NJ Politics Digest: Christie, Cuomo Reach Deal on Funding Gateway

NJ Transit train. File photo

The governors of New Jersey and New York agreed Thursday to commit funding toward the proposed Gateway rail tunnel, covering half of the cost for the crucial infrastructure project.

The move by Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo puts pressure on the federal government to pay for the rest of the $12.7 billion Hudson tunnel project. But the funding plan quickly drew criticism from Governor-elect Phil Murphy and other Democrats because New Jersey would pay its share by raising fees on NJ Transit train riders.

In Trenton, lawmakers are fast-tracking a bill that would give some politicians bigger pensions. The bill seems tailored to benefit one well-connected politician, Camden Mayor Dana Redd, while rank-and-file public workers and retirees continue to deal with frozen cost-of-living adjustments and clipped pension benefits. A Senate committee advanced the bill without debate and an Assembly panel is scheduled to hear the bill on Monday.

Quote of the Day: “When my staffer went to go buy one, there was a line and the lady told us she has sold 800 of these at $10 a piece. So, I’m a job creator.” — Sen. Bob Menendez on the popular iron-on patch using his famous quote about Democrats trying to dig his political grave.

Senate Panel Quickly Passes Pension-Padding Bill for Politicians
A state Senate panel quickly advanced a bill that would give some elected officials bigger pensions, plowing through a vote Thursday in roughly one minute and without any debate or public testimony.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Proposed Legislation Could Extend Voting Rights to Convicted Criminals
State Sen. Ron Rice (D-Essex) on Thursday said he plans to introduce legislation next year that would allow convicted felons, those on probation, people on parole and incarcerated individuals to vote in elections, a bill that would dramatically alter current New Jersey law that prohibits those with criminal convictions from voting.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Rendo Will Endorse McCann in 5th District GOP Primary
The Republican primary contest is heating up in New Jersey’s 5th congressional district as candidates John McCann and Steve Lonegan roll out endorsements, each hoping to edge out the competition and lock up their party’s nomination and face Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer in November’s general election.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

How NJ Fails The Dead, Betrays the Living and is a National Disgrace
An 18-month NJ Advance Media investigation for NJ.com found serious failures at nearly every level of New Jersey’s patchwork system of medical examiner offices, the obscure agencies charged with one of the most fundamental tasks: figuring out how somebody died and why.
NJ.com Read more

NJ Transit says Hudson River rail tunnel fix will require 90 cent fare increase to New York
The governors of New Jersey and New York pledged 100 percent of their local share of funding for a $12.7 billion rail tunnel under the Hudson River, which would increase fares for NJ Transit passengers by 90 cents beginning in 2020.
The Record Read more

Murphy slams Christie’s Gateway fee proposal, stops short of saying he’ll spike plan
New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy on Thursday slammed a proposal by Gov. Chris Christie that would institute a new fee on NJ Transit commuters to pay for the state’s share of the Gateway rail tunnel, joining other Democrats in opposing the plan.
Politico Read more

Sen. Robert Menendez tells Justice Department, ‘If you want to prosecute, bring it on’
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) plans to take steps next month to force the Justice Department to decide whether to retry him on corruption charges if it has not done so by then — saying that public comments by jurors in his trial bolster his doubts about the government’s case.
Washington Post Read more

Is NJ Gov-elect Phil Murphy’s liberal agenda too much for his own party?
In a little more than a month, Gov. Christie will leave office and New Jersey will join a handful of states where Democrats control the governor’s mansion and the legislature
The Inquirer Read more

Phil Murphy has big plans for education, but can he deliver?
Phil Murphy has promised to invest heavily in education when he takes office as New Jersey’s next governor in January, laying out a liberal vision for fully funded schools and pensions and for free tuition at community colleges. He’s also pledged to undo current state testing requirements.
The Record Read more

N.J. Republican to lead investigation into lawmaker accused of sexual harassment
Rep. Leonard Lance has been tapped to lead an ethics investigation against a Texas lawmaker accused of sexual harassment.
NJ.com Read more

Throwing the Book at Coastal Flooding
New Jersey Future on Wednesday added another item to Gov.-elect Phil Murphy’s to do list: Devise a coordinated response to help the entire state coastline adapt to rising sea levels, eroding beaches, increased flooding, and climate change.
NJSpotlight Read more

Mulshine: Letter to Chris Christie represented a lapse in judgment for Phil Murphy
I was shocked – shocked! – when I witnessed the governor-elect, normally a master of cliches, mangle one at a press conference the other day.
NJ.com Read more

How hospitals are keeping NJ’s economy alive
A new report says hospitals in New Jersey collectively pour more than $23 billion dollars into the state’s economy annually.
NJ101.5 Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Christie, Cuomo Reach Deal on Funding Gateway