Are you ready to give $25 from your pocket to Xanadu ($100 for a family of four)?
That is one of several important questions to be decided this week in Trenton, each of which we’d be seriously fixated on if not for the undoubtedly even more important anti-union armageddon currently unfolding. Still, these things are worth keeping an eye on because they all have a huge impact. Here are the top five, in no particular order:
1. Will thousands of working families be kicked off of Medicaid? Gov. Christie (R-Rove) has decreed that working families earning more than $6,000 a year should be dropped from Medicaid. Thus creating new incentives to go from work to welfare. Will the Democrats stand up and try to block this change (not clear from the reporting exactly how much power the Legislature has, but at the least they could pass a resolution telling the Obama Administration to reject the waivers needed)?
2. Will we have to pay $25 each to bail out Xanadu? Sens. Ray Lesniak (D-Progressive Social Causes and Crony Capitalism) and Kevin O’Toole (R-Tool) have introduced a bill to expand the ability of the Christie Administration to give away our money to large developers to include the Meadowlands. If you have driven the Turnpike recently, you may be aware that the Meadowlands includes a large eyesore called Xanadu which has been a total failure. Apparently the solution to this problem is for everyone in the state to pay $25 (that is $200 million divided by the 8 million people in NJ) to a large Canadian developer in order to get the mall ready for opening. I have two questions: could those of us below I-195 at least have the option of giving the money to a more local mall that is not 100 miles away, or perhaps have it go to the casinos and at least get $25 in chips back? And if this expert is right that even with $200 million of our tax money the project only has a 50-50 chance of success (after all four prior owners have failed), do we get double our money back if it fails again? Seriously, is this really something that the Democrats are going to support instead of using to bash Christie?
3. Does the Open Public Records Act still exist? First Gov. Christie refuses to let us know who is on the helicopter with him. Then he claims executive privilege for e-mails with Roger Ailes. Did OPRA get repealed while we weren’t looking? And is anyone going to hold him accountable?
4. Women’s health: what happens next? Planned Parenthood, our own Sen. Weinberg (D – Actually a D), and many others have been running probably the best progressive campaign of the year against Christie’s deeply unpopular cuts in women’s health. What happens next? Do the Dems take it up a notch? Like hold Xanadu, which costs over 20 times as much, hostage? Now, you may say: those are the kind of techniques that Republicans use, not Democrats. Which brings us to the next and final point…
5. Will the Democrats reverse all of their progress in making Chris Christie unpopular? For a while, Senate President Sweeney (D-Sorry About that Marriage Thing) and Speaker Oliver (D-What Happened to that Awesome State Convention Speech?) were on a roll – and Christie was having bad week after bad week – jobs numbers, helicopters, women’s health – and looked more arrogant than strong. Now, Christie is going to have a new round of bragging rights from overcoming the unions’ power. Christie this week looks more strong than arrogant. Are there any other tricks up leadership’s sleeve to help boost Christie’s sagging poll numbers?
It is going to be an interesting week with a lot at stake for our state’s future. And please post additions to this list if I missed something.