Morning News Digest: June 20, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
ELEC puts in place information-adjusted campaign contribution limit and thresholhs
The Election Law Enforcement Commission this morning accepted adjusting campaign cost thresholds for 2013 gubernatorial candidates.
Contributors could give a maximum of $3,800 per election to gubernatorial candidates in 2013 under the new inflation-adjusted limits and thresholds established today by ELEC.
The limit in 2009 was $3,400. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Cryan bill targets PACs disclosure
The Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) this morning reaffirmed its commitment to greater transparency in the disclosure of information pertaining to political action committees (PACs).
Assemblyman Joe Cryan’s (D-20) A2992 requires those managing political committees to provide detailed information regarding their affiliations to other committees.
Cryan wrote the bill as a result of a recommendation made by ELEC, which learned this year of a web of PACs coordinated in shadowy fashion by Middlesex Democrats. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie backing $750 million N.J. college bond referendum
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he supports a proposed $750 million bond referendum for college capital projects that is moving through the Legislature.
The measure, which was advanced yesterday by the Senate Budget Committee, would ask voters in November to approve borrowing to fund the construction of classrooms, labs and other academic buildings. Another bill would direct $540 million of unused bonding capacity for the same purpose, bringing the total investment to as much as $1.3 billion. (Dopp, Bloomberg)
Christie says it is ‘crazy time’ in Trenton with rush to provide tax relief, approve budget
There’s less than 12 days for the Legislature to approve a budget, cut taxes and adopt a plan to merge the state’s universities and colleges, Governor Christie told hundreds of people at Cedar Grove High School on Tuesday morning.
“We’ve got a $30 billion-plus budget that they haven’t even responded to yet,” he said. “I put that budget in front of them in February. Priorities that we set forth in January, like tenure reform and reforming the way we deal with people who are drug-addicted in our society, things that you’d think everybody should be able to agree on, that we put in front of them in January — still waiting for them to put bills on my desk.” (Hayes, The Record)
NJ Dem leaders say budget votes will be there
Democrats who chair the New Jersey Legislature’s budget committees were confident Tuesday that they’ve got enough votes to send their $32 billion spending plan to the governor next week. But Republican Gov. Chris Christie complained that their plan delays his tax cut by at least six months.
Sen. Paul Sarlo and Assemblyman Vincent Prieto said most Democrats will support the budget when it reaches the floors of the Senate and the Assembly on Monday, and the plan will be forwarded to the governor without having to reach across the aisle for GOP votes. (Delli Santi, Associated Press)
Christie blasts Democrats for stalling on tax cut
As he continues his push for a historic tax cut in the last days of the legislative session, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie attacked state Democrats Tuesday for dragging their heels.
“They promise tax cuts in January and forget,” the Republican governor said at a town-hall meeting in this wealthy Essex County township of 12,400 people. “If it’s left up to them, they will keep more and more of your money.” (Haddon and Adarlo, The Wall Street Journal)
New Jersey lawmakers rush to assemble university-overhaul legislation to satisfy everybody
Less than two weeks before Gov. Christie’s July 1 deadline for concluding a deal on a higher-education overhaul – which includes drawing Rutgers-Camden closer to Rowan University – lawmakers are rushing to piece together a measure that will satisfy the multitude of constituencies in play.
Those stakeholders include political figures, English professors, union bosses, and students wondering what their school might be called next year. (Osborne and Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Cory Booker: Still friends with Barack Obama
Cory Booker says there are no hard feelings from President Barack Obama after the Newark mayor put his foot in his mouth last month when he slammed the Obama campaign for attacking Mitt Romney’s work at Bain Capital.
“Barack… was my friend before he was my president. I met him in 2005 and began a relationship with him,” said Booker during an appearance on “The Tonight Show” with host Jay Leno on Monday. “He was incredibly gracious with the things he said about me, I’ve seen him since, and we continue to be friends.” (Mak, Politico)
University presidents disappointed at size of bond referendum
Legislation to invest nearly $1.3 billion into expansions and upgrades at New Jersey’s higher education institutions cleared the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Monday, though more than half of the bonds would be issued only if approved by voters in November.
The $750 million bond referendum would allocate $300 million to public research universities, like Rutgers University; $247.5 million to the nine state colleges and universities; $150 million to the 19 county colleges; and $52.5 million to private schools. (Eder, NJBIZ)
NJ suspends red-light camera program in 21 towns
New Jersey suspended a red-light camera program Tuesday in all but four of the 25 municipalities in the pilot program, saying the traffic signals are not timed according to program standards.
The state Department of Transportation said 63 of the 85 cameras around the state have not been adequately tested with their paired signal lights.
Tickets won’t be issued at the 63 locations until the department determines compliance with state standards. (Henry, Associated Press)
N.J. commission reviews new report on campaign costs
Candidates in New Jersey’s 2013 gubernatorial race could get up to $11.7 million in public matching funds if they agree to spend less than $17.8 million on their campaign.
The new guidelines for public financing were presented Tuesday to the state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission. The panel has until December to adopt the changes.
Gubernatorial candidates would have to raise $380,000 and participate in two debates to qualify for public funds. Contribution limits for gubernatorial candidates would increase to $3,800. (Associated Press)
SBA reports surge in N.J. lending activity in 2012
Small businesses in New Jersey are having more success getting loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, according to new data released by the agency’s New Jersey district office.
Loan approvals for the first five months of the year shot up 41 percent in 2012 versus 2011, according to the SBA. A total of 499 SBA loans were granted through May 31, up from 354 by that time last year. The total dollar amount of those SBA-backed loans is up 32 percent, to $224.8 million. (Kaltwasser, NJBIZ)
Top court’s decision on overtime pay expected to have large impact in pharma
While the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that pharmaceutical sales representatives are not entitled to overtime pay is a win for New Jersey’s drugmakers, an employment expert said the ruling could have broader impacts on how pharma companies make sales, and which employees are subject to federal overtime laws.
“We tend to think of salespeople as professionals, but then they’re not subject to overtime pay in what they do,” said David Finegold, a senior vice president at Rutgers University and former dean of the school of management and labor relations. (Eder, NJBIZ)
Newark charters still looking for home
More than a year after Newark district schools were roiled by the prospect of sharing space with charter schools, the debate has sparked new community outcry over more outside leases — and the option of selling three of the public schools to charters outright.
Newark superintendent Cami Anderson wasn’t around for the first fight last year. But at the very end, when newly hired, she helped calm some of the tensions with a scaled-back plan. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Solar in NJ not so dim after all, as installations boom
Despite all the gloom and doom talk about the solar sector, New Jersey installed more solar systems in the first three months of the year than any other state in the nation.
New Jersey installed a total of 174 megawatts of solar systems in the first quarter of 2012, or nearly one-third of the total arrays put in across the country, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight, a publication put out by the Solar Energy Industries Association, an industry trade group. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Tenure reform, higher-ed reorganization top Senate voting list Thursday
The full state Senate will take up the controversial bills of restructuring the state’s Higher Education System and teacher tenure, only a couple of days after they were released from the Senate Budget Committee.
The voting session is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Thursday. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Libraries increasingly fill schools’ void, lawmakers told
Libraries have of late become more than just places to read books or take out DVDs.
In many ways they have become refuges.
They are becoming the places people go to in order to enhance their education, especially when schools are forced to cut down on course offerings and staff due to budget constraints, state lawmakers were informed today as two Assembly committees convened in a joint meeting here. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
New Jersey elections: The view from June
If June’s Garden State polls are any indication, 2012 is shaping up a lot like 1996 – at least as far as the Presidential contest is concerned. And maybe the U.S. Senate race, too… maybe.
The latest Eagleton-Rutgers Poll gives President Barack Obama a 55% favorable to 33% unfavorable rating from Garden State voters. Sixteen years ago, then-incumbent Bill Clinton held a nearly identical 53% to 35% June rating in New Jersey. (Murray for PolitickerNJ)
Christie’s reformer image takes a hit with halfway house ties
Governor Christie loves to portray himself as the transformational figure who talks, acts and exercises power differently than anybody else in Trenton.
But when it comes to Community Education Centers Inc., the principal operator of privately run halfway houses in New Jersey, Christie is following the path taken by his predecessors. Christie forged a close alliance with a company that’s deeply entrenched in New Jersey’s political status quo — a move at odds with the style that has made him such a hero among Republicans across the country. (Stile, The Record)
With tax cuts, New Jersey still refuses to pay the piper
New Jersey is borrowing money for transportation costs and continuing to underfund its pension obligations, yet despite dire revenue forecasts, it’s time to cut taxes! I’m a cartoonist, not a mathematician or data specialist. Yet, all it takes is a cursory look at the budget to see the state faces a fiscal tornado that is barreling towards us at an increasing pace. (Tornoe, NewsWorks)
The hidden driver of healthcare costs
Most people would never consider purchasing a product before knowing its price. But in healthcare, consumers routinely do just that. Part of the reason for this arrangement is the sheer complexity of health services. A typical episode of care involves the purchase of dozens of services and supplies, often from multiple providers. (Cantor, NJ Spotlight)