NJ Politics Digest: State Democrats Plan to Circumvent SALT Problem

The latest in New Jersey politics.

Phil Murphy.

Critics of the recently passed GOP federal tax plan, which limits the deduction people can take on their state and local taxes, have blasted it for being unfair to residents of high-tax states. Now Democrats in New Jersey are doing more than just talking. Gov.-elect Phil Murphy and other top Democrats say they have a plan that will give New Jersey residents a new deduction they can use to reduce their tax burden. The proposal would allow local and state governments to set up charitable “support funds,” for things like schools and infrastructure projects. Residents can contribute to these funds in exchange for a tax credit. These residents can then claim that “charitable contribution” as a deduction. The Internal Revenue Service had earlier allowed such programs in some states, including Alabama and California, so the scheme appears legal, though it’s unclear what action the IRS or Congress might take if all high-tax states pummeled by the new tax bill try to take advantage of it.

Expect a fight, too, as the Trump administration moves ahead with a plan announced last week to open up the Atlantic seaboard and other portions of the country’s coastline to offshore oil exploration and drilling. This is a fight that has bipartisan support among the state’s elected representatives, who say New Jersey’s economy would be hard hit by an offshore accident.

With little more than a week left in office, Gov. Chris Christie has given two high-profile interviews about his tenure leading the Garden State. The interviews in the Star-Ledger and the New York Times contain few surprises, with a defiant Christie defending his record, shrugging off his record-low approval ratings and predicting history will eventually vindicate his performance.

As the state returns to work following last week’s big snow storm, the lame-duck legislature will be back in session. One big bill likely to gain approval before Christie leaves on Jan. 16 is a package of tax credits designed to convince Amazon to locate its second headquarters in New Jersey.

Quote of the Day: “I took risks and the risks didn’t work out,” – Gov. Chris Christie on why his ratings sank to record lows.

New Jersey Legislature Moves Forward With Plan to Attract Amazon’s HQ2
A bill that could provide billions of dollars of state tax credits to Amazon if the company decides to locate its second headquarters in New Jersey cleared two legislative committees on Friday, paving the way for a vote in both houses of the Legislature next week.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Former NJ Governor Brendan Byrne Passes Away at 93
Former New Jersey Gov. Brendan Byrne, most known for the establishment of casino gambling in Atlantic City and his work to preserve the Pine Barrens region of the state, died on Thursday at the age of 93.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Winners and Losers: The Week of the Bomb Cyclone
This week, the east coast was hit by the first massive snow storm in 2018—dubbed a “bomb cyclone” by weather forecasters. That weather event forced Gov. Chris Christie to declare a state of emergency and postponed the session of the Legislature that was scheduled for Thursday, a blow to lame-duck Christie since bills that aren’t passed by the Senate and Assembly next week will get pushed to the next session, one that will be helmed by Governor-elect Phil Murphy.
Observer Staff Read more

Murphy, Other Top Dems Look to Offset Jersey Pain After Trump Gutted Property Tax Breaks
Democrats in New Jersey are working to make an end run around the new federal tax law passed by Republicans in Congress and signed by President Donald Trump that could hit New Jersey taxpayers especially hard.
NJ.com Read more

Atlantic Oil Drilling: Phil Murphy, Lawmakers Don’t Want It Off N.J.
President Donald Trump administration’s proposal to open the Atlantic Ocean to offshore oil and gas drilling threatens New Jersey’s economy and quality of life, lawmakers and the state’s incoming governor said Friday.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Christie on His Relationship With Trump (Great) and His Regrets (Few) as New Jersey’s Governor
In the last weeks of Chris Christie’s eight years as their governor, New Jersey’s residents have largely started to ignore him. But in Washington, the most powerful man in the country has sought his counsel.
New York Times Read more

Gov. Chris Christie Turns Up in Pages of the New Trump Book
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has turned up in the newly released book about President Donald Trump.
Associated Press Read more

Trump Considered Running as Christie’s Vice President, Insider Book Reveals
Long before Donald Trump smashed through the establishment to clinch the Republican Party presidential nomination, the reality-TV mogul had considered playing second fiddle as Chris Christie’s running mate.
NJ101.5 Read more


Christie’s Yearlong Opioid Advertising Campaign Tops $42M
Gov. Chris Christie’s yearlong opioid public advertising campaign “Reach NJ” will cost $42.6 million in taxpayer funds, though none of the money was directly allocated as part of annual budget negotiations with the state Legislature.
Politico Read more

As Nuclear Subsidy Bill Goes Down, Top Dems Ratchet Up Rhetoric
The fallout from the collapse of the nuclear subsidy bill yesterday reignited a long simmering feud between top legislative leaders, while threatening to muddy Gov.-elect Phil Murphy’s clean-energy agenda.
NJSpotlight Read more

Murphy Keeps 2 More Christie Officials in Cabinet
Gov.-elect Phil Murphy announced Friday he tapped two more top members of outgoing governor Chris Christie’s Cabinet to keep their posts after he takes over in on Jan. 16.
NJ.com Read more

NJ Voters Kicked Her Out, Republican Party Bosses Put Her Back In
After ending up in last place in November’s election, Republicans in Burlington County this week returned Linda Hughes to the same Freeholder Board that voters had removed her from.
NJ101.5 Read more

NJ Police Chief Got $143K Pension, $500k Payout—and Still Stole From the Poor
If the police motto is “to protect and serve,” former Police Chief Philip Zacche may have best served himself.
NJ101.5 Read more

10 Road Projects That Will Complicate N.J. Life in 2018
One of the state Department of Transportation’s top highway and bridge projects could cause more than two years worth of traffic jams for drivers traveling to and from the Lincoln Tunnel.
NJ.com Read more

Hasbrouck Heights Councilman Resigns
The Borough Council is expected to appoint someone to replace Peter Traina, who resigned from the council last month.
The Record Read more

Wyckoff Mayoral Study: Eliminate Deputy Mayor Post
A subcommittee tasked with exploring alternative methods of picking the township’s mayor has issued a report calling for three modifications–none of them involving a change in government or how the mayor is chosen.
The Record Read more

Rochelle Park Enters a New Democratic Era
The township entered a new era this weekend, as Democrats took overwhelming control of the governing body for the first time in decades.
The Record Read more

Secaucus Swears in Mayor, Council Members
Secaucus kicked off the new year by welcoming a new face—and some familiar ones—to the town council.
NJ.com Read more

EDITORIAL: Slap Brakes on N.J.’s Rising Auto Deaths
After years of trending downward, New Jersey traffic fatalities are moving in the wrong direction again. For the second straight year, auto-related deaths increased—by 5.6 percent in 2017. The 603 fatalities were the most since 2011. Over the past two years, fatalities are up 15.5 percent.
Asbury Park Press Read more

NJ Politics Digest: State Democrats Plan to Circumvent SALT Problem