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Gov. Christie is losing campaign support from billionaire backers, but taxpayer-funded lawyers representing him in New Jersey legal controversies...
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In The Spotlight

Less than three years after advocates for a higher minimum wage convinced New Jersey voters to boost the pay of the state’s lowest-wage workers, a new battle over the income of the state’s working poor is brewing in the State House. And the issue looks as if it could again end up being decided by voters at the ballot box, just as it was in 2013 after Gov. Chris Christie rejected the last legislative effort to increase the minimum wage. The new push for a higher minimum wage, launched last week by Democratic lawmakers, labor advocates, and other activists, sets the goal at $15. That would add more than $6 to the current minimum wage of $8.38, a jump of 79 percent. Read more
NJ Spotlight Daily News

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
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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
Opinion: On Governing New Jersey -- It’s Time to Reform New Jersey’s Death Taxes
Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff and Charles Steindel | Opinion
The state’s death-tax structure is double trouble for residents, comprising the estate tax and the lesser-known transfer inheritance tax

February 1, 2016

Who’s the Governor of New Jersey When the Governor’s Out-of-Town?
John Reitmeyer | Politics
Guadagno’s frequent pinch-hitting role turns spotlight on second-in-command job created by a voters a decade ago
The List: New Jersey Schools with the Highest Percentage of Kids Living in Poverty
Colleen O'Dea | The List
Poor children grow up to be impoverished adults. Along the way they’re more likely to be sick, score low on standardized tests, experience violence, and ultimately drop out
How Will Christie’s New State School Standards Play in Iowa, New Jersey?
John Mooney | Education
Public has chance to be heard on new regulations, before state board votes, moves to implement
Power Auctions in Offing, Residential Prices Expected to Remain Flat
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
But large industrial users have ability to contain prices by playing competing suppliers against one another
Op-Ed: Ending Unfunded Mandates, a Partial Victory for NJ’s Property Taxpayers
Joseph Tempesta Jr. | Opinion
As we search for new ways to cut property taxes, spare a thought for the state-mandate state-pay constitutional amendment

January 29, 2016

Democrats Look to Close Corporate-Tax Loophole Used to Shield Profits
John Reitmeyer | Budget
Combined reporting requirement would prevent big firms from shifting income to states with lower tax rates
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