The cost of tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates at Rutgers University will increase by 1.85 percent for the 2017-2018 academic year. That’s below the university’s 2.1 percent average tuition and mandatory fee increases of the last three years.
“Public colleges and universities across the country are facing significant financial challenges,” Rutgers university president Robert Barchi said, while emphasizing that Rutgers was managing to keep increases to a minimum.
The 1.85 percent increase translates into a bill of $14,638 in combined tuition and mandatory student fees for a typical in-state, full-time Arts and Sciences undergraduate at the New Brunswick campus. If that student lives on campus, total charges — including tuition, fees, room and board — will be $27,090, up 1.7 percent from last year. Announcing the increase yesterday, Rutgers pointed out that while it applies to most undergraduates, “in many cases, individual student costs are reduced by federal, state or institutional financial aid.”
Rutgers has about 69,000 students and 22,500 faculty and staff at campuses and facilities around New Jersey.
The summer of hell and the ongoing work at New York Penn Station may have NJ Transit officials and commuters concerned, but the agency is also looking down the track to fiscal 2018, passing a $2.21 billion operating budget.
Almost half of the revenue in the fiscal 2018 operating budget comes from passenger revenue ($1.014 billion), supported by a comparable amount from state and federal program reimbursements ($947.7 million), with the balance from a combination of commercial revenues ($115.2 million) and state operating assistance ($140.9 million).
Approximately 61 percent of the operating budget is dedicated to labor and fringe-benefits costs. Other significant expenses include materials and supplies and purchased transportation, which equal 25 percent of the operating budget.
The agency also passed a $1.367 billion capital program for fiscal 2018.
NJT says it remains committed to deploying positive train control.
It continues to invest in railroad bridge rehabilitation, track replacement, signal upgrades, repairs to overhead power lines and electric substations, as well as investments into the state-of-good-repair of the Northeast Corridor (NEC), the agency’s most utilized line.
The overall voter turnout rate in the November 2016 elections was 6.3 percent lower among people with disabilities (55.9 percent) compared with those without disabilities (62.2 percent). But people with disabilities who are employed turned out at virtually the same rate as people without disabilities who are employed (64.7 percent to 63.6 percent). The “disability gap” is highlighted in a report released yesterday by the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations.
Polling place accessibility remains a persistent issue affecting turnout. An earlier study by Professor Lisa Schur, one of the authors of the new report, found that 30 percent of people with disabilities had problems voting at polling places in 2012, compared to 8 percent of people without disabilities.
Advocates of greater accessibility are taking their case directly to the politicians: This is National Disability Voter Registration Week and it’s being marked at an event in front of the State House in Trenton today. Along with Senate President Steve Sweeney, speakers will include a co-author of the Rutgers report, Distinguished Professor Douglas Kruse, who has said that, “Standard turnout predictors such as education and income do not fully account for the disability gap. It’s also due to many people with disabilities being socially isolated and perceiving that public officials are less responsive to their needs."
The H-1B visa immigration program has been controversial since it is only open to highly skilled foreign workers, but it benefits about 85,000 people each year. President Donald Trump has ordered the program under review, but so far no changes have been announced.
New Jersey has been a major sponsor of H-1B visas. In 2013, 35,982 workers were awarded these visas to live in the Garden State. Most commonly, these immigrants work in the sciences, technology, and engineering industry, with more than half being of Indian descent.
Forget Georgia. New Jersey is one of the largest growers of peaches in the country, and this year’s crop is expected to be the biggest in years. The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council is estimating it will be between 55 million and 66 million peaches on 5,500 acres.
For a point of comparison, in 2015 New Jersey farmers grew 42.2 million pounds of peaches on 4,700 acres. This crop brought in $27.6 million.
The New Jersey season is just beginning to get into full swing, and will run through September. New Jersey grows multiple variety of peaches, each with different dates for ripeness.
According to the latest Monmouth University poll, fully half (50 percent) of the registered voters who participated point to property taxes as the top problem in the Garden State. What makes this finding ironic rather than simply obvious (we do pay the highest property taxes in the country) is that the top-line takeaway from the poll is that gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy has opened up a daunting 27-point lead over his opponent, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. What’s ironic about that? Property taxes are Guadagno’s signature issue. Either her message isn’t getting through or the voters don’t like the messenger. Either way, as the governor’s race shifts into high gear, Guadagno has her work cut out for her.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the Newark Rebellion, four days of civil disturbance that lasted from July 12 to July 17, 1967 and left 26 dead and 727 injured — and saw the city’s business district engulfed in flames fueled by arson.
The rebellion was sparked off after two white police officers beat a black cabdriver; a rumor spread that he had been killed while in police custody. (This was not true.)
The Newark riots, as they were then known, led to 1,500 arrests. Property damage exceeded $10 million.
Of the 26 killed, according to Wikipedia, 24 were civilians. A police officer and a firefighter also lost their lives. Among the injured were 567 civilians, 67 police officers, 55 firefighters, and 38 military personnel.
A 50th Anniversary Memorial March will be held this afternoon at 4:30, meeting at the Newark Rebellion Memorial, on the crossroads of Springfield Avenue, 15th Avenue, and Irvine Turner Boulevard.
Some — or many — New Jersey legislators might have enjoyed the widespread excoriation of Gov. Chris Christie for parking himself on a beach that was closed to the public during the recent government shutdown. The same lawmakers might be disconcerted to learn that 54 percent of New Jerseyans think the Legislature and Christie are equally to blame for the shutdown. A poll by the Monmouth University Polling Institute also found that 28 percent put the blame solely on Christie, while 14 percent blame the Legislature alone.
Only 15 percent of New Jersey adults approve of the job Christie is doing as governor, according to the poll. On the one hand, the outgoing governor might take some solace from that number. After all, “Beachgate” did not worsen it. "It really is difficult to drive approval ratings into the single digits barring something like a criminal conviction,” said Patrick Murray, director of the polling institute.
On the other hand, a majority of Garden State residents (55 percent) feel the state is worse off because of Christie's time as governor. The equivalent number a year ago was 41 percent.
The U.S. DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration has published the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Hudson Tunnel Project, aka the Gateway Tunnel, putting the price tag between $11.7 billion to $12.98 billion. The DEIS indicates that the plan includes building two new rail tubes in a single tunnel beneath the Hudson River that can maintain the existing level of train service while the North River Tunnel tubes are taken out of service one at a time for rehabilitation. Once the North River Tunnel restoration is complete, both old and new tunnels will be in service, providing redundancy and increased flexibility.
Three public hearings on the draft statement are scheduled on August 1, August 3, and August 10.
The New Jersey Petroleum Council just released a new study on the benefits natural gas brings to the state in terms of consumer savings, jobs, and economic growth. According to the report, “Benefits and Opportunities of Natural Gas Use, Transportation, and Production,” the industry sector in 2015 contributed $11.6 billion to the state’s economy. It also supported 79,800 jobs across the state, or 2 percent of the total number of jobs in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Petroleum Council is a member of the American Petroleum Institute.
Gov. Chris Christie signed the state budget after the drama of the holiday weekend government shutdown and “Beachgate.” And while Democrats were pleased with the final document, the governor still used his red pen to veto a number of items, some of which affect the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
Among the items Christie vetoed was one that would have restored “Heat and Eat” benefits that attach certain federal nutritional benefits to state heating assistance. When the federal government changed aspects of the program in 2014, most eligible states changed their own rules to ensure the continuation of crucial benefits but New Jersey did not do so. As a result, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits have been cut by an average of $90 per month for an estimated 160,000 New Jersey households, according to the New Jersey Policy Perspective, a progressive think tank.
Christie also vetoed language that would have repealed the so-called “family cap” for Work First NJ. The cap denies basic assistance to children who are born while their mothers are on Work First NJ (also known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families). The NJPP says the cap has denied essential assistance to over 20,000 babies since its inception.
The state budget just signed after a three-day government shutdown was primarily fought over education funding, but there are a number of other programs that will see additional benefits due to the settlement.
Among them is an additional $5 million that will go to women’s rape-crisis centers, via the New Jersey Coalition for Sexual Assault, as well as money in the state budget for programs about domestic violence and rape prevention.
Another $23 million will go to higher education, including $10 million for NJIT, which is creating an engineering makerspace. Another $5 million will go to Rutgers Camden School of Business and $3 million to Rutgers Cancer Institute.
Follow this link for a full list of additional funds added to the budget by the Democrats.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday that wages declined in all 15 of New Jersey’s largest counties from the fourth quarter of 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2016. The largest drop was in Passaic County, where wages went down by six percent; it was followed by Morris (5 percent) and Burlington (4.2 percent) counties. The national average for a decline in wages was 1.5 percent. (The bureau defines large counties as those with employment of 75,000 or more as measured by 2015 average employment.)
Still, average weekly wages were above the $1,067 national average in 11 of New Jersey’s large counties in the fourth quarter of 2016. They exceeded $1,500 a week in Somerset and Morris counties.
Employment grew by 1.2 percent nationally from December 2015 to December 2016. In 14 of the Garden State’s largest counties it also grew, with seven showing increases at or above the national level. The biggest employment gain was in Hudson County (3.3 percent). But in Atlantic County employment declined by 1.7 percent.
The grand total spent on this year’s gubernatorial primary set a new record, even when prior years’ spending is adjusted for inflation, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
According to campaign reports due 20 days after the June 6 primary, candidates spent $33.7 million themselves and independent committees spent $8.8 million, mostly during 2016. The combined $42.5 million is the most spent in a primary on its face and even more than the previous record spent in 2001, which, when adjusted for inflation, totaled $41.2 million. The candidates and committees raised even more — almost $47.7 million
By far the biggest spender, responsible for more than half the total, was Democratic nominee Phil Murphy, a former Wall Street executive and U.S. Ambassador to Germany. He raised about $22 million — $16.3 million of which was from his own funds — and spent $21.7 million. For the general election, Murphy plans to seek public matching funds, which would force him to limit his total spending to $13.8 million.
According to ELEC, just three other New Jersey candidates have spent more in inflation-adjusted dollars than Murphy’s combined outlay of $21 million pursuing state or federal offices. The spending was in multiple elections: former Gov. Jon Corzine, $166 million; Steve Forbes, chairman of Forbes Media and twice a Republican candidate for president, $110 million; and Doug Forrester, president of a health benefits management firm and unsuccessful GOP nominee for U.S. Senate and governor, $46.5 million.
The second biggest spender was Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, the Republican nominee, who raised $3.5 million and spent all but $89,000 of that.
More than a quarter of the independent spending, or $2.3 million, was spent in support of candidates who ultimately did not enter the race. Independent committees are expected to spend heavily in the general election for governor and for the Legislature.
Most parents want to raise their children in a safe place with good schools, great parks and recreational facilities. SafeWise, the home security provider, has just released its list of the 30 safest cities in which to raise a child in the United States — and six locations in New Jersey are included on it: Monroe (7), Middletown (9), Wayne (11), Toms River (13), Bridgewater (17), and Hillsborough (22).
In order to compile the list, SafeWise reviewed such things as sex offender concentrations, state graduation rates, school rankings, and FBI crime data. It also analyzed parks and recreational facilities and other services oriented toward children and families. It did not include any cities with populations less than 10,000 or that did not report complete crime numbers to the FBI. Greenwich, CT topped the list.
The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice has just released a new report, “Bridging the Two Americas: Employment and Economic Opportunity in Newark and Beyond,” and its findings are grim. For starters, 62 percent of Newark households qualify as “ALICE,” asset-limited, income-constrained, and employed — a long way of saying “working poor.” They do not earn enough to meet their basic needs for housing, healthcare, food, transportation, and childcare. And while just about three-quarters of Newark residents are people of color, nearly two-thirds of workers in the city are white. Residents hold just 18 percent of all jobs in the city. And unemployment in the state’s largest city in 2015 was 8.8 percent, about 60 percent higher than unemployment statewide (5.6 percent).
The Meadowlands attracts tens of thousands of birds each year, representing more than 200 species — including 35 endangered, threatened, or species of special concern, according to the New Jersey Audubon Society. In fact, between 2004 and 2006, the society recorded more than 150,000 birds — from raptors, to songbirds, to waterfowl — in the Meadowlands, which offers a diversity of habits and sits in the Atlantic Flyway, a major migration corridor.
That’s great news for birdwatchers and conservationists. Unfortunately, it’s not such wonderful news for the birds.
Development in the area, especially buildings with reflective walls or transparent surfaces, is killing birds who can’t distinguish the barriers and think they are flying into open air. At night, glass buildings can attract migrating birds that mistake reflections for navigational cues normally provided by stars and the moon.
This spring, New Jersey Audubon conducted surveys at 12 tall buildings in the area and found more than 250 individuals of 50 species that had collided with buildings in April and May. Of these, more than half were dead and the rest were injured.
It is possible to design buildings to reduce the number of bird strikes, using opaque glass, creating designs on transparent surfaces, and implementing innovative lighting systems. At the moment, though, compliance is voluntary. New legislation (A-4795) sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Eustace would mandate that designers, developers, and builders take steps to reduce bird strikes.
First funded in 1968 under former Gov. Richard Hughes, New Jersey's Educational Opportunity Fund provides personal support and financial aid to more than 17,000 low-income college students throughout the state.
But the budget that Gov. Chris Christie proposed earlier in 2017 for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 called for a reduction in funding for the Educational Opportunity Fund by $3.6 million.
Democrats who control the Legislature have drafted their own version of the 2018 fiscal year spending plan, and according to preliminary figures provided to NJ Spotlight, they intend to restore the cut proposed by Christie, and then provide another $1.4 million to the program. That would push the total EOF allocation up to $43.8 million.
Still, it's not certain the Democrats’ effort to boost EOF funding will make it into the final version of the fiscal 2018 budget, because the state constitution gives Christie the final say.
Even though the U.S. Senate has yet to release the details of its version of the GOP’s American Health Care Act, the iteration that the House passed — without any changes — “would have devastating consequences to New Jersey’s residents, public health, and economy,” according to a new report from New Jersey Policy Perspective.
For starters, the AHCA would strip insurance from 540,000 New Jerseyans and cause the state's uninsurance rate to spike by 50 percent by 2026. What’s more, by repealing Medicaid expansion and marketplace subsidies, the AHCA would result in a $28 billion loss in federal funds over 10 years and cut about 54,000 jobs.
The coverage, federal funding and job losses would be severe in every New Jersey Congressional district. Coverage loss ranges from 30,000 to 65,000; percentage increase in the uninsured ranges 44 percent to 112 percent; annual federal funding lost ranges from $251 million to $638 million; and job loss ranges from 2,761 to 7,006.
Generic drugs have saved the U.S. health care system $1.67 trillion in the last decade, with $253 billion saved in 2016 alone. The savings for New Jersey in 2016 were $7 billion. That’s according to the 2017 Generic Drug Access and Savings in the United States Report, which is compiled on behalf of the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM).
New Jersey’s 2016 savings were for commercial insured ($3.3 billion), Medicare ($2.2 billion), Medicaid ($1.3 billion), and cash for the non-insured ($279 million).
The report noted that while generics make up 89 percent of prescriptions dispensed they account for only 26 percent of total spending on medicine.
One telling difference between brand and generic drugs, as analyzed in the report, concerns “abandonment behavior” — whether patients pick up or abandon a medication they have requested at a pharmacy. It turns out that abandonment rates for brand-name drugs are 266 percent higher than for generic drugs, with cost playing a significant role in that abandonment.
The Jersey Shore. Liberty State Park. Ellis Island. The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Six Flags Great Adventure. The Paterson Great Falls … We don’t know whether the folks at WalletHub need to clean their windshield or open their eyes, but we are gobsmacked by our rock-bottom ranking for summer tourist attractions in its 2017 Best and Worst States for Summer Road Trips.
Garden State residents looking to salvage some pride can take some slight solace in the state’s overall ranking of 42, which put it right between Montana and Kansas.
According to the methodology, WalletHub’s data team compared the 50 U.S. states in terms of 22 key indicators of a fun and frugal summer road trip. The data set ranges from average gas prices to the quality of roads to the number of attractions.
Perhaps native-born jazz genius John Pizzarelli sang it best.
New Jersey hospitals and health systems support their communities with free and discounted healthcare services, community health improvement programs, education, research, and other benefits valued at $2.75 billion. That’s according to the new report, “N.J. Hospitals Caring for Their Communities,” from the New Jersey Hospital Association.
That’s a tidy sum, but the largest portion by far — $2.2 billion — comprises unpaid costs of patient care. The total breaks down as follows: $646 million in unreimbursed charity care services for the uninsured and working poor; $276.2 million in unpaid care for Medicare patients; $147 million in unpaid care for Medicaid beneficiaries; and $1.1 billion in uncollectable costs for treatment (bad debt).
Also included in the total: $73.3 million in community health improvement services; $122 million in health professions education; $351 million in other community services and programs, such as clinical research, contributions to municipalities and healthcare programs that operate at a loss and are subsidized by the hospital.
The report relies on data from 2015 (the most current available) and is based on survey responses from 52 hospitals extrapolated to represent contributions from New Jersey’s 71 acute-care hospitals.
The Department of Labor and Workforce Development is right in trumpeting the good news: New Jersey’s unemployment rate remains at 4.1 percent, a 16-year low. The same press release tucked some less-happy news in the second paragraph, however: The private sector shed 14,000 jobs in May. The department reports that the private sectors that posted a loss in May include professional and business services (-9,000); trade, transportation, and utilities (-2,400); financial activities (-1,400); education and health services (-800); information (-500); and leisure and hospitality (-400).
Gov. Chris Christie has done it again — ratcheting up to historic levels the rate at which New Jersey voters disapprove of him. A Quinnipiac University poll, released yesterday, found that 81 percent of voters disapprove of him versus 15 percent who approve; it’s the worst approval rating for a governor in any state that Quinnipiac has surveyed in the past twenty years. Even 58 percent of voters in his own Republican Party give the governor a thumbs-down.
The poll also found that voters strongly disapprove of President Donald Trump — but he’s still not down in the Christie range (66 – 28 percent).
Voter approval of U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (58 – 28 percent) is markedly higher than that of his Senate colleague, Robert Menendez (44 – 35 percent). Another worrying number for Menendez is that 44 percent of voters say he does not deserve re-election next year versus 31 percent who say that he does.
If it becomes law, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), as passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, could cost New Jersey an estimated 42,000 jobs by 2026, according to "The American Health Care Act: Economic and Employment Consequences for States," published today by researchers at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health and The Commonwealth Fund.
New Jersey is just one of the 10 states that would be lose the most jobs. The other nine are New York (86,000 jobs lost), Pennsylvania (85,000), Florida (83,000), Michigan (51,000), Illinois (46,000), Ohio (42,000), North Carolina (41,000), California (32,000), and Tennessee (28,000).
The report estimates that nearly 1 million jobs would disappear by 2026; gross state products — an economic measure akin to gross domestic product could fall by $93 billion by then, while state business output could fall by $148 billion.
Of New Jersey children receiving a subsidized school lunch, just 19 percent benefited from the federal summer meals program last year, according to the “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Summer Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report” released today by the Food Research and Action Center.
The state ranked a relatively high 12th place nationally, but still fed summer lunches to a significantly smaller percentage of children than the goal set by FRAC. New Jersey also left $6.7 million in federal dollars on the table by not providing summer meals to more students.
Many New Jersey children face hunger in the summer when school meals are not available to the roughly 428,000 children who rely on getting breakfast or lunch or both at school during the academic year.
To reach the FRAC goal of providing summer meals to 40 percent of those getting subsidized school meals, New Jersey would have to feed an additional 90,000 children. Last July, the state served almost 81,000 children summer meals on an average day.
Still, New Jersey fed about 2 percent more children last summer than in July 2015, boosting its ranking from 14th place to 12th and bucking an overall decline nationally — nearly 5 percent fewer children got summer meals in 2016 than the year before. The state also increased the number of sites offering summer meals by nearly 22 percent.
“While we commend communities for the progress that has been made, it’s clear that we can — and must — do more,’’ said Cecilia Zalkind, president and CEO of Advocates for Children of New Jersey.
This year, the state Department of Agriculture estimates New Jersey will have 1,400 meal sites at parks, pools, schools, libraries, and other places where children congregate in the summer. Meal sites have steadily increased over the past two years, due in part to efforts by the department and the New Jersey Food for Thought Campaign. Typically, school districts, local governments, and community organizations serve as meal sponsors.
It’s no secret that New Jersey is a pricey place to live — whether you own a house or rent an apartment. In fact, it’s the sixth most-expensive state in the United States for renters; only Hawaii, California, New York, Maryland, and Massachusetts are more costly. (Washington, D.C., which is counted separately, also is more expensive.)
What does the Garden State’s No. 6 ranking mean? Consider this: the hourly housing wage — the amount a resident would have to earn to pay for two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent — is $27.31. And there are a lot of folks who don’t earn that sort of pay, including social-service workers, dental lab technicians, emergency dispatchers, preschool teachers, accounting clerks, childcare workers, home health aides, school bus drivers, security guards, janitors, hairstylists, receptionists, cashiers, and others — according to a new national report, “Out of Reach,” from the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
The average wage for a New Jersey renter is $17.86 an hour. At that salary it would take them 60 hours a week to afford that modest two-bedroom. At minimum wage — $8.44 an hour — a New Jersey resident would have to work 129 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom at FMR.
It’s National Safety Month and Vermont has been decreed the safest state in the nation and Louisiana the least safe. That’s according to WalletHub, the personal finances website, which analyzed a range of data concerning personal and residential safety, road safety, crime, law enforcement numbers, bullying, etc.
New Jersey registered in the top five of only two categories; it came in fourth for fewest fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel — let’s hear it for Jersey drivers! And the Garden State ranked second for most law enforcement per capita. (Louisiana had the most).
New Jersey’s overall safety ranking among the states was 15th, two places below New York (13) and seven places ahead of Pennsylvania (22).
Finally, a statistic of note in the context of the gubernatorial election, in which the Republican and Democratic candidates both cite the state’s lack of affordability as a concern: New Jersey ranked 38th in financial safety.
Despite New Jersey’s laggard economy and financial challenges, it scored a creditable 21 on a recent assessment of the best and worst state economies from WalletHub, the personal finances website. The analysis evaluated all 50 states and the District of Columbia using three overall categories: economic activity (New Jersey scored 11), economic health (47), and innovation potential (11). Each category reflects weighted scores using a total of 27 metrics.
New York was ranked 19th, scoring 7 (economic activity), 47 (economic health), and 18 (innovation potential). Pennsylvania was ranked 30th: 25, 41, 27.
Washington finished at the top of the list, scoring an impressive 1 (activity), 4 (health), and 3 (innovation potential). West Virginia took the 51st slot, with scores of 48, 49, and 51.