Morning News Digest: May 23, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Administration projects revenue shortfall of $676 million
The administration is projecting a revenue shortfall of $676 million through Fiscal Year 2013, a little over half the revenue miss of $1.3 billion predicted earlier today by the Office of Legislative Services.
According to an administration source with knowledge of the revenue projections, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon Eristoff will present plans to close the gap before the Assembly Budget Committee Wednesday.
The revenue shortfall for the two fiscal years amounts to about 1 percent of the overall budget, the source stressed. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Stack arrives in Passaic with Pascrell Team reinforcements
It doesn't look like Union City on the eve of election.
Pre-election in that place, nearly every establishment on Bergenline Avenue has a prominently displayed smiling face of Mayor Brian P. Stack in the window.
Those that don't usually have an owner inside who gets a phone call and a voice on the other end that says, "What's the matter, you're not happy?" (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Governor’s office fires back at Senate Dems over Harris comments
Gov. Chris Christie’s office fired back at Senate Democrats today for implying the governor’s Supreme Court nominee’s lack of courtroom experience may be a focal point of the man’s confirmation hearing.
Senate Democrats said earlier in the week that Bruce Harris may face a brief hearing next week because “there’s just not a lot of experience to question him on,” said Sen. Nicholas Scutari, (D-22), Linden, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Arco, PolitickerNJ)
Internal poll shows CD-9 a dead heat
A new poll commissioned by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell shows the 9th Congressional District primary a virtual dead heat.
An outline of the poll, obtained by PolitickerNJ, gives U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman 43.8 percent of the vote to Pascrell’s 43.3 percent. An additional 12.9 percent of those polled are undecided.
The survey conducted by Democratic pollster Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group polled 406 likely Democratic primary voters. Of those polled, 56 percent were from Bergen County, 33 percent from Passaic County and 11 percent from Hudson County, which according to the memo, mirrors past primary turnouts. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Gov. Christie helps Mitt Romney add $5M to campaign coffers at N.Y.C. fundraiser
Gov. Chris Christie helped Mitt Romney raise $5 million at a fundraiser in New York City tonight as part of a tri-state swing expected to bring in $15 million for the GOP presumptive presidential nominee's campaign.
The Grant Hyatt event was hosted by Paul Singer, the billionaire hedge fund manager who was part of an effort to draft Christie into the presidential race and accompanied the Republican governor, his family and senior staff on a trip to Israel last month.
Christie, who arrived late with his wife Mary Pat, told the crowd he was persuaded to support Romney while in New Hampshire for “one of those interminable presidential debates." (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
NJ Democratic committee head criticizes Christie on travel and support for Romney
Governor Christie’s appearance Tuesday night at a New York City fundraiser for Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, provided more ammunition for Democrats who have criticized Christie for his out-of-state travel.
The event, at the Grand Hyatt New York hotel near Grand Central Terminal, followed Christie’s appearances on Friday night at a fundraiser for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia and as the keynote speaker at the Republican Party of Kentucky’s Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday night. (Hayes, The Record)
U.S. Congressional Race: District 1
New Jersey’s 1st Congressional District is reliably Democratic, so the winner of the June primary will be the clear favorite to win in November.
For the last 20 years, that winner has been U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews of Haddon Heights. This time around, his primary challenger is Francis Tenaglio of Haddon Township. And he’s facing a Federal Elections Commission investigation into a complaint charging him with misuse of campaign funds.
The South Jersey Democratic establishment is not too worried about the challenge. (Nurin, NJ Spotlight)
U.S. Congressional Race: District 2
The 2nd Congressional District is New Jersey’s largest district. It is also among the state’s most diverse, including both the state’s poorest county, Cumberland, and some of its toniest seaside resorts.
So it seems appropriate that the district is one of only three in the state in which both parties have contested primaries. Mike Assad is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo on the Republican side, while Democrats Viola Hughes, Cassandra Shober and Gary Stein vie for their party’s nod. (Nurin, NJ Spotlight)
U.S. Congressional Race: District 9
In New Jersey’s 9th District, there’s a rabbi running for Congress who wrote a book called “Kosher Sex.” He also lives next door to Muammar el-Qaddafi’s Englewood estate and once served as Michael Jackson’s spiritual adviser.
Somehow, even with that background, Shmuley Boteach, has flown below the New Jersey media’s political radar screen. That’s because he’s seeking the Republican nomination in a district dominated by the bruising battle between Democratic incumbents Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman. (Mallnconico, NJ Spotlight)
National pro-choice group backs Steve Rothman
A national abortion rights advocacy group has endorsed Rep. Steve Rothman in his Democratic primary battle with Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. in the redrawn 9th Congressional District.
NARAL Pro-Choice America (formerly known as the National Abortion Rights Action League) stated on Monday that Rothman has a “perfect pro-choice record” while taking issue with 21 votes that Pascrell has taken on abortion-related legislation the last 16 years. (Ensslin, The Record)
Newark set to compete for more Race to the Top money
Race to the Top, the signature federal program funding education changes in more than 20 states, will next be directing its money to individual districts.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan yesterday announced a new contest for more than $400 million that will be made available for school systems, with Newark already saying it will apply.
Meanwhile, New Jersey’s own state education department is beginning to decide how it will distribute another $18.7 million in previously secured Race to the Top money to scores more districts. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
As need for volunteer MDs rises, waiving malpractice insurance is reconsidered
Retired physicians who volunteer at community health centers, to care for the poor and uninsured, would be shielded from malpractice lawsuits under legislation being considered in Trenton.
Passage of the bills, A2178/S1165, would allow doctors to donate their time without also having to buy malpractice insurance, which can easily cost more than $100,000 a year. Advocates say their services are desperately needed in New Jersey’s poorest cities. (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
Panelists tout positives as survey shoes corporate concerns on regulations
While the state's top executives believe New Jersey is becoming a better place to expand and run a business, they still have major concerns about its regulatory climate, a panel of business leaders said today at an economic policy summit unveiling the results of a CEO survey by the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.
"A difference has been made almost overnight with the perception of New Jersey as a place to do business, but it takes a long time to turn structural issues around," said Michael Van Wagner, executive director of the New Jersey Business Action Center. "If you had interactions with the administration, your view on the regulatory environment would be more favorable than it was in the past two years. It has to be, because I see it every day." (Eder, NJBIZ)
N.J. state arts council gives $200K in grants to various projects
The New Jersey State Council on the Arts voted today to award up to $200,000 in six grants to support ongoing projects for arts education, the Poetry Out Loud contest and the council’s own internship program. The funds represent the last of its annual $16 million budget.
The exact amount of the grants is unclear because the council voted to award two grants of undetermined amounts. Those awards will fund the council’s ongoing strategic plan, known as ArtsPlan NJ, and in-school residencies in Camden. (McGlone, The Star-Ledger)
State education chief again rejects Perth Amboy school board’s plea to dump superintendent
For the second time in a month, acting State Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf has rejected efforts by the Perth Amboy Board of Education to oust its schools superintendent.
In a letter dated May 18, Cerf denied a request by the school board that he reconsider his earlier decision to reinstate Janine Walker Caffrey. (Epstein and Haydon, The Star-Ledger)
NJ education officials take aim at bed bugs
New Jersey education officials hope to fend off “big headaches” from a tiny source: bed bugs.
The state has alerted district chiefs to a webinar titled “Bed Bugs Go to School.” The 90-minute program promises to teach them how to develop a “bed bug action plan” and avoid litigation from the itchy pests. (Brody, The Record)
Clean ocean initiative would strengthen bans on polluting coastal waters
Facing threats from ocean blasting for oil and gas off the coast, pollution, and unchecked development along the shore, the Clean Ocean Zone initiative would prohibit new ocean dumpsites and prevent new wastewater facilities from sluicing sewage into the ocean under a bill being pushed in Congress.
To help ramp up support for the measure, backers have organized the Tour for the Shore, a two-week trek in August from Cape May Point, New Jersey, to Montauk, New York. Some proponents will make the trip in an outrigger canoe; others will ride roadbikes. Events will be held along the route. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
In wake of key auction, BPU chief says more work to be done
The head of the Board of Public Utilities says there's still work to be done to improve the regional power market, even after a successful auction that will result in three new power plants in the state.
"The BPU will continue to seek improvements in the PJM market to deliver new capacity where it's needed most," said BPU President Robert M. Hanna, in a statement released Monday evening. PJM refers to the 13-state regional power grid New Jersey belongs to, which is operated by PJM Interconnection Inc. (Eder, NJBIZ)
In N.J., 2010 U.S. Census over-counts by 31,000 people
You may have 31,000 fewer neighbors than what was counted in the 2010 Census.
The U.S. Census Bureau today released results of a survey designed to check the accuracy of the last decennial survey. The report shows a slight net over-count of New Jersey residents, roughly a third of a percentage point of all people counted here in 2010.
The error is so slight in a state of more than 8 million that officials say it’s not statistically different than saying there was no error at all. (Sagara, The Star-Ledger)
N.J. foster children placed in homes with relatives more often than in other states, report says
A higher percentage of children in New Jersey’s foster care system are being placed with relatives and close friends than in nearly every other state, a report released today found.
About 35 percent of kids in New Jersey foster care are being raised by grandparents, aunts, uncles or close friends — which child advocates call "kinship families," according to the Annie E. Casey foundation report. (DeMarco, The Star-Ledger)
Bramnick, Greenwald both support permit extension bill
At today's Chamber of Commerce breakfast roundtable at the Forsgate Country Club, both Democratic Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, (D-6), of Voorhees, and Republican Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, (R-21), of Westfield, said that a permit extension bill is needed to help foster, or accelerate, business and economic growth the in the state. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Prieto bill would mandate monthly revenue reports
Assembly members introduced several bills, including one that would mandate prompt reporting every month of the status of state funds, particularly revenues. (Staff, State Street Wire)
Coutinho: Preparing for more revenue/budget bad news
While the Treasury Department’s revenue figures won’t be released until Wednesday morning, one Assembly Budget Committee member said this afternoon he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the figures are several hundred million dollars short of expectations. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Audit takes issue with retirees’ outstanding loan balances
An audit of the Division of Pensions and Benefits found that the Division can do a better job of collecting outstanding loans.
The audit generally praised the Division, but found cause for concern with the practice of allowing workers who have at least three years in the pension system borrowing up to 50 percent of their pension contributions. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Report: Three running for mayor of Paterson
Former Paterson Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres will run for mayor in 2014, according to a report today in the Alternative Press.
An ally of U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell's, Torres as a two-time incumbent lost to Jeff Jones in the 2010 mayor's election. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Hudson back drama spills out of Union City kickoff
Unveiled at his campaign kickoff as a lovable guy with all kinds of warm and fuzzy potential, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez wasn’t long afterwards in sleeves-up beat down mode, according to party insiders.
Menendez allies said too few component pieces of the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) turned out for the event, envisioned as a Hudson County unity fest. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Condolences to Assemblyman Singleton and family
PolitickerNJ.com wishes heartfelt condolences to Assemblyman Troy Singleton, whose mother, Delores Singleton, has died. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
The New Jersey Health Benefit Exchange, what’s next?
Last week Governor Christie (Cantor for NJ Spotlight) (A2171/S1319), arguing that it is premature to move ahead with authorizing the exchange until the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the federal health reform law. Even if the Affordable Care Act is upheld in its entirety, this veto is unlikely to interfere with New Jersey’s ability to effectively meet its obligations under the health reform law.
Bain, suffering and Cory Booker’s emotional distress
Newark Mayor Cory Booker took a giant step toward the presidency on Sunday.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Booker called President Barack Obama’s advertisement criticizing Mitt Romney’s tenure at the private-equity firm Bain Capital LLC “nauseating.” His comment has been portrayed as a disagreement with the president over Obama’s ad strategy. What Booker was actually doing, however, was shoring up his base: Bain Capital and all those similarly situated firms that have supported him in the past and will, presumably, do so in the future if he ardently defends them. (Carlson, Bloomberg)
How Cory Booker won
Newark Mayor Cory Booker clearly misspoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday when he lumped attacks on former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital into the same category as attacks on President Obama’s connection to Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Booker has spent the last three days kind-of, sort-of walking those comments back, insisting that he never meant to conflate Bain and Wright while holding firm on his condemnation of the negative campaigning in both parties. (Cilliza, The Washington Post)
Cory booker has crossed the aisle before—on school reform
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, has been in the news for blasting President Obama’s campaign ads attacking Mitt Romney’s career with a private-equity firm and calling the tone of the presidential campaign “nauseating to me on both sides.”
This isn’t the first time that Booker has sided with Republicans over the leader of his own party. (Strauss, The Washington Post)
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"That's state money and the speaker has never raised an objection to that, and now all of a sudden she objects to her own bill. She's objecting on a basis she hasn't objected before on the TAG Grant program. Let's face it everybody, this is just politics. It's election year and it's politics." - Gov. Chris Christie, on Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34).- PolitickerNJ.com
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