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Tax Freedom Day arrives in New Jersey, but it’s not good news

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photo by ArtChick

After crunching the numbers, the Tax Foundation has determined today marks Tax Freedom Day in the Garden State — the day when many New Jersey residents have finally earned enough money to pay all of their taxes for the year.

New Jersey and Connecticut have the latest Tax Freedom days of any state in

the nation. (Matthau/NJ101.5)

Tax Freedom Day arrived in New Jersey

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Sweeney’s proposal ‘like a bad horror movie’, Bucco says

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TRENTON — For Assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-25), yesterday’s press conference in Trenton was like watching a “bad horror movie.”

Reacting to Senate President Steve Sweeney’s announcement that he plans to push for another millionaire’s tax in this year’s budget, Bucco said today that the state doesn’t “need a proposal that hurts our already struggling economy.” Republicans in general have scoffed at the idea of instituting a tax levied on the state’s top income earners, saying it would drive business from the state. (Brush/PolitickerNJ)

Sweeney’s proposal ‘like a bad horror movie’, Bucco says | New Jersey News, Politics, Opinion, and Analysis

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Officials: 200 additional N.J. bridges will become deficient in five years

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Time to Audit the Transpotatioon Trust Fund (TTF)?

APRIL 28, 2015, 6:38 PM    LAST UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29, 2015, 7:46 AM
BY CHRISTOPHER MAAG
STAFF WRITER |
THE RECORD

An additional 200 state-owned bridges in New Jersey will become structurally deficient in the next five years — bringing the number of failing structures to nearly 500 and wiping away recent gains by the Transportation Department to reduce its long backlog of bridge repair projects, state officials said this week.

The bridges will be added to the list of 290 state-owned spans that already are defined as deficient, a designation that indicates one of the bridge’s three main elements — the deck, or the structural supports above and below the deck — is failing and needs repair, Transportation Department officials said. It does not necessarily indicate the span is unsafe.

“With the aging infrastructure that we have, this is a problem that’s not going to go away,” said Steve Schapiro, a spokesman for the state Transportation Department.

The decline is inevitable, Schapiro said. The bridges will slide into deficiency whether or not New Jersey voters and elected leaders find new revenue next year for the state’s transportation fund, which is nearly broke. Negotiations between lawmakers and Governor Christie to fix the fund, possibly by raising the gas tax, have ended for the year, Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox told The Record in March.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, on Tuesday echoed that, telling New Jersey Chamber of Commerce members that a gas tax increase was unlikely because of political concerns.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/officials-200-additional-n-j-bridges-will-become-deficient-in-five-years-1.132088

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PolitickerNJ Interview: Senate President Steve Sweeney

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TRENTON — Leaning back in a leathery chair in his statehouse office, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) says it was his father who first taught him how to embrace personal and political differences between people. “He always taught me to be happy for someone when they do well, don’t begrudge somebody because they got something that you wanted,” the 55-year-old Democrat says. Now in his sixth year as leader of the legislature’s upper chamber — and 13th since arriving in Trenton a little-known iron worker from South Jersey — Sweeney has carried that philosophy with him, working to apply it in his dealings with ideologically dissimilar parties on issues crucial to the state. His job, as he plainly puts it, is “not to be an obstructionist.” It is, rather, to “bring people together.” (Brush/PolitickerNJ)

The PolitickerNJ Interview: Senate President Steve Sweeney | New Jersey News, Politics, Opinion, and Analysis

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Paul Vagianos of “Its Greek to Me ” has announced his candidacy for State Assembly – District 40.

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April 21,2015

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, In an interesting turn of events Ridgewood ‘s own Paul Vagianos of Its “Greek to Me ” has announced his candidacy ,running as Democratic for State Assembly – District 40.

The campaign will host a major fund raiser on May 9th , Vagianos is relative unknown outside of Ridgewood. So the question is why didn’t our Mayor throw his hat into the ring? He has more name recognition and political background and he has developed a strong friendship with State Senator Kevin O’Tool . Could it our mayor Paul Aronsohn has other plans or is there some other issues like his unenthusiastic support for the Roy Cho campaign against Congressmen Scott Garrett or maybe even some potential fallout from the Bob Menendez  blow up with President Obama ?

To many the town question remains if he win will he take his planters to Trenton?

May 9th Event: Vagianos & Ordway for N.J. Assembly

Thank you for supporting the Vagianos & Ordway for N.J. Assembly May 9th Fundraising event with Special Guest Brendan “Tom” Byrne, Jr.!

The event is on Saturday, May 9th from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at the Home of Christine and Ed Ordway, 102 Evergreen Court, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. Cocktails and a Dinner Buffet will be served.

You may make your contribution online on this page, or you may mail with your contribution via check to:

Vagianos and Ordway for N.J. Assembly, Finance Office, P.O. Box 370, Ridgewood N.J. 07451

Check contributions should be made payable to: Vagianos and Ordway for N.J. Assembly

Paid for By Vagianos and Ordway for N.J. Assembly, 717 Godwin Avenue, Midland Park, N.J. 07432

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New Jersey Kids Count report examines race

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New Jersey’s black, Hispanic, and mixed-race children are much more likely than Asian and white children to live in poverty, suffer poor health, struggle in school, and to become involved in the state’s child protection system, according to a new Kids Count 2015 report releasedMonday by Advocates for Children of New Jersey.

The annual report compiles statistics on key indicators of child well-being and ranks counties according to their performance. (Mulford/Courier Post)

http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/local/south-jersey/2015/04/20/kids-count-report/26094611/

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Good news for N.J. drivers: Motor vehicle fees won’t be increasing this year

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By Larry Higgs | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Email the author
on April 20, 2015 at 7:31 AM, updated April 20, 2015 at 8:53 AM

While NJ Transit riders are looking at a possible fare hike, one group of commuters will be spared a similar increase in the coming fiscal year.

Drivers will not see an increase in the fees they pay to register a motor vehicle, renew their driver’s license or conduct other transactions this year, state Motor Vehicle Commission officials said.  This is also the year the MVC starts shopping for a company to run the states inspection stations.

“The last increase was in 2009 and some have decreased since then. The internet transaction fee has gone down,” said Raymond Martinez, MVC chief administrator, who has overseen the agency since 2010. “Some fees are done by statute, some are by regulation. We have not increased any fees since I got here.”

http://www.nj.com/traffic/index.ssf/2015/04/mvc_wont_increase_drivers_fees_but_shops_for_compa.html

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Chesimard remains an open wound in N.J.

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AP FILE PHOTO Joanne Chesimard

APRIL 19, 2015    LAST UPDATED: SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2015, 10:07 AM
BY MIKE KELLY
RECORD COLUMINIST |
THE RECORD

AFTER THE White House announced last week that it wanted to remove Cuba from America’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, it sent a report to Congress.

This was hardly unusual. When the president makes a decision on an important aspect of national policy, his staff often writes a report for the Senate and House. But this report was somewhat unusual. It contained a message for New Jersey.

Without mentioning New Jersey or any other specific names, the White House report addressed Cuba’s decision to offer political asylum to a group of notorious fugitives who fled from America law enforcement authorities years ago and have been living freely ever since on the island nation.

The most notable member of that gang is Joanne Chesimard, a key figure in the Black Liberation Army who was convicted in the murder of a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 during a gunfight after a traffic stop on the turnpike. After escaping from a New Jersey women’s prison in 1979, Chesimard slipped into the secretive world of America’s radical underground and then made her way to Cuba, where she was welcomed by Fidel Castro’s government as a revolutionary and granted political asylum.

Another notorious figure now living in Cuba is William Morales, the Puerto Rican nationalist who is believed to have built the bomb that blew up New York City’s Fraunces Tavern in 1975, killing four people, including a Fair Lawn man.

http://www.northjersey.com/opinion/opinion-guest-writers/chesimard-remains-an-open-wound-in-n-j-1.1312505

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Moody’s downgrades N.J. credit rating, citing weak financial position and pension shortfalls

Trenton_New_Jersey

APRIL 16, 2015, 10:13 PM    LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2015, 10:18 PM
BY SALVADOR RIZZO
STATE HOUSE BUREAU |
THE RECORD

Moody’s Investors Service announced a downgrade of New Jersey’s credit rating Thursday night, citing a “lack of improvement in the state’s weak financial position” and recent pension-funding shortfalls.

The state’s bond rating fell one step, from A1 to A2, at a time when Governor Christie and state lawmakers are building a state budget for the coming fiscal year. Christie, a Republican, has proposed a $33.8 billion spending plan that would make a $1.3 billion contribution to the pension funds, less than half what is legally required under a 2011 pension overhaul he signed.

Shorting the pension payments for the third year in a row, as Christie proposes, would saddle the retirement system with more long-term costs. Moody’s raised concern that the system may run out of money in nine to 12 years unless state officials make further changes to pension laws.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/moody-s-downgrades-n-j-credit-rating-citing-weak-financial-position-and-pension-shortfalls-1.1311053

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AARP, is New Jersey’s Top Lobbyist for 2014

Trenton_New_Jersey

April 13.2015
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood  NJ , The sad truth is most politicians only have to speak with voters ever 2- 4 years , but they speak to lobbyists every day .Special-interest groups in New Jersey once again laid out millions trying to shape and influence legislation in Trenton.

The 2014 list had one notable exception, the free spending  teachers union not making the Top 10 list for the first time in years, and spending less than $400,000 on lobbying activities .However the union still easily led the list of political campaign contributors.

So here is the list of the state’s top special-interest groups and their lobbying expenditures in 2014, as reported by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

1. AARP NJ: $1,645,217

AARP’s New Jersey chapter doubled its spending compared to the previous year and approached its all-time record for lobbying expenses. Much of its reported focus was in the Legislature on bills such as the earned sick-leave requirement and other bills intended to help families caring for elderly relatives.

2. Honeywell International, Inc.: $780,000

The Morris County-based company is a frequent presence on the lobbying list as one of the state’s bigger employers. For 2014, Honeywell’s key lobbying work targeted NJ Transit and the state’s transportation department, according to the ELEC. Honeywell’s lobbying efforts focused on ongoing development opportunities connected with pending transportation projects.

3. Verizon NJ: $719,986

In addition to telecommunications-related bills, Verizon is another example of New Jersey companies lobbying hard to try to influence business policies and legislation in general, including the paid sick leave bill.

4. Prudential Financial Inc.: $716,340

Prudential led the way for insurers, which spent more than $4.2 million overall on lobbying and political contributions combined, the most of any special interest sector in 2014.

5. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers: $557,842

The alliance was new to the list for 2014. Its focus was on legislation pertaining to the regulation of car dealerships and, specifically, one bill that would allow the open sales of the Tesla vehicles. More than $400,000 of the total was spend on a communications campaign.

6. Public Service Enterprise Group: $530,177

Public Service – the owner of the PSE&G utility — recently won Board of Public Utilities approval of a major energy efficiency initiative, as well as several transmission upgrades that are part of a 10-year, $8 billion project.

7. First Energy/Jersey Central Power and Light: $525,051

Among the issues concerning the utility giant in Trenton: a base-rate case argued before the BPU, and a host of directives having to do with hurricane preparation.

8. NJ State League of Municipalities: $513,407

The league is a perennial member of the list, lobbying on any number of bills that affect its member cities and towns, from infrastructure to taxation. Among the league’s key issues this year — and also on the list of the most heavily lobbied bills statewide – were those related to the Transportation Trust Fund and the statewide open-space referendum.

9. New Jersey Hospital Association: $489,804

The NJHA is new to the list in 2014, although its presence continues a run for New Jersey’s hospitals among the biggest lobbying spenders. The association replaces Hackensack University Medical Center, which was on the list in 2013.

10. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ: $483,494

Joining Prudential on the lobbying list of major insurers, Horizon listed a number of bills and regulations where it lobbied for changes, both in the Legislature and with the Christie administration, including those related to the state health-benefits program.

http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/15/04/12/the-list-aarp-state-s-top-lobbyist-spent-over-1-5m-in-2014/