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In The Spotlight

While government in New Jersey seems to be short of funding at every turn, lobbyists of all kinds have no trouble finding big dollars to try to influence government decisions in the state. Last year, they spent $90.8 million to advance a variety of aims, most significantly on issues related to nuclear power and health insurance. Read more
NJ Spotlight Daily News

March 19, 2018

Giving State’s Vo-Techs the Space — and Seats — to Accommodate More Students
John Reitmeyer | Budget
Proposed bond issue would help vocational-technical schools deliver what New Jersey manufacturers need most, skilled workers that will help them flourish
The List: For These 10 Districts, More School Aid Still Means Much Less
Colleen O'Dea | The List
Gov. Murphy wants to boost school aid to most districts, but many would still get significantly less than they would if fully funded under state formula
Mapping Out Requirements for Tomorrow’s Energy Infrastructure
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Fundamental changes to ways electricity and gas will be delivered are in the offing, according to experts at NJ Spotlight roundtable
Annual County Health Rankings Highlight Racial Disparities
Lilo H. Stainton | Healthcare
Among the report’s more unsettling findings: Black babies were more than 40 percent more likely to die prematurely than their white counterparts
Camden SMART Initiative Revitalizes, Extends City’s Open Spaces
Camden SMART Initiative | Energy & Environment, Sponsored Content
Pristine new open spaces and reclaimed, refurbished neighborhood park system will help boost the health of city residents
Op-Ed: Charitable Deduction Would Help New Jersey Nonprofits
Hans Dekker | Opinion
We have a long and rich history of philanthropic giving, but new data shows New Jersey falling to last place among wealthy states for giving
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March 16, 2018

Murphy School Aid Plan Keeps Promises, Raises Questions
John Mooney | Education
The numbers aren’t set in stone, but districts have gotten a first look at state aid to public schools
NJ Solar Shows Slow Growth, Pace Slackens Nationally as Well
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Lawmakers, administration, and industry work to forge new financing mechanism that will be less of a burden on ratepayers
Murphy’s Healthcare Budget: Beyond the Headlines
Lilo H. Stainton | Healthcare
Where does the governor plan on putting the state’s money, and where does he plan on cutting back?
Appellate Court Rules Disgraced NJ Senator Will Be Stripped of Full Pension
Carly Sitrin | Politics
Court upholds earlier pension board decision denying former Sen. Wayne Bryant all of his $81,000 pension payout
Public Gets Say on Budget, but What Matters Most Is Murphy-Sweeney Dialogue
John Reitmeyer | Budget
Although Democrats control both the executive and legislative branches of NJ government, fate of first Murphy spending plan remains uncertain
Op-Ed: A Call to Restore the Courts’ Role in Addressing Sexual Misconduct
Charles A. Sullivan and Timothy P. Glynn | Opinion
Essentially, mandatory arbitration agreements strip plaintiffs of their right to a trial by jury
Judge Reduces Power of Newark Police Review Board
WNYC News | Social
Disappointed Mayor Ras Baraka vows to appeal ‘setback to criminal justice reform’

March 15, 2018

Thousands of Students from Hundreds of NJ Schools Protest Gun Violence
Carly Sitrin | More Issues
Using social-media savvy, young activists get the message out to peers, press, and politicians. And it won’t end here, they pledge
Murphy Diverts $136M in Clean-Energy Funds to Help Balance Budget
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Raiding Clean Energy Fund is nothing new, Christie and Democratic Legislature regularly did it in preceding administration
Day After Budget Address, Murphy Takes Spending Plan on the Road
John Reitmeyer | Budget
Democratic governor wants to get message across, his big budget means big gains for pension system, education, NJ Transit, and New Jerseyans — who will be getting more for their money
Pre-K Murphy’s Way: Educators Sound off on Governor’s Spending Plan
John Mooney | Education
At conference to mark 20th anniversary of Abbott v. Burke, talk turns to governor’s education budget and pledge to extend preschool statewide in four years
Murphy Backs Specific Fix for Problem in Out-of-Network Health Insurance Billing
Lilo H. Stainton | Healthcare
Governor gives surprise endorsement of two lawmakers’ effort to close major loophole, says it could save state tens of millions of dollars
Opinion: The First Murphy Budget — a Dicey Proposal
Richard F. Keevey | Opinion
A former budget director casts a skeptical eye on the governor’s proposed $37.4 billion budget, and finds much to be concerned about
Governor Makes Pitch for His Spending Blueprint
WNYC News | Budget
It’s all about ‘digging out’ of previous administration’s eight-year ‘gutting’ of government services, Murphy says

March 14, 2018

Murphy’s Proposed Budget, a Record $37.4B — and He Has Plans for All of It
John Reitmeyer | Budget
Governor’s budget message holds few surprise — except, perhaps, the total — but draws a cool response from his own party
Nuclear Subsidy Bill Re-Engineered as Three Separate Measures
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Nuclear power, clean energy, and offshore wind will each get dedicated bill, but all three will move together through the Legislature
No Let-Up on Marijuana for Governor Who Projects Millions in Revenues, Taxes
Carly Sitrin | More Issues
Murphy wants full legalization in New Jersey by January 2019 as lawmakers are still deep in the weeds over what that could entail
Murphy’s Education Budget: Some Pledges Redeemed, Some Deferred
John Mooney | Education
Murphy’s call for a $283 million increase in aid to public schools — to more than $9.6 billion — is the biggest bump in almost a decade
Opinion: After the Budget, Who Blinks First — Murphy or Sweeney?
Carl Golden | Opinion
Governor might be asking Legislature to enact too many tax increases. Meanwhile, where’s his path to compromise with Senate President?
Putting an End to Sick-Pay Accrual by Longtime Public Workers
Colleen O'Dea | More Issues
In effort to prevent county, municipal, and school workers from banking sick pay and cashing in at retirement, two Democratic senators propose an across-the-board cap of $15,000
In Healthcare, Murphy’s Budget Choices Emphasize Medicaid, Opioid Addiction
Lilo H. Stainton | Healthcare
Few details available on allocation of some money, and confusion about whether certain funding is really new
Crunching the Numbers
NJ Spotlight | Budget
John Reitmeyer, NJ Spotlight’s budget and public finance writer, discusses the implications of Gov. Phil Murphy’s first budget on NJTV

March 13, 2018

The Big Things to Watch for in Murphy’s Inaugural Budget
John Reitmeyer | Budget
New Jersey gets its first look at how governor plans to translate campaign promises into policies and spending priorities, as he issues his first state budget today
NJ Police Chiefs Oppose Legal Marijuana — No Good Test for It, Danger to Drivers
Carly Sitrin | More Issues
Marijuana use by drivers a major cause for concern along with lack of easy, reliable test to measure impairment
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