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In The Spotlight

New Jersey enjoyed its best year for private-sector job growth in over a decade last year, and the state’s banking community is hopeful that will continue in 2016. But the state's bankers are feeling better about the national economy over the next six months than they are about New Jersey’s. Less than one out of every 10 members responding to the New Jersey Bankers Association’s annual survey said they’re expecting economic conditions in the state to weaken over the next six months, while roughly eight out of 10 expect conditions to generally stay the same. But only 12 percent graded New Jersey’s economic conditions as better than fair, compared to 40 percent for the national economy, Read more
NJ Spotlight Daily News

February 8, 2016

In the Shadow of Liberty: NJ Spotlight’s Year-Long Study of Immigration in NJ
NJ Spotlight Staff | More Issues
Help us crowdfund a multimedia assessment of the state’s culturally and politically diverse immigrant communities
Bankers Not Quite Bullish, But They’re More Optimistic About NJ Economic Outlook
John Reitmeyer | More Issues
Annual survey reflects more confidence in nation’s outlook than in state’s prospects, but overall picture seen as somewhat brighter
The List: What -- and Who -- Makes New Jersey a State of Many Nations?
Lee Keough | The List
A look at the 10 largest immigrant communities in the Garden State
Bridgegate Defendant Demands Release of Emails and Text Messages
WNYC | Politics
Baroni alleges Christie’s lawyers are illegally withholding key communications, including exchange between former Port Authority executive and governor’s ex-press secretary
Opinion: Let Flint Strike Sparks to Address Water-Supply Problems in NJ
Daniel J. Van Abs | Opinion
Flint is a failure of responsibility, ethics, and morality. Can the unacceptable happen to our water-supply systems?
Barnegat Bay Needs to Be Put on 'Pollution Diet' to Limit Runoff, Bill Argues
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Legislation in front of Assembly Committee would direct the DEP to again study Barnegat Bay, develop ways to clean up its waters
Court Rules Against Piscataway in Charter-School Tuition Challenge
John Mooney | Education
School district argued -- unsuccessfully -- that large budget surpluses at public charter schools should mean lower tuition for enrolled students
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February 5, 2016

Utilities Must Reduce Methane Leaks from Natural-Gas Pipelines, Says New Bill
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
One ongoing PSE&G initiative relies on mapping data collected by Google Street View car and Environmental Defense Fund
Democratic Lawmakers, Labor Advocates Push for Higher Minimum Wage
John Reitmeyer | Politics
Initiative to raise hourly wage of working poor to $15 could end up being decided by voters at the ballot box
Interactive Map: High Schools and Wealthier Districts Had Most Untested
Colleen O'Dea | Education, Maps, Map of the Week
However, state data does not show exactly how many students skipped PARCC specifically because of parental concerns
Finding Ways to Tame Epidemic of Opioid Addiction Plaguing New Jersey
Lilo H. Stainton | Healthcare
Health Committee hearing takes stock of successes so far while stressing that state is in for a long, expensive campaign
Democratic Lawmakers Look to Jump-Start Affordable Housing Construction
Colleen O'Dea | Housing
Program would create new class of tax credits to encourage developers to build in certain communities across the state
Op-Ed: We Need More Teacher Diversity In Our Urban Communities
Yasmine Veale | Opinion
It’s important that students have teachers and administrators who look like them so they feel inspired, relatable, and safe

February 4, 2016

Depleted Transportation Trust Fund Creates Fiscal Crisis for Municipalities
John Reitmeyer | Budget, Politics, Transportation
While lawmakers and administration bicker, mayors don't know how much to budget for road maintenance -- or where the money will come from
Statewide High-School Graduation Rate Increases to Nearly 90 Percent
John Mooney and Colleen O'Dea | Education
But socio-economic gaps remain and requirement of passing grade on PARCC to earn diploma looms on the horizon
Insurance Giant Defends Controversial OMNIA Plan in Response to 'Smear' Campaign
Lilo H. Stainton | Healthcare
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield takes legal action in response to claims by hospitals opposed to new tiered health plan
Two NJ Companies Extend Their Clean-Energy Holdings with Projects in PA and NC
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
PSEG Solar, NJR Clean Energy opt for solar installation, onshore wind farm to ramp up renewable-energy portfolio
Poll: Does New Jersey Really Need a Lieutenant Governor?
NJ Spotlight Staff | Polling
Ten years after the job was created, is it time to take another look at the position held by Christie’s second-in-command?
NJ’s Made Great Strides in Expanding High School Career-Readiness Offerings
Timothy McCorkell | Opinion
There’s a new awareness that innovative career and technical programs benefit all types of students, including those who are college-bound

February 3, 2016

State Goes Public with Results of First-Year PARCC Exam Scores
John Mooney and Colleen O'Dea | Education
As expected, the numbers show widespread falling off from earlier state tests; opt-out numbers are inconclusive
DEP Says ‘No Way’ to Rejoining RGGI; Dispute May Head to Court -- Again
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Legislature could force state agency to rescind rules that violate previously approved laws concerning greenhouse gases
Slight Hike in Tax Revenue Adds Up to Projected Surplus for State Coffers
John Reitmeyer | Budget
But slight budget cushion forecast for first six months of fiscal year may not be enough to justify dropping state’s estate tax
Profile: He’s a Self-Proclaimed ‘Policy Geek’ Who Advocates for Utilities
Tom Johnson | Profiles
Run the numbers, and Andrew Hendry works with 15 utilities that provide service to some 8 million accounts
Op-Ed: Time to Shed Some Light on Corporate-Backed Charters
John M. Abeigon | Opinion
Financial openness is just the beginning. Corporate-sponsored charter schools need to authenticate their undocumented successes

February 2, 2016

Add $10M to Budget to Fight Lead Poisoning in NJ’s Kids, Advocates Urge
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
More children with high blood-lead levels have been found in some of state’s older cities than in Flint, MI
Last Word on Bullying: Anti-Bullying Task Force Delivers Final Report
John Mooney | Education
Voluminous document includes numerous suggestions on how to improve implementation, calls for clearer definitions, more funding
New Jersey Postpartum Screening Policy Offers Roadmap for Other States
Lilo H. Stainton | Healthcare
Access to care after diagnosis still prompts concerns for women in NJ and in other states
While Governor Touts Gun Rights, Firearms Industry Has Little Impact on NJ Economy
John Reitmeyer | Politics
As candidate Christie makes it key issue in NH, report shows home state ranks near bottom nationwide in ‘gun industry dependency’
Proposed Natural-Gas Power Plant Runs Out of Gas in Face of Strong Opposition
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Genesis Power drops plan for Amwell Energy Center, which proved unpopular with locals and would have been built on a tract of open land in Hillsborough
Explainer: Tough Anti-Bullying Law Guides Schools in Dealing with Harassment
John Mooney | Explainer
Legislation enacted after Rutgers student’s suicide later spurred probe of violent hazing involving Sayerville football team
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