NJ Politics Digest: NJ Transit Raids Its Capital Fund — Again

Roundup of daily news.

The debate over N.J.’s underfunded railways intensifies after second derailment in a year. File photo

As commuters maneuver two-months of maintenance at New York Penn Station, New Jersey Transit is dipping into its capital account again to plug a budget hole.

The state agency plans to raid a record $505 million from its upkeep and improvement fund to pay for day-to-day expenses in fiscal 2018. NJ Transit has now drawn $3.4 billion from the capital account since Gov. Chris Christie took office, according to Bloomberg, even as riders of the rail system have dealt with delays and, more recently, derailments.

But it’s not all bad news on the commuter front. The so-called “summer of hell” hasn’t been so bad so far. And Amtrak says the track and switch renewal at Penn Station is ahead of schedule after one week of work.

President Donald Trump was in New Jersey this weekend to watch — and tweet about — the U.S. Women’s Open Championship at his Bedminster golf course. Protestors descended there too.

And lawmakers are still railing against the Christie administration for borrowing $300 million to renovate the state house without public input. The state put out a request for proposals for a finance company to sell the bonds four months before the project was approved.

Quote of the Day: “It was designed to be a rigged deal from Day 1,” – Assemblyman John Wisniewski, on how the Christie administration sold bonds for the $300-million state house renovation project.

N.J. Transit Stages Record Raid on Capital Account to Pay Bills
New Jersey Transit is using a record $505 million earmarked for maintenance and other capital improvements to plug a hole in its operating budget through mid-2018, continuing the years-long practice of raiding that fund to pay for day-to-day expenses.
Bloomberg Read more

Amtrak: Penn Station ‘summer of hell’ work ahead of schedule
Amtrak’s disruptive work on Manhattan’s Penn Station, dubbed the “summer of hell” by the governors of New York and New Jersey, is running slightly ahead of schedule after the project’s first week, the railroad said Friday.
Politico Read more

Lawmakers: Public cut out of Christie’s $300M renovation
Gov. Chris Christie’s administration sought to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to renovate New Jersey’s deteriorating statehouse four months before the project was authorized, cutting out the public in a process a bipartisan group of lawmakers describe as “rigged,” according to interviews and documents.
Associated Press Read more

Here’s 12 Potential Sponsors of the NJ Gubernatorial Debates
New Jersey’s election watchdog agency will consider a dozen applications on Tuesday and choose three sponsors for this fall’s gubernatorial general election debates.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Frelinghuysen Has Almost $1 Million in His Campaign Accounts
While Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11) may be facing increased pressure from Democrats who have set their sites on his affluent, suburban district, it doesn’t seem to have impacted the incumbent’s fundraising.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Christie-chaired opioid commission misses deadline for second time
The national opioid commission chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is pushing back the release of an interim report for a second time.
Politico Read more

This may be the last action of Christie’s presidential campaign
Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign committee is preparing to close its doors, having paid off its debts, Federal Election Commission filings show.
NJ.com Read more

Protesters descend on Trump’s Bedminster golf course at the U.S. Open
Most protests of President Trump this week have taken place far from the grounds of his Bedminster golf course, which is hosting the U.S. Women’s Open Championship.
The Record Read more

Trump triggers flood of Democratic candidates
In New Jersey, Democrats — sometimes hard pressed to find candidates willing to take on entrenched Republican incumbents — also have a glut of willing challengers this year in two of its five Republican-held districts.
Politico Read more

How Trump profited off fundraiser for N.J. congressman
Rep. Tom MacArthur and the Republican Party weren’t the only beneficiaries of the fundraiser President Donald Trump hosted at his Bedminster golf club last month.
NJ.com Read more

Meet the man who sparred with MacArthur and became a YouTube star
Geoff Ginter speaks in a theatrical simmer, building up steam and almost but not quite boiling over.
Inquirer Read more

Ex-governors kick sand on Guadagno’s proposed sale of Christie beach house
Selling it might not be so easy to do, given that the State of New Jersey purchased the 2,694-acre Phipps estate in 1953 and made it a state park. Former Gov. Christie Whitman made the same proposal when she was campaigning in 1993, but then ran into the hard legal reality of how hard it is to dislodge a lodging from the state park system.
NJ.com Read more

The oddest, most absurd and comical gifts Christie has received as governor
Forget about the State Police detail, access to the governor’s mansion and that now-famous beach house. No need to mention the state helicopter, or that they close down tunnel crossings into New York City when he crosses the river.
NJ.com Read more

New Jerseyans, not surprisingly, rank high in annual lottery ticket buys, study finds
A new study about the lottery-playing habits of Americans has yielded some surprising results – none more so than the estimated average spending per resident.
The Record Read more

EDITORIAL: Uphill climb for Guadagno
Yes, party labels do matter. And, in the case of Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who is seeking to succeed Chris Christie as governor, being a Republican in New Jersey these days is pretty much a curse.
Asbury Park Press Read more

NJ Politics Digest: NJ Transit Raids Its Capital Fund — Again