Weekly Advance: Week of Feb. 20

TRENTON – The governor will deliver his annual budget address on Tuesday before a joint session of the Legislature.

And that will kick off a busy season as far as state lawmakers are concerned.  From the starting gun of the budget address it will be a mad dash to the finish line June 30, with partisan twists and turns along the way.

Gov. Chris Christie already has offered a glimpse into where he is heading.  In his State of the State address last month, he unveiled his proposal for an across-the-board, 10 percent income tax cut that would be phased in over three years.

Democrats attacked it during a Budget Committee hearing shortly afterward, although one of their own, Joseph Cryan, (D-20), Union, has introduced a set of bills calling for a limited income tax reduction, one that would not benefit the truly high-end wage-earners.

While the actual line-by-line budget figure proposals will not be available for a few weeks, expect the governor to offer an overview of his priorities on Tuesday.

For example, during last year’s budget address Christie issued his call for meaningful pension reforms, which led to months of heated partisan wrangling before legislation was passed.

One item to keep an ear open for: Christie has said previously that education reform will be a priority this year, so possibly he will address funding issues.

Paycheck issues

Two days after the budget address, the Assembly Democrats will address one of their own pocketbook issues: Trying to increase the minimum wage for New Jerseyans.

The Labor Committee will deal with a bill to hike the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50, an issue that Speaker Sheila Oliver has said will be a priority for the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

The bill, A2162, carries the names of the lower chamber leadership – Oliver, Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Speaker Pro Tem Jerry Green, Majority Conference Leader Gordon Johnson, Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto, and Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski – as sponsors in order to underline the proposal’s importance.

In January, Gov. Christie offered a lukewarm response to the idea. He said that initially he would not be inclined to sign such a bill, added that he is reluctant to upset what he sees as New Jersey’s burgeoning recovery, and he said he would take a “wait and see’’ approach.

Next week’s schedule

Monday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Nothing scheduled

 

Tuesday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

2 p.m., Joint Session, Budget Address, Assembly chambers, Statehouse, Trenton

Boards and Commissions

10 a.m., Mosquito Control Commission, Department of Environmental Protection, 501 E. State St., Trenton

11 a.m., Election Law Enforcement Commission, 28 W. State St., 12th floor, Trenton

4 p.m., Site Remediation Licensing Board, Department of Environmental Protection, 401 E. State St., Trenton

 

Wednesday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Nothing scheduled

Boards and Commissions

10 a.m., Civil Service Commission, first-floor board room, 3 Station Plaza, 44 S. Clinton Ave., Trenton

 

Thursday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Assembly

10 a.m., Labor Committee, Rm. 11, Statehouse Annex, Trenton

 

Friday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Nothing scheduled

Daily Events

8:30 a.m., Avoiding the Wage and Hour Trap, N.J. Association of Business and Industry, Sheraton Eatontown, Exit 105, Garden State Parkway

 

Weekly Advance: Week of Feb. 20