Assembly Holds Hearing Today on Charter Schools
The Education Committee, chaired by Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D-18), will receive testimony on issues relating to charter schools, including current need, local approval requirements, accountability, and alternative avenues for authorization of new charter schools. The invited speakers include individuals from Education Law Center, Statewide Education Organizing Committee, Save Our Schools, NJ Charter Schools Association, Garden State Coalition of Schools and others.
Monday, January 24, 2011 – 1:00 PM in Committee Room 11, 4th Floor, State House Annex or listen here.
Reducing Our High Level of Incarcerations
The Assembly Judiciary Committee will consider today A3053 (S2634) which establishes a conditional intervention program in municipal court for certain first-time offenders. This bill creates an alternative to sentencing those who are charged with a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense. It is patterned closely on the provisions which permits certain first-time drug offenders to have proceedings suspended or to have no judgment of conviction entered if they complete certain drug treatment or meet other conditions imposed by the court. Primary Sponsors: Reed Gusciora (D-15), Annette Quijano (D-20), Peter Barnes (D-18) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15)
Monday, January 24, 2011 – 10:00 AM in Committee Room 12, 4th Floor, State House Annex or listen here.
ARC Tunnel Deadline
The federal government recently gave NJ Transit a third and final extension on its deadline to respond to demands that a $271 million debt to the Federal Transit Administration be repaid for the cancelled ARC tunnel. The deadline is tomorrow. Will Governor Christie respond, “I will sues you,” or will he pay up and tell us what account is being debited?
“Even though I can’t see you all the time,
Gotta let you know you’re on my mind “ – Donovan Frankenreiter
MEDICAL MARIJUANA DEADLINE – The legislature’s joint resolution provided the Health Department with 30 days to amend or withdraw their proposed regulations. If this Friday’s deadline is not met the legislature may invalidate the regs in whole or in part. Even the changes demanded in the resolution only partly meet the needs for a viable program. Christie’s micromanagement meddling has severely harmed this project. Thoughts of a cockeyed optimist: One can only hope that wiser minds in the Health Department will prevail.
BACK TO WORK NJ – Both the Senate (2:00 PM) and Assembly (1:00 PM) will vote today on more bills designed to increase jobs and strengthen our economy. The bills include an unusual mix – some of which are liked more by Republicans than Democrats, and vice versa. Some lack sufficient information regarding their fiscal impact in that they might increase jobs but also reduce tax revenue. Taken together, however, they show our legislature more responsive to the needs of constituents in these tough economic times than Governor Christie.
CUTS TO MEDICAID – Following Governor Christie’s stated plan to seek cuts in Medicaid, a program for which the federal government pays over 50% of the cost, Assemblyman Herb Conaway M.D. (D-7 and Assembly Health Co. Chair) says, “to cut deeper into what we all know to be a successful health care program for the poor lacks common sense. Having more people with health insurance is both smart social and fiscal policy. It costs a lot more to treat people in an emergency room than it does to provide them with health coverage.” ChrIstie all too frequently seems hell-bent on saving money even when it will cost us more in the long run.
PENSION/HEALTH PLAN – Christie has called for raising the retirement age, increasing employee pension contributions and a structural change in funding health plans. Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver have outlined their own better plan. It calls for giving public employee unions more say in how their pensions are administered while making workers give concessions. Facing severe problems, such as the underfunded pension plan, our Democratic legislature has increasingly shown its ability to negotiate with the governor and find a better path.
Trenton will also be on our mind tomorrow when Governor Christie presents his “State of the State” Address at 2:00 PM., which you can listen to here.