Morning News Digest: May 16, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Holley, Roselle Dems throw their support behind Rice
The Roselle Democratic Committee, Roselle Mayor Jamel Holley and the majority of the Borough Council, which includes Council Members Christine Dansereau, Roy Locke, Randy Sandifer and Kim Shaw, today formally endorsed Ron Rice’s congressional bid leading up to the June 5th primary.
“Ron is an exceptionally astute policy maker and dedicated legislator,” Holley said. “He is a smart, independent thinker who governs by the courage of his convictions. He has a proven track record of success, coupled with a solid, concrete plan to propel the 10th Congressional District forward.” (Pizarro, PoltiickerNJ)
Budget barbs continue—all eyes on tax cuts
Less than stellar April revenue numbers aside, New Jersey’s Senate president and Gov. Chris Christie appear undeterred by the state’s lagging revenue numbers and are focused on moving forward with a tax cut proposal.
Although tax collections are up for fiscal year 2012 compared with the prior year, revenue collections for the month of April were off nearly $184 million from projections, according to the state’s Treasury Department. The April shortfall leaves the state $230.2 million behind revised revenue estimates for the year to date. (Arco, PolitickerNJ)
Payne lands RWDSU backing in CD 10
Local 108 of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW, today endorsed Newark Council President Donald M. Payne Jr. for New Jersey’s 10th Congressional seat.
“Donald M. Payne Jr. has long been a champion of the many progressive causes that matter to working families in this congressional district,” said RWDSU Local 108 President Charles N. Hall Jr. “Just as Don has been on the ground supporting our community, we will be on the ground doing everything we can to ensure his victory. All the members of Local 108 and the rest of the RWDSU family are ready to stand up and fight for Donald M. Payne Jr. in this important Congressional race.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
New Jersey April revenue collections 5.3% below budget goals
New Jersey’s April revenue was 5.3 percent below Governor Chris Christie’s targets as income and business taxes fell short, leaving collections $230 million behind forecasts for the first 10 months of this fiscal year.
The state collected $3.26 billion last month, less than its projection of $3.44 billion. Income taxes were 2.8 percent less than forecast and corporate levies were 22.1 percent under budget, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said in a statement. (Servetah and Dopp, Bloomberg)
Tax-cut pledge may trap Christie as N.J. revenue misses
Governor Chris Christie, a Republican who has spent the past four months promising New Jersey income- tax cuts, now confronts the challenge of selling his plan’s feasibility against a backdrop of continuing revenue shortfalls.
April receipts fell 5.3 percent short of budget forecasts, after March collections missed by 2.5 percent, according to statements from Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff. So far for the fiscal year that ends in June, the state has brought in $230.3 million, or 1.2 percent, less than projected. (Young and Dopp, Bloomberg)
Christie announces town hall meeting in Morris County
Governor Christie will travel to East Hanover for a town hall meeting tomorrow, the day after the state Department of Treasury announced that tax collections are $230 million short of original budget projections.
Christie, who attended events in Atlantic City and Camden Tuesday morning, did not take questions from reporters at either event. While leaving Cooper University Hospital in Camden following the groundbreaking for a new cancer institute, he dodged reporters who shouted questions about the revenue figures. (Hayes, The Record)
Poll: Gov. Christie, Obama receive similar approval ratings with N.J. voters
New Jersey voters give similarly high marks to Gov. Chris Christie and President Obama, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning.
Fifty-three percent of 1,582 registered voters surveyed approve of Christie, a Republican, while 39 percent disapprove.
Fifty-four percent approve of Obama, a Democrat, while 41 percent disapprove. (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)
Gov. Christie rallies union workers in Atlantic City
Gov. Chris Christie today delivered a rallying cry for jobs to members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America who attended their eastern regional conference at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City.
He called the eventual opening of the newly raised Bayonne Bridge — a $1 billion project — “one of the proudest moments I’ll ever have as governor.” (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
Democrats fear nearly $1 billion shortfall after gloomy April
Seven weeks ago, Christie administration officials expressed confidence that state revenues would surge this spring, enabling the state to hit its income tax target, exceed its original corporate tax estimate, and prove that New Jersey could afford the 10 percent income tax cut that Gov. Chris Christie was proposing.
Yesterday, the Treasury Department’s release of the much-anticipated April revenue figures sent shock waves through the legislature with its acknowledgement that state revenues are running $230.3 million below expectations, with just two months to go in the fiscal year. (Magyar, NJ Spotlight)
Report raises N.J. tax questions
Some of Gov. Chris Christie’s critics say he might have to go back to the drawing board for New Jersey’s next budget after the state released figures Tuesday that showed the state’s tax collections falling short of his projections.
But Christie’s office, the state Senate president and an economist who studies New Jersey’s economy and state finances weren’t sweating the report. (Mulvihill, Associated Press)
Senate Committee to consider 17 Superior Court judges for nomination
Senate Democrats and Gov. Chris Christie have headed off a fight that could have made the shortage of Superior Court judges in Essex County even worse.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday will consider 17 Superior Court judges for renomination, including three from Essex County. The full Senate will then take the nominations up next Thursday. (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)
Rutgers-Camden, Rowan University, closer to a compromise
Legislators and university officials are getting nearer to a deal giving Rutgers-Camden more autonomy from its New Brunswick campus and bringing it closer to — but not making it a part of — Rowan University.
Sources with knowledge of the discussions said they are working to strike a compromise between the fully merged Rowan-Rutgers Camden recommended by a commission last January and supported by Gov. Chris Christie and the current structure of two separate schools, one of which is governed from afar. What’s envisioned is a system fairly unusual in higher education. (O’Dea, NJ Spotlight)
Sweeney: Rowan, Rutgers-Camden overhaul legislation coming soon
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said Tuesday he was working on legislation to be ready June 1 for restructuring New Jersey’s public universities.In an interview, he maintained that multiple options remained on the table, even as Rutgers officials suggested they were close to a deal that would keep Rutgers-Camden within the Rutgers university system. (Osborne and Katz)
Hearings on teacher tenure reform delayed—for now
The drama over a teacher tenure reform in New Jersey continues to twist and turn, as legislators jockey for position and Gov. Chris Christie makes clear his opinion, if not his precise intentions.
Much of the latest guessing arose this week with the sudden postponement of education committee meetings on Monday in both the Senate and Assembly. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Fine Print: SCR 59
Sponsor: Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex)
What it does: Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 59 determines that a rule adopted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in March to waive its regulations is inconsistent with legislative intent. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Concern over fracking regulations jumps in industry survey
A new report suggests American oil and gas companies increasingly are worried about stepped up regulation of hydraulic fracturing and the impact of climate change legislation.
The report was conducted by the professional services firm BDO USA LLP, and is based on the risk factors listed on the 10-K filings of the top 100 exploration and production companies. (Kaltwasser, NJBIZ)
Activists lead move to outlaw fracking wastes
Environmentalists, faith-based groups and others are pressing the Legislature to ban the treatment, disposal and storage in New Jersey of any waste generated by fracking, a controversial process used to extract natural gas from deep bedrock.
While fracking is banned in New Jersey, the groups are concerned that waste will be brought here from Pennsylvania, where companies are injecting a mix of water and chemicals deep into the ground to release the gas trapped in rock fissures. The process produces a waste byproduct — a briny mix of water and chemicals — that is either sent to sewage treatment facilities or carted to Ohio, where it is sent deep in the ground through injection wells. (O’Neill, The Record)
Cancer Institute milestone for Cooper
It was a groundbreaking without the ground, but Tuesday’s ceremony to mark the $100 million expansion of Cooper University Hospital’s Cancer Institute represented a milestone in the hospital’s 125-year history.
A steady drizzle kept about 250 guests and nine ceremonial shovels inside a dry tent at the groundbreaking site, at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Haddon Avenue. Speakers included Gov. Chris Christie, Cooper Chairman George Norcross III, Camden Mayor Dana Redd and state Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney. (Mitchell, Courier-Post)
For-profit hospitals, a transformative trend for New Jersey
Most of New Jersey’s 72 acute care hospitals are nonprofits, with just a handful owned by for-profit companies. But the for-profit trend could spread as many hospitals continue operating near the breakeven point while facing the need for capital to modernize their aging physical plants and invest in medical technology. (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
In evolving economy, degrees will mean more than ever before, Chamber official says
The knowledge economy is morphing into the college economy.
A business group official told the Joint Committee on the Public Schools this afternoon that the United States will need 22 million graduates with bachelor’s degrees – predominantly in science, math, and health fields – to keep pace with the new middle-skill-level jobs that will be created by 2018. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Unused gift cards, user fees, tax relief, energy tax receipts all before Budget Committee
A Senate committee is scheduled to deal with a contentious matter Thursday: what happens to unused gift cards.
A 2010 law that allows the state to claim any unspent funds of gift cards after two years has turned into a heated debate that involves the state budget and the practices of businesses. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
OLS paints bleak revenue picture
The nonpartisan state Office of Legislative Services painted a bleak picture today of the state’s largest tax revenue sources – gross income, sales and corporation business taxes – saying they are growing at “approximately half the rate necessary” to reach the administration’s goal of 4.8 percent growth in the current fiscal year. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Booker praises Healy at Mayor’s fundraiser
Newark Mayor Cory Booker this evening praised Jersey City Mayor Jerry Healy as his friend and a great leader at a fundraiser for Healy.
Booker’s effusive appearance at the fundraiser came as Healy continues to gear up for a 2013 showdown with Downtown City Councilman Steve Fulop – and maybe state Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-31). (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
The courts, not President Obama, will decide same-sex marriage
President Barack Obama grabbed the headlines last week in his support of same-sex marriage. The political pundits dominated the evening news with talk about the national political ramifications, and politicians defined each other’s position on the subject. However, few news accounts or talking heads considered the significant legal issues, or what might happen to people directly affected by the President’s position. (Scarinci for PolitickerNJ)
Pall of doubt over ‘Comeback’
The script was set in January: Governor Christie heads down a “Jersey Comeback” trail from Trenton to Tampa, where he would tout the newly inked tax cut to a cheering Republican National Convention in August.
Now Christie’s image makers, those deft packagers of the Christie YouTube moments, are huddled in rewrite. The Christie Triumphant march may be, as Democratic Sen. Paul Sarlo of Wood-Ridge said Tuesday, “stuck somewhere in the swamps of Jersey.” (Stile, The Record)