In 2014, NJ Spotlight readers took an avid interest in our coverage of the state’s ongoing public-pension and health-benefits crisis. Bridgegate –arguably the political story of the year — saw lots of traffic too. You also singled out some of our very Jersey lists (corrupt politicians and weird geography!), the usual hot topics (Gov. Chris Christie, charter schools, the Affordable Care Act), and the story of the long road back from superstorm Sandy.
This list is based on readership and traffic, but we know that’s not the only measure of a good story. Was there something particularly significant that we left out? Leave us a note in the comments with a link, and let us know why it mattered to you.
1. The Pension Crisis
The story of New Jersey’s pension crisis twisted and turned all year long, but you were particularly interested in this March story that highlighted how Christie changed the funding formula for the state’s pension contribution so he could cut payments and help plug a hole in the budget.
2. The List: New Jersey’s 10 Highest-Paid Chief Executives
New Jersey is home to plenty of corporate headquarters. And as this story reports, two of the state’s CEOs are among the 100 highest-paid chief executives in the nation.
The governor got lots of national press attention this year for what started as the seemingly insignificant story of a local traffic jam in Fort Lee. Among our stories on the subject: the relationship between the Port Authority police and Christie and a lesson in crisis management from the investigation the Christie administration made into the incident.
4. Top 10 Lists
A few more lists, these with a decidedly only-in-Jersey flare: the 15 most corrupt politicians in New Jersey history and the odd geography and history of the Garden State’s weirdest-shaped municipalities.
5. The Christie Administration
“Does this administration put political credentials ahead of policy expertise?” That was just one of the questions that this analysis of Chris Christie’s governing style tried to answer by taking a deep dive into the events of Christie’s time in office.
6. Charter School Closings
While expansion of charter schools remain a hot topic in New Jersey and across the country, the news of two charter closures also caught the notice of our readers.
7. The Affordable Care Act
The first year of the Affordable Care Act is on the books, and we provided comprehensive coverage of the landmark new law. This story on how rule changes affected dental care for children drew a lot of interest from our readers.
8. The Foreclosure Crisis
Just how bad is the Garden State’s foreclosure crisis? Our Explainer on that question struck a nerve. The answer? It’s pretty bad.
9. Superstorm Sandy
More than two years after superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey and the Northeast, the recovery drags on. In a joint investigation with WNYC, we reported in March how one of the energy-grant programs — one of the few completely controlled by the Christie administration — was riddled with errors. Four months later, the state revised its numbers.
10. The Transportation Trust Fund
The future of the Transportation Trust Fund remains an open question as New Jersey heads into 2015. We reported early this year that the program will run out of borrowing capacity a year early leaving the Christie administration without funding to pay for highway, bridge, and mass-transit construction.