Close to $1 million — that’s what the Democratic State Committee raised for Gov. Phil Murphy’s January 16 inaugural, and it spent it all too. That figure pushed fund-raising and spending by the state’s “Big Six” political committees to a decade-long high, according to disclosure reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC); the Republican State Committee, along with the two parties’ Senate and Assembly committees make up the rest of the “Big Six.” Their total take for the first three months of this year was $1.9 million.
But the first quarter’s take “can’t mask the fact that overall party fundraising and spending has declined sharply since the early 2000s,” Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director, said. And there’s an urgency to reversing that slide, he said. In his view, “Reinvigorating parties is important because party committees are more accountable and transparent than many of the independent groups that now dominate state and national elections.” To that end, ELEC has made several recommendations — including a revamp of restrictions on “pay to play contributions” — that it hopes the governor and the Legislature will take up.
Somebody’s kissing the dice for New Jersey’s online gambling industry — because it’s on a hot streak. In March, the state’s online casinos generated $25.6 million in gross revenue. That was 16.3 percent more than February’s revenue figure ($21.99 million), and 17.6 percent better than in March 2017 ($21.7 million). In fact, the first three months of 2018 have brought online gambling’s three highest revenue totals since it was legalized and regulated in the Garden State in 2013. The figures come from the state’s monthly Internet Gross Revenue Report.
The Golden Nugget, which owns the Golden Nugget, Betfair, and SugarHouse online casino brands, was the highest roller in March, when it became the first online license holder to generate more than $8 million in a single month. It beat that figure comfortably, racking up $8.7 million in revenue. “The Golden Nugget has become a bellwether for New Jersey. As it goes, so goes the state's legal online gambling industry,” Steve Ruddock, lead analyst for PlayNJ.com, said.
New Jersey, a “blue” state, could become even bluer by the time the votes are tallied in the fall congressional elections. A new Monmouth University Poll gives Democrats a 19-point advantage over Republicans in a generic House ballot. If that held true in the elections, it could sweep all the state’s five Republican-held congressional seats into the Democratic column. In the poll, 54 percent of New Jersey’s registered voters said they would vote or lean toward voting for the Democratic candidate in their district compared with 35 percent favoring the Republican. One month ago, New Jersey voters favored Democrats over Republicans by a smaller margin — (50 percent-41 percent), the same polling organization found.
This latest poll suggests that President Donald Trump is the biggest drag on the Garden State’s GOP delegates’ prospects of returning to Washington, D.C. A scant 34 percent of voters approved of the president’s job performance compared with 61 percent who disapproved. He did somewhat better in the state’s GOP-held congressional districts (43 percent approved, 53 percent disapproved).
Another negative for voters was the GOP’s recently enacted federal tax reform (35 percent approved, 46 percent disapproved). This marks a bigger thumbs-down for the tax changes than the Monmouth poll registered last month among voters nationally (41 percent approved, 42 percent disapproved).
The latest poll numbers are “pretty astounding,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said. “Not only are New Jersey Democrats doing better on the generic House ballot statewide, but the shift is coming almost entirely from districts currently held by the GOP. If these results hold, we could be down to just one or two — or maybe even zero — Republican members in the state congressional delegation after November.”
New Jersey’s pension system is the worst funded in the nation, according to new research from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 2016, the most recent year for which comprehensive data is available, New Jersey had only $75 billion in assets to cover nearly $244 billion liabilities, resulting in a $168 billion shortfall. This is an almost $33 billion increase over 2015, when the state reported a $136 billion funding gap.
New Jersey contributed just 33 percent of the $9.6 billion necessary to pay down its debt in 2016, causing its individual funding gap to continue expanding.
Nationwide, state pension funds cumulatively reported a $1.4 trillion deficit in 2016. This represents a $295 billion jump from 2015 and the 15th annual increase in pension debt since 2000. Overall, state plans disclosed assets of just $2.6 trillion to cover total pension liabilities of $4 trillion.
Registered voters in New Jersey favor incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in his bid for re-election by 21 percentage points over his Republican challenger. Fifty-three percent say they favor Menendez while 32 percent say they would vote for Bob Hugin, a former pharmaceutical executive. And that’s even though Menendez also registers weak approval ratings, with only 37 percent of voters approving of the job he’s doing, 38 percent disapproving, and 25 percent having no opinion. The senator’s limp job-approval rating can be attributed in part to fallout from his recent corruption trial. The numbers are from the latest Monmouth University Poll.
The picture is far more lopsided when the poll gets into preference by party affiliation. Ninety-two percent of Democrats back Menendez and 84 percent of Republicans opt for Hugin. Among Independents, the split is 41 percent for Menendez and 33 percent for Hugin.
“Let’s be honest. It’s very unlikely that these results are predictive of the final margin on Election Day. New Jersey voters do not tune in to midterm elections until sometime in October and fewer than half of the voters we polled now will actually show up to vote then. However, the current state of the race does speak to what is perhaps the incumbent’s biggest strength: being a Democrat in a blue state in a year that is looking very good for Democrats,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said.
Newly elected Gov. Phil Murphy is starting out his tenure in good shape, according the latest Monmouth University Poll, with a 44 percent positive job rating. That’s markedly better than his two predecessors at the same point in their terms. Chris Christie held a slightly negative 41 percent approve to 44 percent disapprove rating in April 2010. Jon Corzine received a slightly negative 34 percent approve to 37 percent disapprove rating in April 2006, according to Monmouth polling.
Some 28 percent of 703 Garden State adults disapprove of the job Murphy is doing. Another 28 percent have no opinion. Nearly two-thirds of Democrats (65 percent) approve; 7 percent disapprove. Among Republicans, 17 percent approve while 59 percent disapprove. Among independents, 41 percent approve, and 33 percent disapprove of the governor’s performance to date.
Almost two-thirds of New Jersey residents (64 percent) gave a thumbs-down to state subsidies for PSEG’s nuclear plants. That’s according to a poll by the political consulting firm, Fifty One Percent. Eighteen percent of New Jersey residents said they support the subsidies while 18 percent were unsure about them. The poll is being highlighted by the anti-subsidy NJ Coalition for Fair Energy. The numbers for and against the state giving a financial hand to the nuclear power industry come in the same week that both houses of the state Legislature are expected to sign off on a bill that would subsidize three PSEG nuclear power plants for up to 10 years at a cost of $300 million annually.
The poll’s other main findings: A significant number of New Jerseyans said they were less likely to vote for a politician who in turn has voted for a subsidy bill (46 percent), while 10 percent said they were more likely to vote for such a politician; 26 percent said the politician’s vote on the issue would make no difference. Fifty-two percent of voters overall thought New Jersey's nuclear plants should close if they are not profitable — or should close whether they are profitable or not.
According to the latest research from the Center for Public Integrity, some 1.7 million employees in New Jersey (53 percent of the workforce) are toiling away for companies that don’t offer employment plans.
New Jersey is hardly alone in this situation; some states, like Oregon, are experimenting with state-run retirement plans. In fact, Garden State lawmakers in 2016 were poised to pass legislation with bipartisan support creating an Oregon-style auto-IRA program. But Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoed that plan and obtained agreement on legislation that instead creates a marketplace without the state’s direct involvement.
Newark will launch LinkNWK (pronounced Link Newark), a citywide network of kiosks that offer free public Wi-Fi and other digital services. It joins New York City, the United Kingdom, and Philadelphia as the fourth Link smart city program in the world.
The city will partner with Intersection to install the communications network of sidewalk kiosks that will provide residents and visitors free gigabit Wi-Fi, mobile device charging, phone calls to anywhere in the United States, access to municipal services, maps and directions, and realtime local information at no cost to taxpayers or users.
Advertising on Link display will pay for the service.
The program will run on Newark Fiber, the City’s public-private gigabit-data network
Adults in New Jersey are split over whether marijuana should be made legal for recreational use, but one in four say they would try it or use it if it were legal, according to a recent Stockton University poll.
According to the poll of 728 adult New Jersey residents, 49 percent support legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Forty-four percent oppose legalization, with 5 percent unsure.
Seventy-five percent say they do not currently use marijuana and would not even if it were legal.
Gov. Phil Murphy supported legalizing marijuana for people ages 21 and older during his gubernatorial campaign as a social-justice issue and as a way to raise an estimated $300 million in sales-tax revenues.
Medical marijuana is currently legal in the state.
Fifty percent of sexually active people will contract a sexually transmitted disease at some stage — and most won’t even know it. That unnerving nugget is being highlighted by Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central and Southern New Jersey (PPNCSNJ), as it encourages New Jerseyans to get tested for such diseases.
This is national STD Awareness Month. In concert with that campaign, the PPNCSNJ is hosting a Free STD Testing Week from April 16 to 21 at its 16 health centers. The organization provides free testing to people under the age of 24 as a matter of course, but during the special testing week will give free tests for HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia to people of any age. People who want to get tested will be accommodated during normal business hours that week.
The group is also planning other ways to heighten awareness of STDs and the importance of early treatment. One will involve Friday-night “condom crawls” through April at downtown bars and restaurants in places like Asbury Park, New Brunswick, and Princeton where volunteers will hand out “goody bags” of condoms along with STD-testing information.
The construction of new offshore wind farms in New Jersey and other coastal states could lead to more than 75,000 clean-energy jobs. That’s the estimate of a new report from the Center for American Progress and the New Jersey Work Environment Council.
“The state-level offshore wind requirements in place along the eastern seaboard totaled 4.5 gigawatts before Gov. Murphy’s 3.5-gigawatt commitment nearly doubled the sum in late January, note the authors of “Offshore Wind Means Blue-Collar Jobs for Coastal States.” And they suggest that “New Jersey’s electoral shift adds significant momentum to a burgeoning U.S. offshore wind industry, with major implications for the coastal state labor force.”
The potential for 75,000 jobs comes, they say, from the fact that in 2014, when 7.5 gigawatts of total generation capacity was achieved from offshore projects in the European Union, “The manufacture, installation, and maintenance of offshore wind facilities supported approximately 75,000 full-time-equivalent workers across the continent that year.”
New Jersey CPAs figure the best way to keep millennials in the Garden State is to reduce taxes, all taxes. According to the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJCPA), 34 percent of the accountants who took part in the society’s latest survey believe New Jersey’s high taxes contribute mightily to millennial outmigration, which lately has become a preoccupation for business interests in the state; millennials generally are categorized as those born between 1981 and 2000. The result was reinforced by the fact that 35 percent of millennials who took part in the survey also listed lowering taxes as their principal idea for persuading their peers to stay.
The CPAs’ other main suggestions for ways to entice younger folk not to abandon New Jersey include bringing more businesses to the state (16 percent) and building more affordable housing (14 percent). They also reprise the sorts of ideas that have long been discussed in the state: improving mass transit and decreasing its cost, making colleges more affordable, increasing technology jobs, creating more open space. But here’s one idea you might not have expected from the CPAs — legalizing marijuana for the business opportunities it could provide.
The Rutgers School of Public Health has been awarded a $345,587 grant from the National Cancer Institute. The grant will go towards researching the impact of advertising on tobacco usage and public health.
Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ-06) announced the award.
“The dangers of tobacco and its link to cancer are a well-known danger to our country’s public health and to our children,” said Pallone. “Rutgers is one of the leading research institutions in the world, and I know that its research on tobacco advertising and its impact will be indispensable and could even save lives.”
More than two-thirds (72 percent) of New Jersey high schoolers believe the minimum age to buy assault weapons should be raised to 21. An even greater percentage (77 percent) take the view that gun laws in the United States need to be stricter in general. The results come from a nationwide survey of 25,000 9-12th grade students on the subject of gun policy and school safety; more than 1,300 New Jersey students took part. (The survey was conducted by Newsela, an instruction-content platform for students and teachers.)
The results come, of course, in the tragic context of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL and the subsequent stream of marches for gun control across the country. One flashpoint of the debate unleashed by those events has been the arguments for or against arming teachers. The New Jersey students who responded to the survey came down heavily against that prospect, with 64 percent opposed to teachers being allowed to carry guns.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission is making $10 million in election security improvements available to the State of New Jersey.
The commission, created as a result of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2018, is administering federal grants through the 2018 Help America Vote Act Election Security Grant Program.
U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ-7) supported the fiscal year 2018 spending measure in part because of the funds made available for election security.
The purpose of a grant is to assist states improve the administration of elections, including enhancing election technology and upgrading election security in accordance with the bipartisan Help America Vote Act. Funding can be used for the following:
Replace voting equipment that only records a voter’s intent electronically with equipment that utilizes a voter-verified paper record;
implement a postelection audit system that provides a high level of confidence in the accuracy of the final vote tally;
upgrade election-related computer systems to address cyber vulnerabilities identified through the Department of Homeland Security or similar scans or assessments of existing election systems;
facilitate cybersecurity training for the state’s chief election official’s office and local election officials; and
implement cybersecurity best practices for election systems and other activities that will improve the security of elections for federal office.
The Omnibus Appropriations Act makes $9,757,451 available to the state of New Jersey. Completion of the grant package will go through the office of the New Jersey Secretary of State.
According to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates released last week, nine of New Jersey's 21 counties lost population between 2016 and 2017. All nine of these counties also lost population in the previous year (from 2015 to 2016), although in most cases the 2016-2017 loss was smaller. Only Cumberland County lost more people from 2016 to 2017 than it had from 2015 to 2016.
"The state's more urban counties are generally faring much better than the exurban ones, as has been the case since the Great Recession of 2008," said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach. "While Ocean County was the fastest-growing county this year, as it was last year, the next five top positions are all held by counties of the North Jersey urban core, all of which grew faster than the statewide growth rate of 0.3 percent.
"This is further evidence of a move to, or back to, more compact walkable places with existing infrastructure and vibrant downtowns," Kasabach continued. "These places are reaping the benefits of accelerated economic growth, and counties that are helping to support this trend are benefiting as well."
Hudson County hit a milestone as of 2017 — with its current population estimate sitting at 691,643. It has now surpassed its previous population peak of 690,730, which it had achieved in 1930. The county has gained back all of the population it lost during the era of suburbanization and de-industrialization, after falling to a low of 553,099 in 1990. Union County also earlier this decade surpassed its previous population peak, which it had achieved in 1971.
The New Jersey counties losing population over the past year include all of the counties that are farthest from the state's two core urban areas: Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem in the south, and Sussex, Warren and Hunterdon in the north. These northern counties represent the formerly fast-growing exurban fringe of the New York metro area, now faltering as millennials increasingly opt for more walkable urban areas.
According to previous legislative proposals to address this most common – but still rare – bleeding disorder, some 800 men suffer from hemophilia. The disease is attached to the X chromosome, making males more vulnerable. Nationwide, 1 in 5,000 male infants are born with the most common form of the disease, one of several in which the blood does not properly clot, leaving the individual vulnerable to hemorrhaging and other issues.
On Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a resolution that designates March as “Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month” in an effort to increase awareness and understanding about these diseases and create a greater sense of community for those who suffer. The resolution was sponsored by Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Mercer) and Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), who has worked for more than a decade to expand care for these conditions.
Census data out Thursday for 2017 finally puts New Jersey’s population over the 9 million mark. We’ve been hovering around 8.9 million for the past four years. Total population is 9,005,644 (estimated). That's 2.4 percent higher than the 2010 estimate and 0.3 percent more than the 2016 count.
Growth is not uniform. Nine counties lost population since 2010 (Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Hunterdon, Monmouth, Salem, Sussex, Warren); six of those lost from 2016 to 2017 (Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Monmouth, Salem, Sussex). The greatest growth was in Hudson County, which was up 9 percent since 2010, with Union second at 5.1 percent, and Bergen third with 4.8 percent.
The new governor is a big fan of the word “innovation,” which makes the results of the latest WalletHub ranking of the most and least innovative states particularly germane. The Garden State takes 11th place (for all 50 states and the District of Columbia), which includes a fifth-place finish for highest share of technology companies.
A state’s overall score is the weighted average of 22 metrics, which fall into two categories: human capital and innovation environment.
New Jersey does well with human capital, earning a 10. This category includes share of STEM professionals, projected STEM job-demand by 2020, and percent of graduating seniors who take AP exams (among other metrics).
Where New Jersey falls down — and this ranking is worrisome — is its score of 17 for innovation environment. The category includes business churn, jobs in new companies, inbound migration, and (inevitably) tax friendliness (again, among other metrics).
If New Jersey is going to become a national hub for innovation, it has some work cut out for it.
Two horses in Union County have been quarantined by the state Department of Agriculture after they developed the highly infectious equine herpes myeloencephalopathy, EHM — which is the often deadly neurologic form of the equine herpes virus, EHV-1. They’re the first reported cases in New Jersey in 2018. The animals are on the same property and are being kept in an isolation barn there, while the entire property remains under quarantine. The Department of Agriculture says that, because no horses have moved onto or off the property in several weeks, exposure to horses outside the area is considered unlikely.
EHM is a reportable disease in New Jersey. Clinical signs in horses infected with it typically include mild incoordination, hind-end weakness or paralysis, loss of bladder and tail function, and loss of sensation to the skin in the hind end. The problem is these symptoms are common to many other diseases. The Department of Agriculture advises concerned owners to consult with their veterinarian before taking any action.
The NJDA Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory tests for EHM. There's more information available online; people can also call 609-406-6999.
The virus does not affect humans and other domestic animals, except for llamas and alpacas.
It can’t compete with Alaska’s Dalton Highway, which is both the quietest road in the United States and offers astonishing scenery and the possibility of spotting a polar bear, or Maine’s Old Canada Road, as it winds its way through historic towns and villages and incandescent fall foliage, but New Jersey’s own Route 49 has been determined to be the quietest road in the state.
The determination was made by Geotab and posted, appropriately enough, to the company’s America’s Quietest Routes website.
To find the quietest roads in each state, Geotab gathered the latest available (2015) traffic count data from the Highway Performance Monitoring System. Quietness was calculated as the annual average daily traffic (AADT, measured in number of vehicles). Routes with the lowest AADT in each state were deemed the quietest.
New Jersey is regularly hammered as a state where residents pay too much in taxes and get too little for what they’re shelling out. Take comfort in this: It could be worse. RewardExpert recently analyzed Census Bureau data to determine how much value residents of all 50 states receive for their tax dollars in terms of government spending on services, infrastructure, education, and public safety. New Jersey took the 43rd slot. Hawaii was at the bottom of the heap, while Alaska took first place. New York was at 5; Pennsylvania, 22; and Connecticut, 48.
RewardExpert is a free service that helps users take full advantage of credit card points and travel rewards.
Sixty percent of New Jerseyans believe the state is going down the wrong road. Another 30 percent live on the sunny side of the street — and think the Garden State is bobbing along nicely in the right direction. These are among the findings of the latest poll in the Rutgers-Eagleton 2018 State of the Garden State series.
What else did the poll discover about our view of home? Well, while 61 percent think that New Jersey is an “excellent” or “good” place to live, 30 percent would leave if they could. Probably the least surprising revelation is that 82 percent of New Jerseyans are “somewhat” or “very” dissatisfied with the way the state government has handled taxes, and 75 percent think their property taxes are “somewhat” or “very” unfair.
As a new administration takes over in Trenton and tries to put its stamp on the Garden State, the poll has a piece of good news for Gov. Phil Murphy — there’s 68 percent support for raising taxes on households making more than $1 million annually, something the governor proposed in his first budget this week. (The poll also delves into what New Jerseyans think about healthcare, education, and transportation.)
Damn Yankees! They always find a way to win, don’t they? It turns out they’re top of the heap among baseball followers in the Garden State, 47 percent of whom give their allegiance to the gents in pinstripes. This is according to the Quinnipiac University New Jersey Baseball Poll, which was released yesterday. So, how ‘bout them Mets? Or Phillies? Well, the Phillies are the favorite team of 20 percent of New Jersey baseball fans. And the Mets, they manage to scrape up love from just 18 percent. And here’s the salt in the wound for Mets and Phillies fans: the Yankees' number is an improvement over last year, when they rated 39 percent support to 21 percent for the Phillies and 20 percent for the Mets.
“None of the other major league teams even comes close when it comes to winning the hearts of Jersey guys, or gals,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll — as if that’s any comfort to Mets and Phillies fans.
But, as Yogi Berra said, “It ain't over till it's over.” There’s always next year.
New Jersey voters favor U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez by a margin of 49 percent to 32 percent over his Republican challenger, former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin. That’s according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released yesterday. And that’s despite the fact many voters believe that Menendez was involved in serious wrongdoing — arising out of the corruption charges he recently beat. The poll reveals far more lopsided levels of support when people’s party affiliation is taken into account: Democrats stand by Menendez 85 percent – 3 percent, while Republicans back Hugin 81 percent – 7 percent. Independent voters go for Menendez 41 percent – 36 percent. Thirty-eight percent of voters believe Menendez was involved in “serious wrongdoing,” 20 percent say he was not involved, and 37 percent say they haven’t heard enough to decide.
“New Jersey voters are sending Sen. Robert Menendez a mixed message,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, said. “They far prefer him … over Republican challenger Bob Hugin... But they are skeptical about his guilt or innocence regarding federal corruption charges that were dropped after a hung jury.”
Other numbers from the poll: New Jersey voters approve 44 percent – 23 percent of the job Gov. Phil Murphy is doing. (The approval rate for him is 72 percent – 6 percent among Democrats, and 41 percent – 22 percent among independent voters, with Republicans disapproving 54 percent – 12 percent.) Voters approve of the job U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is doing 59 percent – 31 percent.
Revised data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates the New Jersey labor market added 43,400 jobs in 2017. Preliminary estimates for January 2018 show the trend continuing, with a monthly total nonfarm job gain of 13,000, with the state's unemployment rate holding steady at 4.7 percent.
The revised data shows that over the December 2016 - December 2017 period, five of nine major private-industry sectors added jobs: education and health services (+20,300); trade, transportation, and utilities (+15,300); leisure and hospitality (+8,500); manufacturing (+3,200); and other services (+2,000). Sectors that recorded job losses were construction (-2,800), information (-2,600), and professional and business services (-1,000). The financial activities sector was unchanged. Government employment was higher by 500 jobs.
Preliminary nonfarm wage and salary estimates for January show an increase in total nonfarm farm employment of 13,000 jobs over the previous month, reaching a seasonally adjusted level of 4,159,800. The majority of the gain was recorded in the private sector (+11,100).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded more than $8.7 million to replace or retrofit 452 older diesel school buses. The funds are going to 141 school bus fleets in 32 states, each of which will receive rebates through EPA's Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding. In New Jersey, rebates are going toward replacement or retrofitting of 27 buses in Iselin, Toms River, Bayonne, and Tabernacle. The new and retrofitted buses will reduce pollutants that are linked to health problems such as asthma and lung damage.
Four out of five New Jerseyans said they pay too much in taxes for what they got, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll conducted for its "2018 State of the Garden State" series. Less than 20 percent disagreed with the majority, saying they get their money's worth for the state and local taxes they fork over. And by a margin of 64 percent to 6 percent, residents said they got a worse deal than taxpayers in other states.
Property taxes remain the third rail of state politics; three-quarters of all residents said they are unfair, while a whopping 55 percent called them "very unfair." Despite that, residents are willing to consider new taxes: There is widespread support for a tax on legalized marijuana, as well as a millionaires tax.