Winners and Losers: Week of the Budget and Higher Ed Reorg

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WINNERS

George and Donald Norcross

The South Jersey boss and chair of Cooper Hospital relied on his erstwhile younger brother senator from the 6th District – co-sponsor of the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act – to help steer the massive overhaul, which includes Rowan University partnering with Cooper Hospital to create a new medical school in South Jersey.

Rutgers Camden

The South Jersey campus will form a partnership with Glassboro’s Rowan University, but under the terms of the deal approved by the legislation this week will see its financial control maintained by the state university, effectively saving Rutgers from South Jersey extermination.

Teresa Ruiz

The smart, hard-nosed 29th District state senator received universal acclaim in the legislature as she successfully steered her teacher tenure bill through to final passage. Having toiled for years as an unappreciated cog in the DiVincenzo empire, Ruiz this week impacted the state in her specific area of expertise.

Paula Dow

The former Essex County prosecutor and state attorney general received confirmation to become a superior court judge in Burlington County.

Bob Smith

The 17th District state senator from Piscataway gave a standout piece of oratory on the floor of the senate this week, as he argued against the higher education reorganization bill on the grounds that lawmakers did not have time to adequately review the legislation and analyze its cost.

Vin Gopal

Overwhelmingly backed by the county committee last Tuesday, the new Monmouth County Democratic Committee chairman held a successful victory party this week attended by over 300 people. The 27-year old newspaper publisher has positioned himself as a youthful Democratic Party face with statewide party contacts.

Frank Pallone

A key backer of federal healthcare reform, the 6th District congressman could feel especially relieved this week as the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Constitutionality of the federal Affordable Healthcare Act.

Wayne Forrest

The former Army paratrooper, Somerset County prosecutor and Passaic Sewerage Commission chief this week received support from the New Jersey Legislature to become a Superior Court judge.

Ray Pocino

The Senate Judiciary Committee this week approved the re-nomination of the labor leader to serve on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Bill Palatucci

The top Christie confidant and vice prez of Community Education Centers dodged potential financial discomfort when the governor scrapped Democrats’ efforts to fund more halfway house oversight.

Marlboro Twp.

On a judge’s decision, the sprawling Monmouth County suburban community fought off a July deadline to spend its $13 million of affordable housing money.

Rich Bagger

The Senate Judiciary Committee this week released the appointment of the former lawmaker and Chief of Staff for Gov. Chris Christie to be a member of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

LOSERS

Rutgers Board of Trustees

The legislature moved ahead with a vote overwhelmingly in favor of a higher education restructuring despite a 32-4 put-the-brakes-on opposition by university’s the board. True, the signal piece of the board’s ire washed out in the process – the fold-in of Rutgers Camden to Rowan University – but the board didn’t want the rush job that ultimately transpired this week.

Rob Warney

The Hamilton Twp. administrator quit this week as director of community planning and compliance, and pleaded guilty to money laundering as the money funneling intermediary for Mayor John Bencivengo.

Connie Wagner and Tim Eustace

On the promise of a bridge for their willingness to support a higher education reorganization, Wagner and Eustace bailed on the insurrection then watched in horror as Gov. Chris Christie sent back the $10 million bridge allocation this week.  Whether it will happen or not remains to be seen, but more than one Democrat speculated on the possibility of a retaliation primary in Bergen next year.

The Working Poor

In his red line reworking of the Democrats’ budget, the governor axed a proposed increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit to 25 percent of the federal tax credit from 20 percent.  The working poor who benefit from the cuts were a casualty of the overall tax cut battle wage in past weeks between the governor and legislative Democrats.

Frank Lautenberg

The senator bravely waded into the higher education reorganization fray, calling for a delay to the controversial higher education restructuring plan. He ended up on the losing side as first the Rutgers Board of Governors and then the New Jersey Legislature supported a revamped version.  The loss was dampened with the decision to keep Rutgers Camden separate from Rowan, a key component of the senator’s fight. 

Joe Cryan

The scrappy former Assembly Majority Leader led a fight in the caucus against the Norcross-backed higher education plan, exposing  weak legislative leadership in the lower house and a caucus living in fear of South Jersey – but ultimately eating a loss as a shredded alliance he put together in opposition to the higher ed plan unraveled.

Al Coutinho

The well-respected Ironbound Assemblyman this afternoon unhappily digested a veto of his measure for a revised Urban Enterprise Zone program, to gradually phase out state funding – over a five-year period. 

John Bencivengo

Mangled by corruption charges, the mayor of Hamilton appeared in a video seen in court this week taking illicitly begotten money from Rob Warney, the township administrator.

Candy Straight

Granted it was a tongue tying issue to begin with, but the Rutgers Board of Governors member alternately supported and criticized the higher education reorganization proposal in garbled testimony that made it that much harder for the front office to ramrod this week’s legislation.

Jon Corzine

The legally embattled former governor received a regular but unwaranted invocation over the last number of days as Gov. Chris Christie and the GOP trotted out the term “Corzine Democrats” to consign their budget rivals to the era of the past occupant of Drumthwacket.

Winners and Losers: Week of the Budget and Higher Ed Reorg