Morning News Digest: January 4, 2013

Sources: Assemblyman Barnes will run for LD 18 Senate seat

Assemblyman Peter Barnes III (D-18) will have the bulk of establishment support from the Middlesex County Democratic Committee in a bid for the 18th District state Senate seat currently occupied by state Sen. Barbara Buono.

According to three sources, Barnes will run for the seat this year.

Buono is opting not to run for re-election in 2013 as she pursues a run for governor. So far, she is the only declared gubernatorial candidate among Democratic Party elected officials. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)


OLS warns N.J. facing $700M revenue shortfall

TRENTON – New Jersey is staring down the barrel of a $700 million revenue shortfall, according to the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services.

David Rosen, OLS’ budget and finance officer, warned Senate lawmakers New Jersey would need “a spectacular revenue acceleration” to hit the governor’s target projections. Revenues would need to grow by nearly 12 percent over the remaining seven months to hit the target, he said.

“The revenue problem is broad. OLS tracks 14 separate revenues in our monthly snapshot [and] through November, each of these revenues is trailing both the executive target and the required annual growth rate,” said Rosen, explaining that Fiscal Year 2013 revenues have missed Gov. Chris Christie’s targets in each of the first five months of FY 2013. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)


Sarlo casts shadow on tax cut possibility: ‘Does the math work?’

TRENTON – News that the state could expect at least a $700 million revenue shortfall has cast a dark shadow over any prospects for the Legislature approving a cut in income taxes, according to a leading Senate Democrat.

The chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, Sen. Paul Sarlo, (D-36), all but pushed a tax cut proposal off the table Thursday after the state’s Office of Legislative Services projected a $700 million shortfall that could reach as high as $2 billion if growth remains flat. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)


Christie’s office snaps back at OLS’ shortfall prediction

TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie’s office snapped back at the head finance officer for the Office of Legislative Services Thursday, saying there are too many unknowns to “jump to any conclusions” with the state’s economy.

“David Rosen has been persistently negative and persistently wrong about the state’s revenues, and his analysis today is no exception,” said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak in a statement. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)


Christie exceeds campaign goal of $2 million

Just over a month after Governor Christie confirmed he will seek a second term, his campaign has raised more than $2 million.

The Republican’s campaign issued a statement Thursday saying it exceeded its goal, bringing in $2.1 million by Dec. 31. (Hayes/The Record)


Bayonne Freeholder DiDomenico crashes into Jersey City building

Hudson County Freeholder Doreen DiDomenico of Bayonne crashed her car into a building on Newark Avenue near Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City tonight.

DiDomenico was apparently on her way to the freeholders meeting on Pavonia Avenue tonight when she crashed. (Zeitlinger/Jersey Journal)


State agency should oversee Jersey shore rebuilding in battered towns, lawmaker says

Homes were lifted up and blown down. The surging ocean, with little to block its path, swallowed blocks whole.

If one Assemblyman has his way, superstorm Sandy will dislodge something else — New Jersey’s jealously guarded tradition of home rule — and replace it with a state commission that would assume much of the authority for rebuilding the battered shore towns. (Friedman/Star-Ledger)


Sandy victims could see insurance payouts soon through $9.7B congress bill

WASHINGTON — Many home and business owners flooded out by Hurricane Sandy could get insurance payouts soon through congressional action expected today on a $9.7 billion bill to replenish the National Flood Insurance Program.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the program, warned that it will run out of money next week if Congress doesn’t give it additional borrowing authority to pay out claims. Congress created the program in 1968 because few private insurers cover flood damage.  (AP)


N.J. Senate committee passes bill allowing union workers on some Sandy projects

TRENTON — Governments hiring contractors to build highways, bridges, pumping stations and water and sewage treatment plants would have the choice of calling for all-union workers under project labor agreements under a bill released from a Senate committee today.

The measure, S2425, was billed by supporters as a way to make the bidding process for construction jobs – particularly in rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy – more competitive and fairer toward New Jersey trades workers, many of whom are union members who have been out of work for more than two years because of the recession. (Spoto/Star-Ledger)


Budget cuts loom as shortfall tops $700 million

With New Jersey facing a $705 million budget shortfall that could easily double by June, the Senate Democratic budget chairman yesterday called upon the Christie administration to lay out a plan to close the gap before the size of the deficit becomes virtually unmanageable.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) urged Gov. Chris Christie “to face up to the realities of the growing shortfall” and make the necessary midyear budget cuts.  (Magyar/NJSpotlight)


Most eligible Newark teachers take a pass on new bonus program

As Newark’s landmark teachers contract begins to be implemented, only about 20 percent of district teachers who can opt to earn bonuses for exemplary evaluations and service in hard-to-fill slots have actually decided to do so.

“Opt” is the key word here. New teachers and those with only bachelor’s degrees are automatically enrolled in the program — defined in a new salary guide — which pays up to $12,500 in yearly bonuses. (Mooney/NJSpotlight)


Power play: N.J., electricity suppliers clash over construction of new plants

The state Board of Public Utilities argues that rules proposed by the PJM Interconnection would make it nearly impossible to spur construction of new power plants, which state officials see as a way to increase reliability of the power grid while lowering energy costs for consumers and businesses.

 The filing, submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission late last month, is the latest twist in an ongoing battle pitting New Jersey and Maryland against the federal agency and the PJM over the states’ efforts to foster construction of new power plants. (Johnson/NJSpotlight)



Vanderbeek takes sole control of Devils, completes $78 million debt refinancing

New Jersey Devils managing partner Jeff Vanderbeek has taken sole ownership of the team after refinancing its approximately $78 million debt and buying out his partners’ 53 percent stake in the organization.

In the team’s announcement of the deal, Vanderbeek said the Devils’ “future is now secure, and we can be confident of continued on-ice success.” (Eder/NJBIZ)$78-million-debt-refinancing-


Hiring up in December, but analyst predicts it may be short lived

December private-sector employment data released today by Roseland-based Automatic Data Processing showed an unexpected bright spot in national hiring activity, as the U.S. economy added 215,000 jobs last month — though an economist doesn’t expect that upbeat pace to last through January.

“This number is strong, but I don’t think the trend for the level of job creation has improved … and I don’t think we’re out of the woods here yet,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, which co-authors the monthly report with ADP. “We’ve been getting about 150,000 new jobs per month fairly consistently over the past few years, and I think job creation will be around that number for the next few months ahead.” (Eder/NJBIZ)


Wildwood considers beach fees

WILDWOOD — One of New Jersey’s few free beaches might start charging.

Wildwood officials on Friday will consider whether to hold a special election in March to ask voters if they want beach fees. (AP)


FEMA consolidating its NJ offices

TRENTON — The Federal Emergency Management Agency is consolidating its Superstorm Sandy offices in New Jersey more than two months after the storm hit.

The agency is opening regional centers in Jersey City and Manahawkin on Monday. (AP)


From the back room

Dems say avoiding gov. primary chief concern

County Democratic chairmen from across the state today agreed that avoiding a bloody primary in their bid to take back the governor’s office is paramount to their chances, according to a source familiar with the content of a conference call today.

The source said virtually of the participants on the call with State Democratic Chairman John Wisniewski agreed that a primary would force the party to spend needless money battling each other, while Gov. Chris Christie spends the remainder of the winter and spring touting his own accomplishments. (Isherwood/PolitickerNJ)


Sources: Walker poised to launch JC mayoral campaign

Ex-Seton Hall basketball star Jerry Walker is telling people he’s ready to run for mayor of Jersey City, sources tell

To this point it’s been a brutal two-man race between incumbent Jerry Healy and challenger Downtown City Councilman Steve Fulop. (PolitickerNJ)



Moran: The lone wolf congressman who won’t sign on Sandy aid

It was pure joy to watch an enraged Gov. Chris Christie go Jersey on House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday. And it was effective. An hour after the turbo-charged tirade, Boehner backpedaled his way to safety by giving in.

So maybe Christie should try the same stunt on one of Jersey’s own, U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett.  (Moran/Star-Ledger)

Morning News Digest: January 4, 2013