Morning Digest: Nov. 13, 2012

Latest from PolitickerNJ and State Street Wire

Storm puts tax cut on back burner

TRENTON – As Democrats’ self-imposed deadline to bring a tax cut plan to the table approaches, Superstorm Sandy appears to have all but stalled discussions on a proposal.

Budget committee leaders in both chambers told PolitickerNJ that the storm that brought massive devastation to the state has momentarily taken all attention away from regular legislative matters – including whether Democrats will hash out a tax cut relief proposal by the end of the year. (Arco, State Street Wire)



Minimum wage bill before Senate panel Monday

RENTON – In the wake of superstorm Sandy, the Legislature is starting to get back to dealing with routine business.

And one of those items, and certainly not a routine one, will be on the Senate’s slate Monday: Increasing the minimum wage.

The Budget and Appropriations Committee will consider the bill – S3 – to hike the minimum wage to $8.50 from $7.25, and then adjust it annually based on the Consumer Price Index. (Mooney, State Street Wire)




The world according to Cory: Dems await decision by Booker

With apologies to Galileo, it’s no newsflash that the NJ Democratic Party universe right now revolves around the thought processes of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, more elusive than his twitter feed, and yet still the intellectual property of the party’s best known prospect for a 2013 gubernatorial run.

It’s not like Booker’s behind the scenes moves don’t feed the story, either. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)


Former secretary of state says two-party dominion of elections dooms process

A former New Jersey Secretary of State says only a broad grassroots movement can accomplish what elected officials in the two parties have a vested interest in not making happen, namely greater protection of the sacred right to vote.

DeForest “Buster” Soaries, a former Republican who served as secretary of state under Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and as an appointee to the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC), said the protection process in the country right now amounts to political theater.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

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Latest from the Back Room

Alexander adds two members to LD34 team

Over the past month, Mark Alexander has begun to fill out his campaign team – adding a Field Director and Women’s Outreach Coordinator.

Alexander’s running for the state senate in LD 34 against incumbent State Sen. Nia Gill (D-34). .  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Treasuries rise fourth day before talks start about fiscal cliff

Treasury 10-year notes rose for a fourth day before President Barack Obama meets Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress this week for negotiations to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

Benchmark 10-year yields fell to the lowest level in two months as European policy makers and the International Monetary Fund clashed over the length of time Greece will be given to reduce it debt levels. The Federal Reserve will today buy as much as $5.25 billion of Treasuries maturing in November 2018 to August 2020 as part of its program to replace shorter-maturity notes in its holdings with longer-dated bonds to reduce longer- term borrowing costs. (Armstrong/Kondo, Bloomberg)


Point Pleasant Beach business owners face questions

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — It’s over two weeks since superstorm Sandy came ashore but Globetrotter owner Dean E. Fengya is just starting to assess the damage at the Ocean Avenue business he created 18 years ago.

The delay was due to circumstances, he said. (Gladden, Asbury Park Press)



Robbinsville school officials share details of $19M expansion project

ROBBINSVILLE – School officials got a mixed response tonight at the first event dedicated to sharing information on the $19 million school expansion project that will go before voters in a referendum Dec. 11.

About two dozen people turned out for the meeting at the Pond Road Middle School, where administrators outlined the plan that would add more classroom space to the district, but would raise the average tax bill $192, based on a home assessment of $400,000. (Davis, Trenton Times)


Some may not forget Christie’s praise of Obama

From a man who had consistently and pointedly contrasted himself with the inhabitant in the White House, the words were startling to hear.

“The president has been outstanding,” Gov. Christie said, and he “deserves great credit,” because his administration has been “excellent.” (Katz, Inquirer)


Christie open to smart halfway house changes

Governor Christie is now willing to sign bills to improve New Jersey’s privatized system of halfway houses if Democratic leaders can get what he called “smart legislation” to his desk.

“If they want to do something constructive and positive for the people of the state, I’m all in,” the Republican governor said Monday amid new reports of escapes from halfway houses in recent months, including some from a Newark facility that lost power during superstorm Sandy.

“I’m happy to sign smart legislation from either party that helps make our state a better place,” he said. “But if all they want to do is play games, then I know how to do that, too.” (Hayes/Reitmeyer, Record)



Flood insurance, already fragile, faces new stress

WASHINGTON — The federal government’s flood insurance program, which fell $18 billion into debt after Hurricane Katrina, is once again at risk of running out of money as the daunting reconstruction from Hurricane Sandy gets under way.

Early estimates suggest that Hurricane Sandy will rank as the nation’s second-worst storm for claims paid out by the National Flood Insurance Program. With 115,000 new claims submitted and thousands more being filed each day, the cost could reach $7 billion at a time when the program is allowed, by law, to add only an additional $3 billion to its onerous debt. (Lipton/Barringer/Walsh, N.Y. Times)


Law meant to stabilize solar sector raises vexing questions

When the talk turns to installing solar-energy systems, the debate often recalls the old adage about what to keep in mind when buying real estate — location, location, and location

That issue is emerging as particularly contentious for the state Board of Public Utilities, which is wrestling with the logistics of implementing a law signed by Gov. Chris Christie last July aimed at reviving New Jersey’s once thriving solar sector. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



Two weeks after Sandy, most schools back in session

MOUNTAIN LAKES – The day began without a first period bell or a working public address system. Some classes turned into discussions on power outages or ways families coped without heat and electricity.

ut by mid-morning at Mountain Lakes High School, which reopened Monday two weeks after Hurricane Sandy ripped down trees and knocked out power throughout town, the school routine was largely back to normal. (Rundquist, Star-Ledger)



Petraeus affair didn’t require resignation

So where’s the smoking gun in this sex scandal? The FBI was right to investigate David Petraeus’ extramarital affair on security grounds, but so far, it has turned up nothing that seems to disqualify him.

And, unless it does, he should not have resigned. (Star-Ledger)


Conservative Christie might be the ‘moderate’ GOP needs in 2016

If the national GOP hunts for a more moderate standard bearer for 2016, it just might make perfect sense to enlist the most conservative governor in modern New Jersey history.

It might sound like a contradiction in terms, but Governor Christie is more moderate than he seems. Yes, he has loudly and unapologetically described himself as a conservative, and, yes, he was embraced as a hero by right-wing industrialists and fawning Fox News hosts. (Stile, Record) Morning Digest: Nov. 13, 2012