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In The Spotlight

Plans to build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River a major boost earlier this month when state and federal officials announced a commitment to evenly share costs that could reach $20 billion. But now comes the hard part: Figuring out how to come up with the money. A report last week by Moody’s Investors Service offered some sobering facts about New Jersey’s ability to help fund the tunnel project. But the report also offered a glimpse at how New Jersey could eventually afford its $5 billion share by the time a new tunnel is ready to open in about a decade. Read more
NJ Spotlight Daily News

November 30, 2015

New Jersey Preschools Struggle To Reach the Kids They’re Meant to Teach
Meir Rinde | Education
Will cuts to school funding dismantle what is arguably the best pre-K program in the United States?
New Jersey Steers Clear of New Initiative to Reduce Transportation Pollution
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Despite participation of five states in region, state DEP dismisses program, claiming it will increase costs for motorists
How Will Cash-Strapped NJ Pay Its Share of Gateway Rail-Tunnel Project?
John Reitmeyer | Transportation
Sobering report on state’s finances by credit-rating agency nevertheless suggests possible financing scenario down the road
The List: Miles of Pavement Per Person Determine Lowest Road-Repair Costs
Colleen O'Dea | The List
Small communities with plenty of residents and workers typically end up spending significantly less on keeping local roads in shape
Helping Parents Make Informed Choices About Down Syndrome Babies
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
Bill would require providing information about developmental outcomes, treatments, support services
Fine Print: Assembly May Be Close to Making Decision on School-Recess Bill
John Mooney | Education
Lower chamber nears final vote on measure that would mandate 20 minutes minimum of recess in elementary school
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November 25, 2015

Lottery’s Been No Jackpot for New Jersey Since Private Contractor Took Over
John Reitmeyer | More Issues, Politics
Senate panel wonders why sales are up but revenues are down; lottery officials and private vendor blame decline in popularity of big-bucks multistate games
DEP Releases Report on Opening Liberty State Park to Developers
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Among the options being considered: hotel, amphitheater, amusement park, restaurant, indoor sports arena, and marina
Growing Role Seen for Local Health Officers in Fostering Community Health
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
New health commissioner foresees more collaboration with hospitals and doctors in community wellness initiatives
For Hopeful Seniors, PARCC Scores Could Complicate Graduation Plans
John Mooney | Education
A low score on PARCC exams won’t cost students their diplomas, but it will shunt them into a world of options and alternative tests
Longtime Advocate’s Mission: Keeping the Ocean and NJ Coastline Clean
Tom Johnson | Profiles
Cindy Zipf, the full-time coordinator of Clean Ocean Action, says that the Jersey Shore is in her DNA
Work Without Wages: Helping Immigrants Fight Unscrupulous Bosses
Hank Kalet | Social
New Labor advocates for workers and lobbies local governments to pass ordinances preventing wage theft. It’s taking its fight to the state government as well

November 24, 2015

PSE&G Credit Means Lower Heating Bills for Customers in Cold Months
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Credit -- the fourth in as many years -- will cut typical residential bills by about 30 percent
Doctors, Hospitals Still Oppose Revised Bill to Limit Out-of-Network Charges
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
Opponents argue that legislation gives insurance companies far too much power when negotiating prices
Explainer: Looking at PARCC, As Much-Debated Testing Enters Second Year
John Mooney | Explainer
NJ students taking the online exams this year will do it in single testing period, rather than two separate sessions
NJ Gains 16,100 Jobs in October, but Unemployment Still Outpaces U.S. Average
John Reitmeyer | More Issues
Strong job growth for past three months, with nearly 40,000 going back to work, more than offsets losses over summer
Video: Ex-Governor, Senator Discuss Worsening Plight of New Jersey’s ‘Working Poor’
John Mooney | More Issues
United Way leads forum, seeks to help those who just don’t earn enough to support themselves in increasingly expensive state
Op-Ed: Hold Charter Schools to Same Standards as District Schools
Susan Cauldwell | Opinion
Lax standards for charter schools shortchange students, parents, taxpayers -- and the schools themselves

November 23, 2015

Putting the Garden State's Pre-K Education Programs in Perspective
Meir Rinde | Education
New Jersey has a multiplicity of educational offerings for preschoolers; some deliver top quality, others are mediocre at best
Draft Energy Master Plan Credits Lower Prices on Increased Use of Natural Gas
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Environmentalists disappointed that plan doesn’t boost renewable-energy goals, dismisses offshore wind outright
Former Gov. Kean Disturbed by Politicians' Rhetoric About Syrian Refugees
John Mooney | Politics
American Muslims are ‘our best friends’ says Kean, who once served as co-chair of national commission on September 11th attacks
Morristown Medical Center Ruling Leaves Assessors with Property-Tax Headache
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
With few guideposts to go by, municipal tax assessors try to determine what local nonprofit hospitals are worth
Property Owners in Three Towns May Soon Be Facing State-Ordered Revaluations
John Reitmeyer | More Issues
Jersey City, Elizabeth and Dunellen assessments haven’t been updated in decades; values assigned for tax purposes are tiny percentage of true value
The List: NJ Hospitals with the Most Commercially Insured Patients
Andrew Kitchenman | The List
In healthcare finances, wealthier ‘payer mix’ is a key to hospitals’ stability
New Education Reform Group Ready to Go Public, Targets Parental Involvement
John Mooney | Education
Funding comes from charter school organization, while supporters include U.S. senator and two prominent state senators

November 20, 2015

Seventeen ‘Tier 2’ Hospitals Go to Court to Block Horizon’s OMNIA Plans
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
Former chief of state Department of Banking and Insurance leads plaintiff action against his former agency
Interactive Map: Many in NJ are Foreign-Born -- But Few of Them Are Refugees
Colleen O'Dea | Maps, Map of the Week
In the past five years, New Jersey has sheltered fewer than 2,500 refugees, some 10 percent from Syria, Iran, and Sudan -- and only after they were diligently vetted
State Lawmakers Tout Public-Private Partnerships as Way to Revive Cities
John Reitmeyer | More Issues
Redevelopment initiatives in downtown New Brunswick and at College of NJ touted as model for Atlantic City
Coalition Hopes to Pressure Christie Administration Into Releasing New Water Plan
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Concerned that current plan is 20 years out-of-date, group wants governor’s office to publish plan it’s been sitting on for a year
New Law Being Hashed Out by D.C. Lawmakers May Have Big Impact on NJ Schools
John Mooney | Education
Replacement for No Child Left Behind Act would give states more leeway in determining standards and developing own testing
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