Tag Archive: NJ Legislature

“They know how to fall in line and do what they’re told”

Check out this quote from Tampa over at PolitickerNJ about whether it bothers Republican members of the Delegation that Governor Christie sucks up all of the oxygen in the state basically:

“No, no one’s off to the side expressing any jealousy,” he said. “What you have to understand is this governor has so conditioned the legislature, that they’re used to this. They know how to fall in line and do what they’re told.”

Not much left to say after that.

“Jersey Comeback” to “Christie Blowback” to “Legislative Pushback”

Governor Christie’s bannered “Jersey Comeback” moved toward “Christie’s Blowback” as our economy this year continued to be stuck in the mud, but recently we have seen signs of another shift toward “Legislative Pushback.”

This “Pushback” might be traced to the beginning of this year’s new legislative session when the Assembly and Senate prioritized and passed a Marriage Equality bill against Christie’s wishes. Members were deliberately ignoring much of Christie’s questionable education agenda. Then in an almost unprecedented step, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Christie’s nominee for the Supreme Court. When Christie blundered with an inequitable across-the-board tax cut proposal, each branch of the legislature countered with its own more sensible property tax relief bill, which pushed Christie into negotiations until Christie’s own blowback forced review and retrenchment of these plans. Similarly Christie’s RutRow scheme, maligned by many, has faced skepticism in the halls of the legislature. Finally, who would have guessed that against the seemingly all-powerful Chris Christie the Assembly with 18 bipartisan sponsors would entertain a marijuana decriminalization bill.

This pushback is still fragile and slow, but it seems to be gaining legs. Rather than only having an Emperor parade through New Jersey with hubris but no clothes, we are beginning to see a legislature with more common sense, purpose and determination.

Kids Count! – A Challenge To Our Governor And Legislature

“Now more than ever, the well-being of children lies in the hands of state policymakers. Children now receive relatively little federal government support and what support they do get is highly influenced by the state and local districts in which they live.” – January 18, 2012 –  State  Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI): Investing in Public Programs Matters

This just-released annual report from the Foundation for Child Development indicates, “A child’s well-being is strongly related to the state where he or she lives.” The good news is that this year’s report ranked New Jersey number one among all states in the State Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI). The bad news is that this study presents results for 2007 (the most recent year for which data are available from the National Survey of Children’s Health), and in recent years Governor Christie has reduced State expenditures and sought less federal matching funds. As the legislature and Governor Christie grapple with next year’s budget, the message is clear: state investment in children matters.  

Election Day Open Thread

UPDATE: Pulling this back up top so we can hear from some of our late-day readers. Polls close in 2.5 hours and some people who vote after work are trickling in, except for some hotspots where the trickle’s a little heavier. We’re hearing that some of the 35 robo-calls that Gov. Christie recorded are being used to call Democrats – to depress the vote. If you got any of these calls, in LD-18 or anywhere else, we’d really love to hear about it, in the comments.

What’s going on where you are?

votePolls are open until 8pm tonight. If you don’t know your polling place, find it here. If that doesn’t work, call your county clerk.

If you’ve already voted, call or email your friends and neighbors and remind them to do the same. Share your voting experience in the comments or send it in to tips@bluejersey.com. How’s turnout by you?

Know your rights: NJ Voters Bill of Rights.

Progressive Candidates: Every seat in both houses of the NJ legislature is up, and you can take that as a referendum on Christie’s governance if you want to. I’ll hold back from doing that because there are fewer clearly progressive choices than we want. Among them, two are in recently reconfigured districts. And that adds some strength behind two I’m particularly watching; LD-16 Marie Corfield & LD-11 Vin Gopal.

Battleground Districts: We’re watching Democrats running a defensive play in LD-38, with record-breaking spending in a district not redrawn in favor of the Democratic incumbents Bob Gordon, Connie Wagner and Tim Eustace. And the Jim Whelan-Vince Polistina Senate contest in LD-2. Live in either district? We’d love to hear how turnout looks where you voted.

Local elections: If we want progressive candidates to rise, building the bench at the local level is essential. Good luck to forward-thinking muni candidates.

After Election Day: Shifts in leadership are likely to come in both Houses, assuming Democrats retain majority. In the Assembly they may come as early as Thursday. Sheila Oliver has already scheduled a Democratic caucus to select leadership, swapping in Lou Greenwald for Joe Cryan on her leadership slate, a power play to slow the challenge to her leadership from Cryan, who distinguished himself this year by opposing the pen-ben deal that Oliver was essential to. In the lame duck session, the long knives are out for public education; they’ll call it ‘reform’.

Got pictures? Busy campaign office? Vols at the phones? Candidate and GOTV crews surrounded by empty pizza boxes? Send them in and we’ll post some of them later.

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Waiting for Godot, Armageddon, Continued Dysfunction, and Psychic Damage

As discussions, negotiations, PR, and vituperation continue over the need to raise the national debt ceiling, what will happen in the US and New Jersey?  

  • Waiting for GodotNo way! In the play (spoiler!) Godot never arrives, but in our current drama raising the debt ceiling at some point will arrive. The President, Treasury Secretary, and many legislators have said “Default is not an option.”
  • Waiting for Armageddon Not going to happen! Even with delayed or a short-term stoppage of government payments, Armageddon will not arrive – extreme unpleasantness yes but Armageddon no. New  Jerseyans, its businesses, and its state and local government rely on billions of dollars each year from the feds so our pain and suffering will be palpable. An individual’s social security check, a non-profit’s funding of a federally paid grant, and the State’s reliance on the Fed’s portion of Medicaid are a few examples of monies that might be delayed.

  • Waiting for Continued DysfunctionCount on it!  Our divided Congress and President continue acting like members of a peace conference in which their differing points of view can result in peace escaping their grasp. Witness an extreme example – the American peace conference of 1861 “in which 132 delegates from 21 states bickered, bargained and tried in vain to bridge the chasm. Six weeks after they adjourned, the Civil War began.” Fortunately as of now our Washington leaders walk up to the precipice but at the last moment back off. In NJ we are already familiar with dysfunction when our governor not only ignores or underfunds essential services but also, facing the legislature’s increases in his budget, he cuts the increases and proceeds to reduce the budget even further. With Pay-for-Play, bosses, secret 501 funding mechanism, and safe legislative/congressional districts, it’s a wonder we get much done. And what does transpire all too frequently seems unrelated to the common good.

  • Waiting for Psychic DamageAll too real! Regardless of the precise outcome of the current fight and beyond the issues of payment delays and higher interest rates, what is happening says something disheartening about us. It diminishes our pride and self-confidence, makes us question the American Experience, and leads us to doubt that the next generation will be better off than us. People and governments abroad will likewise question America’s leadership role in the world. And such psychic damage will filter throughout New Jerseyans caught in a dispiriting spiral where hope shines less brightly.

    The damage is reparable but it will take time. At some point we will get back to issues of job creation, strengthening our economy, meeting basic societal needs, and decreasing income disparity between the very wealthy and the rest of us.  

  • When You Fall off a Horse…

    I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name…

    After two days, in the desert sun, my skin began to turn red.

    After three days, in the desert fun, I was looking at a river bed.

    And the story it told, of a river that flowed,

    made me sad to think it was dead.

                  –  Dewey Bunnell: A Horse With No Name

    So the Democrats failed to override Governor Christie’s veto, and the river that flowed now appears dead. However, all is not lost.  The Star Ledger reports, “Negotiations between Gov. Chris Christie and legislators on restoring up to $139 million for New Jersey’s neediest cities are likely to begin this week.” Also, the Assembly Budget Committee this week will listen as members of the public and representatives of groups detail how the governor’s cuts may affect programs that serve children and Senior citizens.

    The cuts were excessive and vindictive.  As, Mark Magyar points in NJSpotlight, The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) projected that revenues would be $913 million more than originally anticipated, while Christie’s treasurer came in with a projected increase of just $511 million. That $402 million difference would have been more than enough to restore funds for important projects.  Instead Christie made even more cuts, including further cuts in OLS’s budget.

    The cuts were mean-spirited and tear at our social fabric. As Raymond J. Castro explains in NJ Policy Perspective, One in six New Jerseyans will be adversely affected by line-item vetoes of two critical programs – the state Earned Income Tax Credit and NJ Family Care. News from our urban cities reflects unmanageable fires in Camden, crime in Newark and financial crisis throughout.  

    There are many, many more cuts that were excessive, vindictive, mean-spirited and tear at our social fabric. However, does Christie care and will he ameliorate the problem?  Possibly yes. Unemployment last month in NJ ticked up to 9.4%, housing is still in the doldrums, real estate taxes have not declined, and public employees are increasingly mad.  A large swath of New Jerseyans have reason to be disaffected.  A Bloomberg poll released at the end of June said “More people’s opinions of Christie have worsened than improved.”

    Democratic legislators, having fallen off the horse on their first effort, appear to be getting right back on it. With their perseverance and an unhappy electorate, it may yet rain in the desert and that river show signs of life.    

    Watch: Glee deals with Bullying

    I’m posting an entire episode of Glee below. And that’s because Glee, which I’m posting via hulu-com, is dealing with bullying. And in New Jersey, so are we. Bullying young gay men, how that hurts, and some of the reasons why other young men taunt gay kids. And why some people make fun of women and girls, and how that hurts. Honestly, it’s perfectly timed as New Jersey gets ready for Monday’s hearings, as Steven Goldstein writes – in both the Assembly and Senate on the same day – of the Anti-bullying Bill of Rights, which has bi-partisan support in both houses. What’s remarkable about Glee, to me, is its subtext about diversity and acceptance, and not only of gay kids, but all kinds of kids. It’s a refreshing, welcoming and very warming experience. And last night’s episode left me inspired for Monday’s State House lobbying day, called by Garden State Equality, to get kids’ backs when they’re being bullied.

    There are a few commercials. Deal with it.

    Can Christie turn 8 Assembly and 5 Senate Seats?

    promoted by Rosi

    By this time tomorrow the Battle for New Jersey will have begun.

    The Governors national reputation will be greatly helped or severely set back based on his ability to influence and take back the legislature from the Democrats.

    He will need to keep all his seats and turn 5 State Senate seats and 8 Assembly seats.

    The next 365 days will go a long way towards charting the future of this State.

    Who will he target?

    Who can the Democrats target?


    Legislators set the tone for bullying

    Barocas, Legal Director of NJ’s ACLU, suggests our Governor look in the mirror, and our Senate President’s words ring hollow. – promoted by Rosi

    It didn’t take long for my feelings of horror and sadness at the suicide of Tyler Clementi to turn into anger – anger not just at the unfeeling young students who so cruelly invaded Tyler’s privacy, but at our state’s leaders who, through their refusal to provide gay and lesbian citizens with full equality, have stigmatized gay and lesbian relationships and set the tone for tragedies like this to occur.

    A line from my testimony to the New Jersey legislature during the 2009 marriage equality debate echoed hauntingly in my mind:

    “When the state itself segregates people, it grants the rest of society permission to do the same. Through its example, the legislature excuses bigotry and emboldens bullies.”

    keep reading below the fold

    Now Is the Time for Women’s Health Care, Not Partisan Politics

    There’s a rally being planned outside the State House. Noon, Monday September 20th, the day of the veto override. More later. – promoted by Rosi

    Blue Jersey, it’s been a while since my last post here–too long, really–but I’m writing today on an issue I know you’ll agree is of the utmost importance to our state. On September 20th, the state Senate will vote on whether or not to override Governor Christie’s veto of life-saving women’s health care funds.

    You all know the statistics associated with this funding. $7.5 million. 136,000 patients served. $150 million in savings to the state last year. $9 in federal funds brought in for each state dollar spent.

    But this issue is about more than statistics. It’s about people.

    Keep reading below