Morning News Digest: May 17, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Poll: N.J. voters back same-sex marriage, private school scholarships, tax cut plans
New Jersey voters support same-sex marriage 53 – 42 percent, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows.
Voters also support 67 – 27 percent Gov. Christopher Christie’s call for a voter referendum on the issue, according to the poll released today.
Age plays a factor in how people feel about the issue. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Additional $120 million revenue shortfall announced
Office of Legislative Services Budget Chief David Rosen today warned lawmakers that the state is facing an additional revenue shortfall of more than $120 million.
That amount is over and above the $230 million shortfall acknowledged by the Department of Treasury Tuesday.
According to the email, the newest shortfall comes in the form of energy tax receipts. The information was released by the state as part of a pending bond issue. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Burnishing Booker-Christie brand, gov goes after Sarlo and Greenwald in Codey’s district
Gov. Chris Christie wrapped himself around the neck of Mayor Cory Booker today amid ongoing buzz that Booker is the Democrats’ only candidate who can beat Christie – and is mulling a run against him.
“I’m not going to make any apologies for working with Democrats,” Christie declared to applause from this Republican crowd in the redistricted 27th Legislative District – home to state Sen. Dick Codey, (D-27), another would-be 2013 challenger. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Governor on the go: Christie’s busy travel schedule raises eyebrows in N.J.
If it seems like Gov. Chris Christie is often out of state, turning up in front of a lectern in California or at a rally in Wisconsin, that’s because he is.
A review of his calendar shows the governor has been on the road 54 days in the past eight months, starting when he was elected vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association. (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
Gov. Christie, cabinet members file financial disclosure forms
Gov. Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat earned more than $400,000 in 2011, and their household’s financial picture appeared largely unchanged from 2010, according to new financial disclosure forms released by the state Ethics Commission today.
For the second year in a row, the Christies made at least $425,000 combined and disclosed assets of more than $1.3 million. However, the exact amounts could be nearly twice as high. The forms only ask officials to disclose in broad terms which income brackets they fall under. (Rizzo, The Star-Ledger)
Christie says no tax hikes despite revenue shortfall
A 12-year-old girl told Governor Christie that she didn’t think people were talking about important issues at Wednesday’s town-hall style event held across the street from her school.
The governor agreed, and went onto criticize politicians in Washington and Trenton. Christie did not, however, say much about one of the biggest issues he faces while trying to sell a tax cut: A tax picture that doesn’t match the bold economic predictions that support his budget. (Hayes, The Record)
Gov. Christie says video with Cory Booker is ‘emblematic’ of his approach to governing
He just couldn’t help himself.
Less than 24 hours after Gov. Chris Christie released a video oozing bipartisan hijinks — with he and Democratic Mayor Cory Booker hamming it up — the Republican governor went back on the offensive at a town hall meeting.
First he told the crowd how much national attention the video had garnered since his staff began tweeting the YouTube link to it late Tuesday night. The 3-minute 38-second clip spoofs the chatter about Mitt Romney seeking a vice presidential running mate and mashes it up with how Booker recently saved a neighbor trapped in a house fire. (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
New Jersey’s utility payments add to Christie’s budget woes
Governor Chris Christie’s budget plans took another blow from the revenue side as payments from New Jersey utilities trailed the Republican’s projections by $121 million, according to an Assembly Democrat.
The amount adds to a $230 million shortfall in fiscal 2012 receipts through last month, Assembly Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto, a Secaucus Democrat, said today in a statement, citing a state financial disclosure document. (Dopp, Bloomberg)
Christie rooting for the Rangers against New Jersey’s hockey team
Governor Christie may run New Jersey, but when it comes to professional hockey he is rooting for New York.
The governor is a big New York Rangers fan, and his team right now is in the midst of a crucial series against the rival New Jersey Devils, which happen to play its home games in Newark, where Christie was born. (Reitmeyer, The Record)
New Jersey thinks Christie isn’t vice-presidential material
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie remains popular at home — just not as a vice presidential prospect.
A new poll released Wednesday found 52% of New Jersey voters expressing the view that their pugnacious governor wouldn’t be a good fit for vice president. Pollsters from Quinnipiac University tested the notion in response to persistent speculation that Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, might tap Christie as his running mate. (Grossman, The Wall Street Journal)
Senate committee to hear bill on what the earth is worth
A Senate committee is scheduled to consider a bill changing the state’s farmland assessment program, which is wildly popular with those who qualify and much maligned by many who don’t.
The bill, (O’Dea, NJ Spotlight), would change the income threshold needed to qualify for a lower property assessment in an effort to ensure that only real farmers are receiving the tax break.
NJ lawmakers may scrap troubled gift card law
A legislative panel is expected on Thursday to consider legislation reversing a 2010 law that allowed the state to claim the value of dormant gift cards as revenue.
The Senate Budget Committee will vote on whether to remove gift cards from the state’s unclaimed property law. The bill also would prohibit retailers from charging dormancy fees on idle cards or imposing expiration dates on their use, two consumer protection features the industry supports, according to Retail Merchants Association spokesman John Holub. (Delli Santi, Associated Press)
Pascrell joins colleagues in pressing for support of police
Republicans and Democrats opposed to cutting federal aid for local police departments, including North Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell, joined the head of New Jersey’s biggest police union outside the Capitol this afternoon to talk about recent accomplishments.
Pascrell, D-Paterson, said a core group of lawmakers in both parties are united in protecting police programs. He took a slap at conservative Republicans who have tried several times to cut or eliminate federal funding that subsidies police hiring at the local level. (Jackson, The Record)
Rabbi Boteach says being congressman would trump his media gigs
Radio and television personality Rabbi Shmuley Boteach said Wednesday he would give up some of his media gigs if he were to win the 9th Congressional District seat, but added he would still try to write his thrice-weekly and mostly unpaid columns.
“Will I give all of them up? Yes of course, I’ll be committed to my constituents,” Boteach told the editorial board of The Record and Herald-News. (Ensslin, The Record)
Rutgers talks focus on boosting Newark
Buoyed by deal making in South Jersey, political leaders in the northern part of the state are pushing for substantial changes in Governor Christie’s university reorganization plan, seeking more autonomy for Rutgers-Newark and a strengthening of the state’s beleaguered medical university in that city.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker met with about a dozen Democratic legislators from North Jersey on Wednesday, including lawmakers from Bergen and Passaic counties, to outline an alternative to the Christie plan for Newark. (Alex, The Record)
Camden opens new chapter in Christie’s education reform agenda
What with its size and Facebook fortune, Newark gets all the press. But Camden is quickly becoming ground zero south for the Christie administration’s push for education reform.
This week, the district will be the first to seek proposals from nonprofit organizations — with potential for-profit partners — to build and run new schools in the city under the recently enacted Urban Hope Act. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Denying unemployment to seasonal workers at Jersey shore
Some of the lifeguards, bartenders, and boardwalk barkers who cater to the Shore’s summer visitors could face a long, cold winter if Trenton acts on legislation to eliminate unemployment benefits for seasonal employees.
Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Belford) and Assemblymen Sean Kean (R-Wall Twp.) and Anthony Bucco (R-Randolph) have introduced a bill that would require the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development to identify specific seasonal jobs, define their length to any period less than 36 weeks, and deny workers who fill those jobs the opportunity to collect unemployment in the off-season. (Nurin, NJ Spotlight)
NJ chamber survey shows optimism from business heads
The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce says business leaders apparently are more optimistic about the state’s economy than they were a year ago.
A survey conducted by the organization found two-thirds of members expect their revenues to improve in the coming year, compared with 57 percent last year, and more than half anticipate more profits. But most members expect their workforce to be steady, similar to last year’s survey findings. (Associated Press)
At symposium, solar experts stress need for streamlined permitting
At a solar energy symposium this morning at Rutgers University, in Piscataway, industry experts emphasized the need for more science, technology and streamlined permitting, not government subsidies, to lower the cost of solar power.
According to Ramamoorthy Ramesh, director of the Sunshot Initiative at the U.S. Department of Energy, there are 18,000 local jurisdictions in the country with different permitting requirements for residential and commercial photovoltaics installation, with 5,000 different utility companies implementing their connection to the power grid. Ramesh said “more paperwork means higher costs,” noting that 60 percent of the costs of installing a residential solar system stems from permitting, inspection and connection to the grid. (Eder, NJBIZ)
N.J. legislators hope to revive solar energy bill
Legislators will try to revive a bill Thursday that had demanded utilities devote much more of their power production to solar energy — a move to boost a fledging solar industry that supporters say would save jobs but critics argue would put taxpayers at risk.
The measure was squashed during last year’s lame-duck legislative session after Governor Christie expressed concerns that the demand on utilities was too high. (Patberg, The Record)
Neighborhood investment can trigger tax credit for N.J. companies
Businesses looking to get a tax credit while improving the neighborhood got a reminder today about a state program to encourage such investment.
Under the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program, businesses can get a 100 percent credit against state taxes for contributions up to $1 million to qualified nonprofit organizations working on revitalization of low- and moderate-income communities in eligible municipalities, according to the state Department of Community Affairs. (Tarbous, NJBIZ)
In NJ’s poorer cities, new research could help identify children with autism earlier
A new study takes a novel approach to identifying autism among low-income and minority children in medically underserved areas by training teachers in day cares and preschools to recognize the disorder.
In the study by researchers at Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside, teachers screened 1,000 children and identified 31 cases of autism that had gone undiagnosed. (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
A celebration of new jobs, expanded cancer care in Camden
Janet Knowles and Kimberly Fisher are breast cancer survivors.
The importance of effective treatment is a subject they know intimately, and it’s what brought them out Tuesday with Gov. Christie and other political and community leaders to mark the formal groundbreaking for the Cooper Cancer Institute in downtown Camden. (Colimore, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Doherty brings fight against red light cameras to the Web
A state senator leading the charge against red light camera ticketing systems is garnering support for his legislation on the Internet.
Sen. Michael Doherty, (R-23), Washington, said Wednesday more than 1,000 people signed an online petition supporting a ban on red light cameras in the first 24 hours after the lawmaker launched the online petition. (Arco, State Street Wire)
League disappointed in holding energy receipts restoration bill
State League of Municipalities Executive Director William Dressel said while he’s disappointed the bill on returning energy tax receipts directly to municipalities won’t move forward Thursday, due to revenue shortfalls, he’s pleased that, at the very least, the subject has gotten some lawmakers’ attention. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Gill regrets slight
State Sen. Nia Gill, who this week sent out a fundraising letter that included what she said was an unintended snub of other women running for Congress throughout the state, said today she regrets the error.
The mailer from the Gill camp included a plea for money to make sure that Gill joins the all-male state Congressional delegation next year. But the letter left donors to believe Gill was the fairer sex’s only hope at grabbing a seat in the House of Represebtatives next year. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
For both Obama and Romney, the poll numbers are ugly indeed
The polls show that a majority of the American electorate perceives the administration of Barack Obama as a failed presidency. This is particularly true with regard to the economy. I doubt very much that anything will happen between now and Election Day that would boost Obama’s weak approval numbers. (Steinberg for PolitickerNJ)
Zisa verdict is new start for Hackensack, but how will the journey end?
The words slammed into the courtroom like fastballs smacking a catcher’s mitt.
Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
With that, Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa — a former assemblyman and an omnipresent Democratic powerbroker in central Bergen County — joined the long list of New Jersey political figures whose careers ended with a conviction on criminal charges involving an abuse of power. (Kelly, The Record)
Corruption probe not a block to this Cinnaminson honor
If Cinnaminson had a navy, the admirals would boast about winning medals even as crew members got tossed in the brig.
Amid a corruption probe that led to the arrests of a supervisor and assistant supervisor of the township Sewerage Authority, five other employees and three private citizens, the authority’s board of commissioners received and eagerly announced a “Wave Achievement Award” from the statewide Association of Environmental Authorities. (Riordan, The Philadelphia Inquirer)