Morning Digest: March 14, 2014

CD12: Buono stands with Watson Coleman in Middlesex

NORTH BRUNSWICK – They found each other fast in this small room in Middlesex County filled with people nursing Styrofoam cups of coffee and dog soldier dedication to the Democratic Party: last year’s losing nominee for governor Barbara Buono and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15), now a candidate for Congress.

The kiss. The hug.

The gestures held significance for the two women.

Watson Coleman stood by Buono last year when much of the rest of the party made like fast-footed evacuees at a Pamplona bull run.

Now Buono wants to make sure the voters in the 12th District know that Buono stands by Watson Coleman, who chaired her campaign last year, which went belly up amid Democratic Party strife gleefully fanned by a pre-Bridgegate saddled Gov. Chris Christie. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

CD12: Buono stands with Watson Coleman in Middlesex | Politicker NJ





Trenton Mayor’s race: Golden rolls out slate, says post-Mack city government needs to get “blown up”


TRENTON – Standing in his campaign headquarters on South Broad Street, Trenton mayoral candidate Jim Golden surveyed the local political landscape, one that was scorched by the legacy of former Mayor Tony Mack, now a convicted felon. 

And with his new council slate by his side, Golden looked out at both Trenton’s past and his present May election opponents. 

Then he dropped the bomb.

“Some have suggested to me that I just need to think outside the box when it comes to city government. My response? We need to blow up the box, and re-purpose it into a functioning, accountable and highly ethical city government,” Golden said to sustained applause. “When your house has termites, you don’t put new windows and siding on it. You rip it down to the foundation and start over. That’s exactly what we need to do with this city government.” 

The government of New Jersey’s capital city has reeled in recent weeks in the aftermath of Mack’s conviction on federal bribery and extortion charges and his subsequent removal earlier this month. (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Trenton Mayor’s race: Golden rolls out slate, says post-Mack city government needs to get “blown up” | Politicker NJ


Rible criticizes gun legislations


Assemblyman Republican Conference Leader David Rible (R-30) drew a bead on Assembly Democrats’ gun legislation, A-2006, which limits the capacity of bullets per mag from 15 to ten.

”The passage of this legislation does not make the citizens of this state any safer and could actually put people’s lives in danger,” said Rible, a former Wall cop. “In fact, limiting the capacity of gun magazines only serves to curtail the ability of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves, their families and their property. 

“If this measure were to become law, a victim who uses a 15-round magazine to defend themself or their loved ones from an attack could face more time in prison than the assailant.  Instead of targeting law abiding gun-owners, we should be targeting the criminals who flout our gun laws no matter how strict we make them or how steep the penalties we impose. While well-intentioned, this bill gives criminals another advantage over citizens who are slowly but steadily losing their right to protect themselves. If we are serious about addressing gun crimes, including mass shootings, we must address the serious mental health issues that have caused some deranged individuals to commit horrific crimes.” (PolitickerNJ)

Rible criticizes Democrats’ gun legislation | Politicker NJ




Housing advocates criticize Christie event GOP establishment’s favorite donates $25,000 as officials screen CD 3 candidates


Governor Christie‘s decision to hold a town-hall-style event in the place where the state’s affordable housing laws originated — as his administration continues to fight those very regulations in New Jersey’s top court — is drawing the ire of housing advocates.

As the Republican Party establishment’s favorite to replace U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3) in Congress was making plans to relocate to the district, the CD 3 hopeful was also opening up his checkbook to the county GOP.

Former Randolph Township Mayor Tom MacArthur donated more than $25,000 to the Ocean County Republican Committee in December, according to records. He made the donation a short time after announcing he was mulling a bid to replace Runyan, who declared only a month earlier his plans not to seek another term in Congress.

The donation came as officials in both counties were beginning to screen as many as 17 candidates who were vying to replace the outgoing congressman. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)

GOP establishment’s favorite donates $25,000 as officials screen CD 3 candidates | Politicker NJ




Lawmakers take testimony on Christie’s $34.4B budget during first public hearing

Funding for hospitals, transportation and schools, as well as a proposed tax on electronic cigarettes, were among the issues up for debate Wednesday during a state Assembly Budget Committee public hearing on Governor Christie’s $34.45 billion budget proposal.

The hearing was the first of many for state lawmakers evaluating Christie’s latest spending plan in advance of a July 1 constitutional deadline for a new state budget. 

Among those speaking to the committee during a daylong hearing at Montclair State University was David Peter Alan of the Lackawanna Coalition, a public transit advocacy group. He urged the committee members to reverse a planned cut in aid for New Jersey Transit.

“I’m here to talk about spending the limited amount of money we have wisely,” Alan said.


He also stressed the need for a new commuter rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Christie killed plans to build a new tunnel in 2010, using the funds instead to pay for statewide road and bridge improvements.

On the topic of education spending, Susan Caldwell of the group Save Our Schools New Jersey asked the lawmakers to consider increasing aid in the budget for local school districts up to the amount called for in the state’s school funding formula.

“That formula was adopted after a lengthy, bipartisan process,” she said. (Retimeyer/The Record) 





Is Record-High State Aid to Schools Really Just a Numbers Game?

Nonpartisan analysis shows districts getting less than total received in 2009-2010. 

n touting his proposed state budget for next year, Gov. Chris Christie is quick to say that New Jersey, under his watch, is providing more state aid to public schools than at any time in history.

But while that is true for the total aid package, a new analysis by nonpartisan legislative staff finds that four out of five school districts would continue to see less state aid under the new budget than what they received in 2009-2010, when Christie took office. (Mooney/NJSpotligt) 



New Jersey ex-governor Corzine’s son dies at 31

NEWARK — Former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine’s son has died. 

Corzine spokesman Steven Goldberg says 31-year-old Jeffrey Corzine had suffered from severe depression for years and killed himself Tuesday. Goldberg says he’d been receiving treatment for a painful physical and mental ailment and “made the tragic decision to take his own life.”

Goldberg said in a statement issued Thursday that the former governor is “devastated. 

Jeffrey Corzine was the youngest of the former politician’s three children with ex-wife Joanne Corzine. He often joined his father during the 2005 gubernatorial race and was by his side following a near-fatal 2009 car accident.

Jon Corzine was a Wall Street CEO before becoming a Democratic U.S. senator and governor 

Governor Christie has sent condolences on behalf of “all the people of New Jersey.” Christie defeated Corzine in 2009. (Associated Press/The Record)   



Newark mayoral candidates weigh in on potential state takeover

NEWARK — The two men who would be directly affected by a state takeover of Newark’s budget weighed in today on recent statements by state officials accusing the city of skirting state budget laws.

But mayoral candidates Ras Baraka and Shavar Jeffries struck markedly different tones in their reactions to the state’s threat to take over Newark’s finances.

Baraka, the South Ward Councilman who for years has railed against state control of Newark’s schools, said he would oppose a takeover, but admitted Newark’s budget needed critical attention.

“As mayor, I will abide by previous agreements between Newark and the Office of Local Government Services. I will follow their guidelines for best practices,” Baraka said in a statement, adding he would work closely with state officials to get Newark’s fiscal house in order. (Giambusso/Star-Ledger) 




From the Back Room


Condolensces to Governor Corzine from Gov. Christie and family

We would like to extend our deepest condolences to former Gov. Jon Corzine and his family on the death of his son Jeffrey.

Jeffrey Corzine, rest in peace. (PolitickerNJ)

Condolences to Gov. Corzine and family | Politicker NJ



Quintana wants lawmakers’ help in resisting state takeover of Newark budget

In his State of the City tonight, Newark Mayor Luis Quintana turned to the legislators in the audience and made it clear to them that he expects them to resist a state takeover of the city’s budget.

“The state doesn’t belong here,” the mayor said. “Remind them we don’t need them.”

Quintana was reacting to published reports of the State of New Jersey hinting at a takover of the city’s finances.

From The Star-Ledger’s David Giambusso, “Thomas Neff, director of the state’s Division of Local Government Services, said in a letter to Quintana that his division, at its meeting on Wednesday would soon begin discussing “the level of financial stress in Newark and Newark’s lack of compliance with certain budget laws.” (PolitickerNJ)

Quintana wants lawmakers’ help in resisting state takeover of Newark budget | Politicker NJ





State budget gap could cost N.J. for years

Governor Christie was in the Washington area last week, promoting fiscal prudence in a speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference. Back in New Jersey, his administration was hammering out a convoluted financial transaction that could cost more in the long run, but right now freed up millions of dollars to help close a state budget shortfall.

For Christie, a Republican who has talked repeatedly about spending discipline since taking office in early 2010, it was the latest move to help deal with a revenue gap the state constitution requires to be closed. Others have included de­laying property tax relief, raiding clean-|energy funds and breaking promises to rely less on new borrowing for transpor­tation projects.

Christie has said those things are necessary to make sure the state is able to cover debt service, to make payments into the public pension system and to increase aid to schools.

The revenue shortfalls — the current state budget had a gap estimated to be around $400 million before the governor announced a series of changes along with a new state spending plan last month — are not the result of declining state tax collections. Instead, the gaps have opened up because the growth in tax collections hasn’t lived up to spending increases Christie has authorized in his last three state budgets. 

That’s a top concern for lawmakers as they begin a new round of hearings this week on the Republican governor’s latest spending plan, a $34.45 billion budget that would set a record for state spending if approved unchanged later this year. (Reitmeyer/The Record)  

Morning Digest: March 14, 2014