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In The Spotlight

Four former governors who opposed a new natural-gas pipeline project through the heart of the Pinelands have now come out against a controversial nominee to the Pinelands Commission. In a joint letter, Republican Govs. Thomas Kean and Christine Whitman and Democratic Govs. Brendan Byrne and James Florio urged the full Senate to withhold the confirmation of Robert Barr to replace Robert Jackson on the commission. Read more
NJ Spotlight Daily News

March 3, 2015

Four Former NJ Governors Move to Block Pinelands Panel Nomination
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Two Democrats and two Republicans draft letter to state Senate asking legislators to oppose confirmation of Robert Barr
Three Newark-Area Hospitals May Switch to Offering Only Outpatient Services
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
Two others would still be full-fledged facilities, with one becoming state-of-the-art regional medical center, if state adopts recommendations
Christie Pushes Ahead With Business-Tax Cuts, Racking Up $600M in Lost Revenue
John Reitmeyer | Budget
Next year’s budget calls for $660M more in business-tax breaks, despite depleted transportation fund and court-ordered pension payments
Explainer: Why Property Taxes Are So High . . . and Reform Efforts Fall Short
Colleen O'Dea | Explainer
Abundance of local governments and school districts, state mandates, and relatively little state funding are among biggest factors
Fine Print: Can Kean's Proposed Bill Bring Real Reform to Port Authority?
Meir Rinde | Politics, Transportation
Bill incorporates best of legislation vetoed by Christie and Cuomo, as well as suggestions from their Special Panel on the Port Authority
Despite Raucous Run-Up, Day One of PARCC Testing Was Mostly Uneventful
John Mooney | Education
Sharpen those pencils: NJ Spotlight continues its PARCC testing with several samples from the math test for third-graders
PSE&G Seeks to Spend $1.6B Bringing Natural-Gas Mains into 21st Century
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Utility's parent, PSEG, details plans to invest $13B over next five years at annual investor conference
Opinion: A Quirk in Language That Could Cost Thousands Their Health Coverage
Joel Cantor | Opinion
The Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell could destabilize the insurance marketplace not just in New Jersey but across the country
Agenda: State Board of Education Takes Up Teacher Preparation and Support
John Mooney | Education
Other topics to be tackled include criteria for linking student performance to teacher evaluations
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March 2, 2015

Administration Reportedly Settles $8.9B Exxon Lawsuit in a Hurry -- For Only $250M
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Critics claim that by settling natural-resources damages suit in current fiscal year, money can be diverted to closing budget gap
Should the State Offload Teacher Retirement Benefits Onto Local School Districts?
John Reitmeyer | Budget, Education
That’s one of the suggestions of Christie’s expert commission, but the big question is what happens to property taxes
The List: 10 Movers and Shakers Who Influence Energy Policy In New Jersey
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment, The List
Energy policy in New Jersey is a moving target, constantly being refined and reworked by individuals and agencies
Christie Refuses to Release Credit Card Records with Breakdown of Travel Costs
Mark Lagerkvist/New Jersey Watchdog | Politics
Governor’s office balks at releasing almost $800,000 in AmEx bills for state police security detail, citing security concerns
Helping New Jerseyans Get a Handle on How to Prevent, Manage Diabetes
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
Bill would fund education programs in the state, which has nation's third-highest rate of obese kids at future risk for disease
PARCC Tests in Language Arts, Math Start Today for Students in New Jersey
John Mooney | Education
Can you make the grade? Try a sample question from the 5th-grade language arts exam
Op-Ed: Why Some Parents in NJ Are Refusing High-Stakes Standardized Tests
Julie Borst | Opinion
Stopping kids from taking the exams doesn't just express a parent’s anxieties for kids, it also demonstrates concerns about the school system

February 27, 2015

Interactive Map: State-Aid Landscape Basically Unchanged, Frozen and Flat
Colleen O'Dea | Budget, Maps, Map of the Week
Funding to municipalities virtually unchanged for fifth straight year under Christie budget
After Linking Clinic-Funding Vetoes to Cost, Christie Now Claims ‘Pro-Life’ Motives
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
Following switch in rhetoric in front of conservative audience, governor draws fire from state Sen. Loretta Weinberg on women’s health and family planning
Cami Anderson Gets Another Year at Newark Helm -- Plus a Performance Bonus
John Mooney | Education
State senator assails 'terrible decision' while student leader vows more protests aimed at ousting superintendent
Another Budget Adjustment -- State Tax Collection Forecast off by $60M
John Reitmeyer | Budget
Administration’s overestimate brings midyear spending reductions to $343M -- and there’s still a $1.6B budget bullet out there
Energy Target for 2050: Get 80% of NJ’s Electricity from Renewable Sources
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Ambitious Assembly bill seen as laying groundwork for future legislators, different governor
Phone Line Offers Expert Advice to People Caring for Alzheimer’s Patients
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
Highland Park man among those who found support, advice through Care2Caregivers from Rutgers Behavioral Health Care
Conservative Radio Host Grills Christie on Common Core Flip-Flop
John Mooney | Education, Politics
Asked at CPAC gathering about controversial academic standards he once supported, governor says he now has ‘implementation regrets’

February 26, 2015

Christie Flips On Reason For Vetoing Planned Parenthood Funds
Matt Katz | Katz on Christie
Just in time for the 2016 Republican primaries, Gov. Christie is changing his explanation for a controversial policy decision he made as governor ...
Chris Christie Takes His Budget Pitch on the Road -- First Stop, Moorestown
John Reitmeyer | Budget
Governor makes it perfectly clear: The only thing wrong with the state’s finances is cost of public-employee benefits
Districts Get Official Word: State Aid Payments Frozen for Most Schools Next Year
John Mooney | Budget, Education
Some are glad that funds won’t be cut despite fiscal woes; others note than once again Christie isn’t complying with full-funding law
Administration, Lawmakers Could Clash Over Who Gets Open-Space Funding
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
As predicted by some environmentalists and legislators, various potential recipients are getting testy about how much money they’ll receive
New Emergency Alerts Would Help Find Missing NJ Residents with Disabilities
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
People with intellectual, developmental disabilities could be at risk if they wander away from family or caregivers
Poll: Chris Christie’s Budget Address – Empty Sound Bites or Real Solutions?
Polling
The governor says he can fix what ails New Jersey's finances – Does his message resonate or is it the same old story?
Op-Ed: The Power of a Simple Idea -- Helping NJ Students Start the Day Healthier
Margarethe P. Laurenzi | Opinion
Serve students the most important meal of the day after the school bell rings, when they are already at their desks
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