Morning News Digest: March 27th 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Wildes poised to get in CD 9 Congressional race
Former Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, a Democrat, said he wants to run for Congress in the 9th Congressional District and is leaning toward a formal announcement.
“I have a full fundraising team, people are going out collecting petitions and I’ll be formally announcing my intentions to run for the 9th Congressional District seat by April 2,” Wildes told PolitickerNJ.com. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Chivukula running for Congress against Lance
Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-17) of Franklin Twp. wants to run for Congress in the 7th District, according to a report on Blue Jersey.
The veteran assemblyman answered the call of Democrats in the 7th who could not find a candidate to run against incumbent U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7). (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Former Bayonne Councilwoman preparing for GOP run against Sires in CD 13
Supporters of former Bayonne Councilwoman Maria Pineiro Karczewski are circulating petitions on the streets of Hudson County toward a Republican challenge of U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-13).
Pineiro Karczewski is a backer of Gov. Chris Christie’s with solid name ID in Bayonne. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Payne name still caries organizational weight with Democrats
Sources say Democratic organizations tired of infighting are likely to unite across three counties in favor of Newark Council President Donald Payne, Jr. for the vacant Congressional seat in the 10th District.
“My sense is once Payne got in the race it was ‘game over,’” a source told PolitickerNJ.com. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie calls N.J. Supreme Court nominee’s defeat a ‘disgrace’
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said the Senate’s rejection last week of Phillip Kwon, his nominee for the state Supreme Court, was a “disgrace” and he hasn’t selected a replacement.
A confirmation hearing on his candidate for a second opening on the high court, Bruce Harris, the Republican mayor of Chatham, hasn’t been scheduled yet, Christie said. Harris would become the first openly gay justice, if confirmed. (Dopp, Bloomgberg)
Christie signs fix to New Jersey anti-bullying law
A bill to provide funding the state’s anti-bullying statute has been signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.
The measure, which appropriates $1 million for grants to help school districts comply with the law, was needed because the state Council on Local Mandates effectively scuttled the statute in January by declaring it an unfunded mandate. (Staff, Gannett)
Christie economist once backed tax boost Governor opposes
Four months before he joined Governor Chris Christie’s administration as New Jersey’s chief economist, Charles Steindel recommended a tax surcharge on the state’s wealthiest residents, a view his current boss opposes.
“Temporarily raising income taxes on high-income households during a downturn” would have the advantage of placing “a larger burden on households that are less liquidity- constrained,” Steindel, then a senior vice president for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, wrote with economists Richard Deitz and Andrew Haughwout in a July 2010 report. (Dopp, Bloomberg)
NJ lawmakers to get update on budget, projections
The state Senate’s Budget Committee is getting an update on New Jersey’s revenue collections.
The Office of Legislative Services and the Treasury Department will each present their budget overview and revenue forecasts to the panel in hearings scheduled for Tuesday. The snapshot comes before April tax collections, but will still give lawmakers a better idea of whether the current-year state budget is on target. (Associated Press)
N.J. court gets judges’ benefit case
The New Jersey Supreme Court was asked Monday to decide whether it is within the bounds of the state constitution to require Garden State judges and justices to pay 9 percent more toward their pensions.
A lawyer representing the state argued that a constitutional ban on reducing judges’ salaries while they are on the bench does not include compensation such as pension and health benefits. (Delli Santi, Assoicated Press)
Christie’s college merger plan must go through Legislature, non-partisan office says
If Gov. Chris Christie wants to reshuffle the state’s higher education system, he can’t do it alone and must go through the Legislature, according to an opinion issued by the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services.
Christie is pushing hard for a reorganization plan that calls for Rowan University to take over Rutgers-Camden and for Rutgers University to absorb parts of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. While saying he wants to work with lawmakers, he has not ruled out using a 1969 law that empowers the state’s chief executive to reorganize departments with modest legislative interference. (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)
Christie to tour Revel casino on Tuesday
Gov. Chris Christie will tour the soon-to-open Revel casino resort on Tuesday, visiting a facility that wouldn’t have been finished without state tax incentives.
The governor views Revel, which opens Monday, as the centerpiece of an effort to improve Atlantic City. The $2.4 billion resort benefited from state tax incentives last year, which helped provide the final money needed to complete it. (Parry, Associated Press)
Voters want less name-calling
In the pantheon of off-limits name-calling in politics, numb-nuts apparently is king.
Results from a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released Monday show 87 percent of New Jersey voters say politicians should avoid name-calling and be respectful of opponents, while 10 percent say it’s OK for politicians to make a strong point by calling someone a name. (Symons, Gannett)
Lautenberg seeks federal review of plan to merge Rutgers-Camden, Rowan
U.S. Sen. Fra
nk Lautenberg on Monday urged federal officials to review the proposed merger between Rutgers-Camden and Rowan Universities, questioning whether a deal had been “crafted to benefit powerful political interests without regard for the impact on students.”
In his letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, expressed concern about the merger’s effect on thousands of students receiving federal financial aid. (Osborne, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Watchdog group questions ethics of Andrews’ spending
Rep. Rob Andrews has donated more than $100,000 in campaign funds to area theaters that hosted performances by his teenage daughter, according to a watchdog group.
The Haddon Heights Democrat also directed $8,700 in political donations and $1.5 million in federal earmarks to his wife’s employer, the Rutgers School of Law in Camden, said a report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW. (Walsh, Gannett)
What do budget reviews mean for education department?
When the state Department of Education starts off the legislature’s budget reviews this week, much of the attention will be on the $11.7 billion in state aid that the agency distributes to more than 500 school districts across New Jersey.
But also of interest will be the budget for the department itself, and the money Gov. Chris Christie is putting aside to implement and administer his education reform agenda. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Energy efficiency bill would encourage vendors to bid on projects
Lawmakers are trying craft fixes to a program to help local and state governments save taxpayer money by reducing how much energy they use. But whether the changes go far enough is a matter of dispute—even among the proposal’s proponents.
The bill (
http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/12/0327/0136/) aims to overhaul the Energy Savings Improvement Program, which advocates say could save hundreds of millions of dollars for governments if impediments discouraging energy companies from participating in the effort were removed. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Senate to debate Menendez’s bill to cut oil tax breaks
Sen. Bob Menendez’s bill to cut tax breaks for oil companies got overwhelming support in a procedural vote Monday, but only because Republicans want to spend this week talking about why they don’t like it.
Menendez has tried several times before to eliminate or cap tax benefits that the five largest oil companies can get, but always came up short of the 60 votes needed for most actions in the Senate. In May 2011, for example, a similar bill got 52 votes but failed. On Monday night, however, a motion to open debate was approved 92-4. (Jackson, The Record)
The 50 most powerful people in N.J. health care
Last year’s list of movers and shakers in health care ruffled a few feathers with some insiders, who said hospital owners and pharma CEOs are worlds apart, in terms of influence. Fair point.
So this year, it’s all about hospitals, which are breaking new ground every day in their struggle to fend off financial challenges and prepare for an uncertain future as the specter of Obamacare and its legal challenges continues to loom two years after the Affordable Care Act was passed. For more on what these leaders are doing, read the full list. (NJBIZ)
U.S. cuts may target N.J. marine-mammal rescues
Dolphins, whales, seals, and other marine animals are the “canari
es in the coal mine” for those who study the health of the nation’s oceans and waterways.
When one of the creatures washes ashore, ill, malnourished, or dead, it’s like a siren going off.
In a budget-balancing move, federal lawmakers are considering cutting funds to several programs dedicated to ensuring a swimmable ocean and healthy marine ecosystem. Among the cuts in President Obama’s proposed 2013 budget is eliminating all funds to the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program. (Urgo, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Access to transit, labor pushing Camden into national rankings
Access to mass transportation and a growing, diverse labor pool are helping Camden compete for new and expanded corporate facilities in New Jersey, according to southern New Jersey corporate real estate experts.
“Although Camden the city has its problems, it’s well located to service the greater Philadelphia area through transportation, given its access to lesser highways, railways and ports,” said Alfred Schwacke, senior vice president of Grubb & Ellis Co.‘s Philadelphia office services group. (Eder, NJBIZ)
Property vs. income tax cuts debated during Assembly budget hearing
The executive vice president and CEO of the Southern New Jersey Chamber of Commerce asked the Assembly Budget Committee to support the governor’s proposed 10 percent income tax cut today, sparking a debate during the committee hearing about which plan to support – the governor’s income tax cut proposal or the Senate majority’s proposed property tax cut. (Smith, State Street Wire)
Garden State Preservation Trust to consider $350M bond refinancing
For more than a decade, the Garden State Preservation Trust Fund has helped save hundreds of thousands of acres from being developed in this densely populated state.
The state recently has tried to address the issue of how much of the money goes toward actual land acquisition and how much has to go toward debt service. And on Wednesday the Trust Fund will consider a resolution to refinance about $350 million of bonds. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Rutgers-Camden advocates blast higher ed. merger plan in Assembly hearing
Rutgers-Camden will be the victim of “a hostile takeover” that makes “poor intellectual and financial sense” if the governor’s proposed plan to merge Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University goes into effect, according to testimony from opponents of the merger who spoke during an Assembly Budget Committee hearing today just blocks from Rutgers-Camden. (Smith, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Monmouth v. Middlesex
Republicans have two energized candidates to choose from in the 6th Congressional District.
Businessman Ernest Cullari two weeks ago received the backing of the
Monmouth County Republican Party. On Saturday, former Highlands Mayor Anna LIttle received the support of the Middlesex County Republicans. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Menendez to keynote annual Dems dinner
In an email today, Democratc State Chairman John Wisniewski announced that the Democratic Party would host its annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner on Thursday, April 26th at the Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is scheduled to deliver the keynote address. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Governor might bend in scuffle with Dems
Less than an hour after Democrats rejected state Supreme Court nominee Phillip Kwon, Governor Christie realized that his enemies had already set their next high-priority political goal.
And this is it: A Democrat as Kwon’s replacement.
“I know that’s what they want,” a deflated Christie said last Thursday night. (Stile, The Record)