP leader
Republicans in the New Jersey Assembly elected a new leader Tuesday.
Assemblyman Jon Bramnick of Union County succeeds Alex DeCroce, who died of an apparent heart attack last week at the end of a long day of voting at the Statehouse.
DeCroce had held the top spot since 2003.
Bramnick, first elected to the Assembly in 2003, has served as the GOP conference leader since 2009, and was the minority whip before that.
Assemblyman Dave Rible of Monmouth County was elevated to conference leader. (Associated Press)
N.J. charter school law gets low marks
Those on both sides who have been involved in the debates about New Jersey charter schools all seem to agree that the current charter laws need reinforcement.
Now a report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has been released around the same time that New Jersey is expected to announce a new class of charter schools. And it’s not good news for the state. (Holt, New Jersey Newsroom)
N.J. sports authority contracts reveal millions in secret rebates to promoters of Meadowlands acts
The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority kicked back millions of dollars to the nation’s largest music promoters over the last five years in an effort to lure top acts to the Meadowlands.
Details of the deals were revealed only after state courts forced the authority to release hundreds of contracts signed with performers ranging from Britney Spears to Jay-Z. The orders came because of a legal battle by The Star-Ledger to examine the now-public documents. (Sherman and McGlone, The Star-Ledger)
Weinberg pledges to make same-sex marriage a priority in state Senate
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, promised Tuesday that as long “as the feisty is still within me” she will push for same-sex marriage now that she has a bigger legislative platform.
Weinberg, a frequent and public foil to Governor Christie, is now the Senate majority leader, making her the ranking voice for Democrats who control the chamber and plan to confront the Republican governor on several issues. (McAlpin, The Record)
Sports betting supporters not worries about NFL moving Super Bowl
Governor Christie on Tuesday signed into law a bill allowing state residents to bet on professional and college sports at the state’s racetracks and casinos — even though a federal law prohibits New Jersey and 45 other states from offering any such gambling.
If a lawsuit to overturn the ban is successful, fans attending the 2014 Super Bowl at the Meadowlands could be in a position to bet legally on the game at the nearby Meadowlands Racetrack. (Brennan, The Record)
DRPA set to name inspector general
The Delaware River Port Authority is expected to appoint a top-level watchdog today, but some observers worry the newcomer could be kept on a short leash.
At a monthly meeting this morning, DRPA board members are expected to create and fill the position of inspector general, a spokesman said.
The new post is intended to “detect and deter” fraud, waste and illegal activities at the authority and its PATCO Hi-Speedline. (Walsh, Gannett)
County police plan touted in Camden
Two giant projection screens on the walls of a Rutgers-Camden conference room depicted the policing levels in Camden currently operating and what could potentially be if a proposed Camden County Police Department goes forward.
One map of the city showed a dozen digitized police cars representing the status quo. The other shows the cars roaming the city as if it were hit with buckshot if the city goes with a Metro Division. (Murray, Gannett)
Camden forum hears pleas for regional police force
As he was walking home through East Camden to feed his pet parakeets one Monday in June, 9-year-old Jorge Cartagena was struck in the temple by a bullet and left blinded – making him the 103d shooting victim in the city at that point last year.
The alleged shooter, Greg Rawls, 29, who police said was aiming at someone else and has served time on drug convictions, was quickly arrested. (Simon, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Chris Christie dredges up old claims in annual speech
Gov. Chris Christie’s State of the State address touched on some new ideas and returned to some old ones — including one claim that earned him a Pants on Fire on the Truth-O-Meter.
In the annual speech at the Statehouse in Trenton, the governor on Tuesday called for lower taxes, education reform and changes to the criminal justice system. (O’Neill and Wichert, PolitiFact New Jersey)
Report gives N.J. mixed grades on overseeing subsidized programs
A new report gives New Jersey mixed grades on how it oversees taxpayer-backed economic development programs.
A Washington, D.C.-based, non-profit agency, Good Jobs First, says in a report released today that the state is inconsistent in how it monitors subsidy programs that cost millions of dollars annually. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
CWA rips Christie’s jobs-creation record
A major labor union assailed the governor’s State of the State address.
Hetty Rosenstein, New Jersey State Director of the Communications Workers of America, said that “Since Governor Christie took office, Pennsylvania has created four jobs and New York five jobs for every one new job in New Jersey. (Staff, Stae Street Wire)
N.J. Chamber: Thumbs up on tax cut
The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce praised the 10-percent tax-cut plan that Gov. Chris Christie unveiled today.
“The governor’s message is simple and direct. We are going to get New Jersey back to greatness,” said Chamber President and CEO Tom Bracken. (Staff, State Street Wire)
Democrats: Where is the $1 billion coming from?
A 10 percent income tax cut would sap $1 billion from the public school system, and Democrats want to know how that is going to work.
“We’re already under-investing in education,” said state Senate President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), West Deptford, following Gov. Chris Christie’s State of the State address. (Carroll, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Christie gives no love to marriage equality
A once pro-choice Gov Chris Christie said his unborn daughter’s beating heart caused him to become pro-life, but while the pounding state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) heard from Steven Goldstein and Garden State Equality prompted Sweeney’s own change of heart on gay marriage, there was no evidence today that Christie heard anything new. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie borrows Romney’s key line
As his ally in the presidential race, former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, excels in the latest South Carolina GOP Primary polls, Gov. Chris Christie sprinkled his State of the State speech with Romney-speak.
One phrase stood out, as Christie invoked the “politics of envy,” Romney’s oft-repeated characterization of the Democratic Party’s approach. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Obama could take a page or two from Christie’s playbook
New Jersey Democrats invited party sachems of the past to watch Governor Christie boast how he brought the state back from the brink.
But the party missed an opportunity. Someone should have put in a call to the White House and urged President Obama to slip into the gallery and marvel at Christie’s performance. The cerebral and technocratic president would have picked up a few valuable pointers. (Stile, The Record)