NJ Politics Digest: Suggestions for Digging State Out of Its Fiscal Hole

Sweeney

Senate President Steve Sweeney. File photo.

New tolls, less-generous benefits for public employees and fewer small towns are some of the cost-saving measures being looked at by a group formed by Senate President Steve Sweeney to offer suggestions for dealing with the state’s heavy tax load.

The group’s suggestions were included in a draft document by the The Economic and Fiscal Policy Working Group that was obtained by NJ.com, according to a report on the site.

Sweeney’s staff, however, said not all suggestions included in the four-page document are likely to make it into the final report.

Sweeney formed the panel in February. At the time the senate president said the panel would evalute the impact of the new federal tax law on state economy and examine the state’s tax system and its spending.

The recommendations detailed in the NJ.com report include cost saving measures, such as moving public workers to a 401K-style system of retirement plans, raising the retirement age for some state employees to 67 and caps on pensionable salaries, the report said.

Another cost-saving suggestion is requiring municipalities with fewer than 5,000 residents to merge with another town, a plan that could impact about a third of the state’s municipalities.

The report also calls for generating new revenue, including putting new tolls on roads near the state’s borders and building, and tolling, high-occupancy vehicle lanes on the New Jersey Turnpike and other roads. Money from the tolls would go toward the state pension system, according to the NJ.com report.

Quote of the Day: “So it’s not a spending problem. We’ve got a priorities problem.” — Gov. Phil Murphy, pushing for more than $1.5 billion in new taxes to support his proposed budget.

The Case for Universal Representation in New Jersey’s Immigration Courts
The New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal think tank based in Trenton, has released a report analyzing the benefits of universal representation on immigrant families.
Jessica Sulima, Observer Read more

New NJ Toll Roads? Public Worker Benefit Cuts? Forcing Towns to Merge? It’s All Being Discussed
New Jersey public workers could see cuts to their health care and pensions, motorists could travel on more toll roads and towns could be forced to consolidate if lawmakers embrace recommendations being considered by a high-powered group formed by the state’s most powerful legislator.
NJ.com Read more

No School Funding Deal Without Permanent Tax Hikes, Murphy Says
Gov. Phil Murphy says the school-funding overhaul being advanced by the Legislature after months of negotiations with his office is “a very good path” forward – but isn’t sustainable unless lawmakers find a different plan for tax hikes.
NJ101.5 Read more

Murphy: Short-Term Taxes Jeopardize Long-Term NJ Transit Fix
Now that Democratic lawmakers have chosen to advance their own budget plan without the tax increases that Gov. Phil Murphy wants, the governor is finally stepping up efforts to sell his blueprint.
NJ101.5 Read more

New Jersey Shutdown: Here’s What Happens If State Government Does Close
Who could forget the iconic images of former Gov. Chris Christie lounging at a deserted Island Beach State Park last summer while the rest of New Jersey was kept out due to a government shutdown?
The Record Read more

Top Democrat Sweeney: ‘I Didn’t Enlist’ Christie in Budget Talks
Gov. Phil Murphy joked about it. State Senate President Stephen Sweeney continued to push back against it.
NJ.com Read more

Biggest Winners and Losers in Democrats’ School Aid Plan
More school districts would get more money under a competing school funding formula put forward by state Democratic lawmakers. Although many districts would also lose money.
NJ101.5 Read more

Sweeney: Tax Hikes Will Hurt Legislators in 2019
State Senate President Steve Sweeney on Tuesday acknowledged one of the underlying fears behind his and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin’s adamance on opposing the millionaires and sales tax hikes purposed by Gov. Phil Murphy—they could hurt legislators at the polls next year.
New Jersey Globe Read more

NJ Lawmakers Consider New Taxes on Hospitals To Fund Medicaid, Medical Education
State and county officials would have new power to tax New Jersey hospitals to generate additional revenue for low-income patient care and medical education under a pair of bills that emerged as part of a last-minute legislative flurry in Trenton.
NJSpotlight Read more

Legislature Offers Another Bill Based on Byrne-Healey Report in Effort to Increase Savings on Public-Sector Benefits
A bill introduced by the Legislature this week is the latest to follow a recommendation from a report commissioned by the state three years ago to study employee health and benefit plans and identify possible savings and reform.
ROI-NJ Read more

Murphy: I’m Glad Sweeney Got Reelected
Senate President Steve Sweeney and Gov. Phil Murphy have disagreed on a lot of things lately, but their latest disagreement is perhaps the most perverse—they can’t seem to see eye to eye on whether or not the governor is glad Sweeney won reelection last year.
New Jersey Globe Read more

New Jersey Agency Has Federal Contract to Shelter Migrant Children
An agency in South Jersey is among more than 100 across the country that have contracts with the federal government to provide shelter to immigrant children who have crossed the southwestern border.
The Record Read more

Springsteen Goes on Attack During Broadway Show, Calls Trump’s Immigration Policies ‘Inhumane’
For 146 straight shows on Broadway, Bruce Springsteen has stuck to a script, playing basically the same set each night at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York.
NJ.com Read more

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Former Newark Archbishop, Removed From Ministry Over Past Sex Abuse Allegations
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Newark and Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., has been removed from public ministry in the wake of allegations he abused a teen 50 years ago while serving as a priest in New York.
NJ.com Read more

Barclay Resigns From Assembly After Arrest on Assault Charges
A New Jersey assemblyman who was charged earlier this month with domestic violence has resigned his seat.
Politico Read more

Teary Owner of New Ocean Resort Said He Invested in Former Revel Without Ever Visiting Atlantic City
Bruce Deifik, who freed the failed $2 billion Revel casino from the eccentric grip of Glenn Straub, said Wednesday that he made his initial, refundable $10 million investment into the place without ever having visited Atlantic City.
Inquirer Read more

Brown Calls on Governor to Sign Order Keeping Casinos Open in Case of State Shutdown
State Sen. Chris Brown is calling on Gov. Phil Murphy to sign an executive order that would keep casinos and racetracks in New Jersey open in the event of a prolonged state shutdown.
Press of Atlantic City Read more

NJ One of the Safest States for Teen Drivers, Study Says
With teens getting their drivers licenses during the summer more than any other season, Wallethub has released its report on 2018’s “Best and Worst States for Teen Drivers.”
NJ101.5 Read more

Hoboken Mayor Censured for ‘Unethical’ Conduct by NJ Supreme Court
Mayor Ravi Bhalla was censured by the New Jersey Supreme Court last week after a disciplinary board chided him for not setting aside over $6,000 for a former employee’s retirement account between 2008 and 2009.
NJ.com Read more

College Cut One Job; Now Its Whole Police Academy’s in Jeopardy
The state agency that regulates police officer training has temporarily restricted course offerings at Essex County’s only public safety academy, raising concerns among the law enforcement community over the future of the academy.
NJ.com Read more

Wall Employee: Workers Left Nazi Propaganda on Desk, Called Him ‘Jewbacca’
The Township Committee has agreed to pay $1.25 million to a former employee who said co-workers repeatedly made anti-Semitic comments and placed Nazi literature on his desk.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Paterson to Pay Legal Fees for Council Members Accused by Publisher Sirrano Keith Baldeo
Municipal taxpayers will pick up the tab for $9,275 in legal fees incurred by City Council members while they were fending off criminal charges filed against them by a controversial newspaper publisher.
The Record Read more

Judge: Rockaway Township Councilman Can’t Sue Mayor Over ‘Lawful’ Health Benefits
A judge has dismissed a legal request by Councilman Tucker Kelley to sue the mayor along with one current and seven past council members for receiving taxpayer-funded health benefits for part-time positions.
Daily Record Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Suggestions for Digging State Out of Its Fiscal Hole